Phone Hub is one step closer to your Chromebook, but it's got miles to go

Acer Chromebook Spin 713
Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Phone Hub has been slowly going live for some lucky users on Chrome OS Canary or Developer builds.
  • It's a server-side A/B test, so very few users have been able to use it so far.
  • The working hub still has a few bugs, but we now have a good idea how Phone Hub looks and acts.

We're always excited to hear about new features for our favorite Chromebooks, and one that's been stuck in development for months and months is Phone Hub. This seeks to greatly expand the pairing and connection between your Android phone and Chromebook, just like iPhone/Mac integration by allowing you to see and respond to phone notifications, pick up recent Chrome tabs on the larger laptop screen, and ring or silence your phone without having to go dig it out of your purse across the room.

This week, Android Police picked up on reddit posts that Phone Hub was finally working in some Developer and Canary builds of Chrome OS 89 and 90. The luck users had the following stars align for them:

  • A Chromebook running a Developer or Canary build (a few Chromebooks on Chrome OS 89 Beta have also seen Phone Hub appear, but not functional)
  • The #enable-phone-hub flag enabled in chrome://flags/
  • A phone enrolled in the Google Play Services beta
  • They were among the devices chosen for the active portion of Google's A/B server-side test

Phone Hub settings for Chrome OS Canary

Source: Android Police (Image credit: Source: Android Police)

If all the stars aligned (you lucky bastard), you were able to set up Phone Hub to expand the capabilities and interoperability between your Android phone and your Chromebook. You can see notifications from your phone and respond to some of them, you can see your recent Chrome tabs from your phone and open them in a fresh tab in Google Chrome, and you can change the ringer setting for your phone between Sound, Vibrate, and Silent.

From these tests, we can see that there's still work to be done: there's some spacing and other small UX issues in the Hub, and replying to notifications is bugged for some issues but fine for others. I'm also hopeful that we can see a few more features introduced to Phone Hub before it makes its way to a wider Beta test and then on to Stable release. We're still at least three months minimum from Phone Hub's introduction — and that would make for a nice little Google I/O announcement in May, wouldn't it? — and there's still a good amount of fine-tuning and troubleshooting that needs to occur.

That said, it's important to celebrate successes when they come, and Phone Hub working in the wild — regardless of how limited it is right now — is worth a toast. Cheers!

Ara Wagoner

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.