Can't get your Android tablet online? Now it can instantly piggyback nearby connections

Setting up your Nexus or Pixel as a hotspot just got a lot easier, thanks to Google's Instant Tethering feature.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Instant Tethering lets Android devices such as the Pixel share a mobile connection, automatically connecting devices signed in to the same Google account.

Image: ZDNet

Google has started rolling out Instant Tethering, an Android feature that automatically pairs two devices in the background to share a mobile connection.

Tethering a tablet to a phone is a nifty way to extend a mobile connection, but it can also be fiddly going through settings and entering passwords. Instant Tethering promises to improve the process by automatically connecting devices that are signed in to the same Google account.

It is now possible to instantly share a connection from the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P if they're running Android Nougat version 7.1.1. So, selecting tablets signed in with a user's Google account will automatically connect to one of these devices via Bluetooth.

"When you unlock a tablet such as the Pixel C, it will notice if there is no internet connection available, and will ask your Pixel phone if it has internet and battery life. If it does, we will give you an option to enable a secure hotspot and pair automatically, without even taking your phone out of your pocket," explained Google product manager Omri Amarilio.

"When you are done, if you don't disconnect, we will notice that you stopped using your tablet and we will disconnect the hotspot for you to save your precious battery throughout the day," he added.

Google has also updated its support page with Instant Tethering setup details. For now the feature is narrowly supported. Only Google's own Nexus or Pixel devices can use an instantly tethered connection.

These include the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel C, and Nexus 9 running Android 6.0 and up, according to the support page. Other devices have to be tethered manually.

The feature surfaced in January after Google rolled it out as part of an update to Google Play Services and is rolling it out more widely now.

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