Chromebooks could soon automatically go online using any Android phone

Chromebook Pixel

For those who need to go online on their Chromebook via a mobile phone, there’s some good news in that Google is expanding the Chromebook’s Instant Tethering feature beyond just its own smartphones.

Instant Tethering means supported Chromebooks can automatically and seamlessly switch to use your phone’s data connection when you’re out and about, and need to get online, but there’s no Wi-Fi in the vicinity. It’s currently only supported with Google’s own Nexus and Pixel handsets.

However, support on the phone front is expanding, according to a report from Android Police, with several readers using OnePlus and Samsung Android devices getting in touch to say that Instant Tethering now works for them – albeit in testing on the Beta or Dev versions of Chrome OS.

The tech site observes that they couldn’t get it working on the Dev build of Chrome OS, so this could just be rolling out to a limited number of select users or those with particular device/hardware configurations at the moment.

But the point is, it’s a pretty good sign that expanded support is coming. Although there are no guarantees at this stage, as ever with features in testing; they can get dropped.

Current support

Currently, Instant Tethering is only supported by Google’s smartphones, as we mentioned, meaning specifically the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2/2 XL, Pixel 3/3 XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P or Nexus 6.

The other requirements include running Android 7.1 or better, and obviously you need tethering enabled on your mobile data plan (and Bluetooth turned on). Both the Chromebook and phone must be signed in to the same Google account, too.

Google first introduced Instant Tethering to Chromebooks back in 2017, with the feature initially spotted in June of that year, and it has subsequently rolled out to more and more notebooks as time has progressed.

Hopefully, then, it won’t be long before we see an equivalent expansion on the phone front for the release version of Chrome OS.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).