Chromebook users just got this great free upgrade for Android Phones

The Chrome/Android ecosystem is getting better at bringing your devices and data together

HP Chromebook being used by a man on a table
(Image credit: HP)

One of the things I like about the best phones and best laptops is when they become one. For example, I can use my iPhone 13 to scan things into my M1 MacBook Pro, or I can take a photo on my phone and it's right there on my Mac. Well, sometimes anyway. It doesn't always go so smoothly. But when it works it's brilliant, and I'm pleased to see Google moving towards a similar ecosystem for the best Chromebooks and best Android phones

The new ChromeOS version 103 includes some useful new upgrades to the Phone Hub and better integration between Chromebooks and Android phones. There are also some cool new audio features for the best wireless earbuds and improvements to the ChromeOS Screencast app.

Deeper integration between your laptop and your phone

As Engadget reports (opens in new tab), pictures you take on your phone will now show up immediately in the recent photos section of Phone Hub, an app you can also use to control some of your phone's features. It doesn't download automatically – you need to click it for that – so you don't need to worry about accidentally filling up your Chromebook's storage. It's much more elegant than sending the photo to yourself or navigating Google Photos online.

You can also take advantage of your phone's saved Wi-Fi credentials with Nearby Share, which now enables you to send Wi-Fi logins from phone to Chromebook, with the latter saving the details for future use. This is something I use on my phone and laptop all the time; it's one of those things that doesn't seem like a big deal but makes life that little bit less annoying.

The other new feature that jumped out at me isn't here yet, but it's coming later this summer: fast pairing for "hundreds" of Bluetooth wireless headphones. Fast pairing will save the headphones' details to your Google account and share them between your phone and your Chromebook.

What I like best about these changes is that they're in ChromeOS and Android and not limited to specific devices such as the Pixel phone: as nice as it is for Pixel owners to get special treatment from the Google mothership, the more Chromebooks and Androids that play nice together the more happy users there will be.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).