Google’s new Chromebook features make it easier to connect to Android phones

Google has been working on new Android and Chromebook features that better bridge the gap between phones and laptops over the past year. Today, ChromeOS version 103 arrives with some features to improve how Chromebooks connect to Android phones.

The Phone Hub feature of ChromeOS, announced last year, is getting a new recent photos addition. With the 103 ChromeOS update, you’ll be able to quickly access the latest photos you’ve taken on your phone inside the Phone Hub. It’s an easy way to avoid emailing yourself a photo or having to dig into Google Photos to find your recent photos. It even works if you’re offline.

Recent photos in the Phone Hub on ChromeOS.
Image: Google

Google is also improving its Nearby Share feature to connect a Chromebook to any saved Wi-Fi network on an Android phone. This will make it easier if a friend or family member has a Chromebook and needs to connect to your Wi-Fi, and it matches the neat integration Apple has between iOS devices and Mac to easily share Wi-Fi passwords.

In fact, Google’s new ChromeOS additions this week are part of a broader effort to match Apple’s ecosystem integrations and Microsoft’s Phone Link work. Google calls its initiative “Better Together,” and throughout 2022, it will be rolling out software features that improve how Android, Chromebook, and Bluetooth-connected devices all work together.

Google is working on a system so that any messaging app on your phone can be mirrored on a Chromebook, allowing direct access to third-party messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram on a Chromebook.

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Fast Pair is coming this summer to Chromebooks.
Image: Google

Google’s “Fast Pair” framework will also make pairing Bluetooth headphones easier this summer. Chromebooks will automatically detect when a new pair of Bluetooth headphones are nearby, and a pop-up notification will make it easy to pair. It’s similar to the effortless pairing available in Windows or with AirPods on a Mac.

Google says that more “Better Together” features will be available later this year and that it will “share more exciting Chromebook announcements this summer.”

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