What you need to know
- Google is apparently preparing to add support for Wi-Fi hotspot to Chromebooks.
- The feature will allow users to connect multiple devices to any Chrome OS machine with mobile data connectivity.
- It was discovered in Chrome OS code and will most likely be available for testing as a flag.
While several Chromebooks already ship with native SIM capability, none supports Wi-Fi hotspot to share internet connectivity with other devices. It's perhaps one of the biggest omissions in Chrome OS machines, and Google is now working to correct it.
An upcoming flag has been spotted on Chromium's Gerrit, suggesting that Google is developing a new capability that will allow you to turn on hotspot on any Chromebook with mobile data connectivity (via 9to5Google). This means some Chromebooks sold by network carriers or those with built-in SIM support, such as the Acer Chromebook Spin 513, might soon let you connect multiple devices to your Chrome OS machine.
Once it starts rolling out, the feature will initially be available as a feature flag that can be enabled via chrome://flags. The feature's description reads: "Enables the Chromebook to share its cellular internet connection to other devices through WiFi."
Apart from its description, specific details of the feature remain unclear. But we'd imagine that Chrome OS' internet-sharing capability will work the same way as Android's method. This means you'll presumably be able to set a network name and a custom password.
It's quite odd, however, that this hotspot capability hasn't been available on any of the best Chromebooks from the get-go, seeing as Android phones and even PCs have had it since time immemorial. But it's encouraging to see Google attempting to fix this shortcoming sooner rather than later.
The feature will make always-connected Chromebooks a lot more useful, especially if you're frequently spending time away from a Wi-Fi network. It'll also help to conserve your phone's battery, which can quickly drain when the mobile hotspot is turned on. Given the impressive battery life of many Chrome OS devices, the feature makes sense.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.