The best Chromebooks are getting this brilliant free upgrade

If you've got a Chromebook with cellular connectivity it's about to get a whole lot more useful

Best Chromebooks 2021
(Image credit: Acer)

If you have one of the best Chromebooks with mobile data, it's about to become an even better mobile device: a forthcoming Chrome OS update will enable you to use your Chromebook as a Wi-Fi hotspot for your other, non-cellular devices. It's essentially the same thing you can do with the best Android phones, but as a Chromebook has a much bigger battery it's better suited for the role of device hotspot hub.

The feature was spotted by 9to5Google, which found the work-in-progress feature in a new flag that's coming to chrome://flags: the new Hotspot flag "enables the Chromebook to share its cellular internet connection to other devices through Wi-Fi".

How Chromebooks' mobile hotspot feature will work

Given that there's already a personal hotspot feature in Android, you don't need to have incredible psychic powers to predict how it'll work in Chrome OS: we'd expect it to be in the Settings app with a toggle to turn it on and off and, presumably, the ability to give your hotspot a name. It's something the Chromebook hardware is perfectly capable of delivering; all Google needs to do is switch it on.

That's easy for me to say, though: I'm not the one actually coding this stuff. And given the fairly sketchy evidence of the new feature so far, it's clearly not going to arrive in the coming weeks: when it comes, it won't be until much later this year. 

I know this is a fairly niche feature, because chances are that if you have a Chromebook you've also got an Android phone with hotspot capability. But if you're already using mobile data on your laptop it'll enable you to deliver the same hotspot features without having to worry about the drain on your phone's battery: as someone whose phone is often used as a hotspot for the kids' tablets, I'm painfully aware of the effect it has on even the best phones' batteries. Not everybody will need this new feature, but the ones that do will be very glad when it arrives.

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)).