Chrome OS just launched Phone Hub, an awesome feature that links your Android phone to a Chromebook
What you need to know
- Chrome OS is now 10 years old and sporting a significant section of the desktop ecosystem.
- 1 in 10 new computers bought today run Chrome OS, and the number doubles in the United States to 1 in 5.
- Chrome OS 89 is also packing plenty of new goodies from the long-awaited Phone Hub to Nearby Share support and native screen recording.
Whether you've been rocking a Chromebook from the CR-48 days or just picked up a great Chromebook last week, there's never been a better time to be a Chrome OS user, and the Chromebook club seems to be growing every day as Google announced on Chrome OS's 10th birthday that Chromebook now make up 10% of new desktop-class computer purchases globally — and 20% in the United States. Between Chromebooks now having 8-9 years of updates from launch to support for Linux, Android, and even Windows support via Parallels, it's little surprise that Enterprise Chromebooks saw 60% growth year-over-year during last year's pandemic when businesses were scrambling to go remote, and whether you're using Chromebooks for work, play, or both, there's some new features coming with Chrome OS 89 that everyone will be able to appreciate:
The long-awaited feature is finally heading out of beta with Chrome OS 89, allowing you to turn on Instant Tethering, Do Not Disturb, and access both recent Chrome Tabs and notifications from your phone while also being able to keep your Chromebook unlocked as long as the phone is unlocked and connected via Bluetooth. I've been using Phone Hub on my ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook for the last few weeks and while notification support isn't quite as good as I'd like it to be, it'll be nice to have this available for all phones and all Chromebooks.
Nearby Share was added to Android last year, but now you can use it to send files from your phone to your Chromebook, too, eliminating the need to email files to yourself or sync them through Google Drive. This is a small feature, but it's one I'm going to be using a lot when I'm editing photos while out in the world or sending memes across the apartment.
Another Android feature making the jump to Chrome OS with version 89 is Wi-Fi Sync, meaning you'll be able to put your password in once on your Chromebook's nice big keyboard, and then that password can sync to your phone so you don't have to put it in again. While we're not really traveling as much right now as we usually would, frequent travelers and couch-surfers will very much appreciate not having to put in every new password over and over upon reaching a new destination.
Native screen capture
This is another Chrome OS feature that's been a long time coming, and I can't wait for it to arrive. This will add a Screen Capture shortcut to Quick Settings that you can tap to either take a precisely cropped screenshot or to start up a new screen recording so that you can show the developer exactly how broken their app or website is. You'll be able to save these recordings to your internal storage, to the cloud, or you can just share them immediately through the newly expanded Clipboard or the Tote section.
Clipboard and "Tote" Quick Access Section
The clipboard can now hold 5 recent copies instead of just one — can I get a HALLELUJAH? No? — and you'll be able to easily swap which one you want by using Launcher + V. If you have Launcher mapped to Caps Lock like I do, this might finally be worth putting the Launcher key back to default for.
Another way you'll be able to easily share files into the emails or messages is the Tote section next to Phone Hub and the Quick Settings. Remember the Recents section of Windows File Explorer? This is basically the same thing, but smaller and easier to pull up. Recently saved items will cycle through Tote, and you can also pin documents and files to Tote so that they're always handy, should you be sharing a Best Practices guide about five times a day.
Chrome OS 89 will be rolling out to Chromebooks very soon, and I cannot wait to test out the glorious power of Phone Hub and native screen recording on my many Chromebooks. The next several weeks are also going to be important as more and more of the Chromebooks that were announced at the beginning of the year at CES 2021 and BETT keep hitting store shelves.
Which Chromebook has been your favorite over the last decade, and what features are you still waiting for Google to add to Chrome OS? Let us know in the comments, and then let's go find some birthday cupcakes we can frost into a Chrome logo!
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Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.