Google adds Chrome OS support to read, write files on Android phones

Getting at photos and other files on a USB-connected Android phone is about to get easier if you have a Chromebook, thanks to a new experimental feature in Chrome OS.

Google is continuing to get its Chrome OS platform to work well with its Android-powered mobile devices. Using the latest version Google's Developer channel Chrome OS, you can manipulate files on a USB-connected Android phone or tablet.

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Google evangelist, François Beaufort, shared the news Thursday on this function, noting that it is experimental. It's common for Google to add and test Chrome OS features in the Developer channel of the operating system. That doesn't mean every new feature will become generally available to all Chrome OS users, however. So it's possible Google doesn't move it forward to the Beta and Stable channels.

For now though, it is available. You'll need to be on the Developer channel of Chrome OS to try it, but it's easy to switch channels. In the Chrome OS Settings, look for the About Chrome OS link and click it. This will show you the Chrome OS version you're running as well as a Show More info link. Clicking it will let you choose which channel of the software you'd like installed.

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Once that process is complete, you can connect an Android device to your Chromebook with a USB cable. Open the Files app and you'll see the phone or tablet mounted; you can then copy files between Android and Chrome OS, rename, cut, copy or paste files on the mobile device using the Chrome OS Files app. That's handy for getting photos or other files from a connected Android phone.

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Note that other desktop operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X already support this feature, although Mac users need to install this utility to give their computer access to files on an Android device. That's because Google uses MTP, or Media Transfer Protocol, to get computers working with the Android files system.

While Google could eventually pull the plug on this experimental feature, I doubt it will.

The company has made a concerted effort to get Chrome OS and Android working together of late. Last year, it announced Android app support on Chrome OS computers and just recently opened up the process for app developers to port their Android software to Chromebooks through the Chrome Web Store.

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