At the end of last month, a new project by Google was unearthed in the form of Phone Hub – a project set to bring even deeper integration between Android phones and Chromebooks. With new features on the horizon like shared notifications, shared phone info, and continued tasks, it feels that this upcoming Phone Hub could offer a far more integrated relationship for users who leverage both sides of Google’s software offerings in Chrome OS and Android.
When these code commits came to light, I honestly thought it would be a few months before we saw anything come of the whole thing. Much to my surprise, a few early-access nuggets have appeared and it looks like development of this new integration is moving along quite rapidly at this point.
First up, we already have a feature flag in the Developer Channel of Chrome OS (chrome://flags/#enable-phone-hub/) that gives us a handful of setting previews in the Settings app. I say setting previews because I can’t see the actual settings in the Developer Channel yet, but when I search my settings, I see additional Phone Hub options that will soon be there. You can see what I mean in the images below:
As you can see, the settings are already baked into the OS on a deep level in Chrome OS 86, so I’d assume this will be the target release for the feature. This would line up well with Google’s hardware event if they do one this year. Chrome OS 86 is due out mid-October and I could see them highlighting this deeper phone integration with Chromebooks as they roll out the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 phones. We don’t expect a new Chromebook, but you never know, right?
Additionally, 9to5 Google came across a video of the settings for Phone Hub in action found buried in one of the ongoing code commits for the new feature. You can see in the video that the setting for phone notifications is nested right alongside the rest of your phone settings, so this will likely not end up being some offshoot departure from what we have in our current Connected Devices settings area. Instead, these new Phone Hub features will likely just get added in as expanded connectivity features.
We fully expect more of this feature to continue showing up in the Canary and Developer Channels of Chrome OS over the next few weeks. With Chrome OS 85 due up in just a couple weeks (September 1st), it won’t be long before the Beta Channel is on Chrome OS 86 and we’ll likely be seeing a far-more developed version of the Phone Hub feature set arriving by then. It will definitely be fun to watch and see how Google continues to refine this integration as the nex few weeks pass. Be sure you are subscribed below so you don’t miss out on this and other features like it rolling out to Chromebooks over the next few updates.