In late July, news of SMS notifications for Chromebooks spread like wildfire as developers added a new “SMS Connect” setting to the Developer channel of Chrome OS.
At that time, we found the new setting to be completely non-functional. I’m a bit sad to report that, as of today, that has not changed. What has changed are new details of the feature discovered in the Chromium repository.
Just to bring you up to speed, the SMS Connect setting is hidden until you enable the Chrome OS flag:
Enable multidevice features Chrome OS
Enables UI for controlling multidevice features. #multidevice
Once enabled, you will see “SMS Connect” in the settings menu. What’s more intriguing than this yet-to-be feature is the menu item it is housed under.
I hadn’t put much thought into what “connected devices” could mean as there wasn’t much evidence of it or the SMS feature in the repository. I simply dismissed it and decided to wait for SMS Connect to go live.
That all changed last night when I stumbled upon this:
DeviceSync API: This API syncs metadata about other devices tied to a given Google account.
This, along with more than a dozen commits, is tied directly to the “multidevice” flag that brought SMS Connect to Chrome OS. Clearly, this is much bigger than SMS notifications but since we’re on that subject, here’s a very exciting little detail about that very feature.
“Description of for the ‘SMS Connect’ setting. This feature lets the user read and reply to text messages from their Chromebook. New text messages will appear as notifications.”>Read and reply to text messages on your Chromebook
That’s right folks. This is more than just notifications on your Chrome device. At some point, we will be able to natively read and respond to SMS messages from a Chromebook.
From the DeviceSync API above we see that devices will be synced via the Google account being used on the Chromebook. What devices you will be able to connect still remains to be seen but obviously, your phone and its messaging service will be the first step.
Google has already presented the ability to sync notifications from Google Home to connected devices based on location as well as the specific users’ needs and habits. Bringing these functions to Chrome OS wouldn’t be much of a leap especially when the Assistant makes her debut on Chromebooks.
The ability to sync notifications from multiple platforms and/or devices may not be a groundbreaking development but bringing these functions to Chrome OS is a huge step in the evolution of the ever-growing capabilities of Chromebooks.
Many users already have accounts synced across multiple devices and platforms using a singular Google account. Adding notifications as well as interactive capabilities is just a natural next-step.