New Chrome OS 103 update will satisfy Chromebook-Android users' Apple envy

The latest Chrome OS update will allow Android users to sync recent photos and Wi-Fi passwords, and fast-pair Bluetooth devices with their Chromebooks. It's the next step towards a unified ecosystem of Google hardware and software.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Image: Google

Unlike Apple's ever-growing ecosystem of iPhones, MacBooks, and other products, Google's portfolio of Android devices and Chromebooks has never been as coherent as to earn a "walled garden" title of its own. Changes are coming. 

In a recent "What's new in Chrome OS" press release, Google shared a slew of upcoming features that include improvements to photo syncing, Wi-Fi sharing, and fast-pairing via Android. Here's a summary of the new software additions that will make Chromebook and Android users a little less envious of Apple's product line.

Easy access to recent photos

Image: Google

Remember when old sci-fi movies predicted that we'd have flying cars in 2020? Instead, we live in an age where the most convenient way to send a picture from phone to computer is by emailing ourselves. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it's clearly an efficiency problem and one that Google is looking to solve with Chrome OS 103. 

Currently, Phone Hub only serves as a control center for Android users to respond to text messages, enable a hotspot, and tether different settings via the Chromebook. In the latest update, Phone Hub will gain access to recently-captured images as well -- even if the Chromebook is offline. 

Users will be able to download a recent photo and distribute it as a document or email, much like Apple's iCloud sync. 

More: Best Chromebooks to buy

Connect to Wi-Fi via Nearby Share

Nearby Share is commonly used to distribute files, photos, and videos between phones or Chromebooks. Now, you'll be able to use the transferring feature to securely connect your Chromebook to the Wi-Fi network that's saved on your Android, saving the hassle of retyping Wi-Fi passwords or scanning QR codes. 

To use this feature, go to the connection settings on your Android phone, select Wi-Fi networkShare, Nearby, and then select your Chromebook from the list of nearby devices.

Fast Pair headphones with a tap

Image: Google

Lastly, Google is making it easier to pair Bluetooth-enabled headphones with a Chromebook. Fast Pair is coming this Summer and will enable Chromebooks to automatically detect nearby Bluetooth headphones the moment they're turned on. When detected, a pop-up notification will prompt users to connect or learn more about the audio device. By adding Fast Pair compatibility, gone are the days of tensely staring at the blue LED of your headphones to make sure they're in pairing mode. 

More features to come

Earlier this year, Google announced at CES that a bevy of Chrome OS features was in the pipeline, all meant to further unify the company's suite of products. That was followed by more feature teases during Google I/O in May. Later this year, the company says, "we'll introduce even more helpful features that will make all of your devices work better together." In the meantime, Chromebook and Android users will have the aforementioned features to indulge in.

Editorial standards