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When it comes to the technology in our lives, we've spread ourselves out quite thin — a lot of us have more than one TV, gaming console, phone, or even computer in our lives. There have been some efforts to incorporate continuity between some experiences, though. One such effort for those with a great Chromebook and an Android phone is Phone Hub.

Phone Hub was first introduced in 2021 as an expansion of ChromeOS's limited, but existing sync features for Android users. In short, you'll be able to use your Chromebook to interact with the notifications, messages, and content you've been looking at with your phone. You'll also be able to set up a mobile hotspot connection quickly and easily and find your phone if you've lost track of it. All of this is done wirelessly through Bluetooth.

How to set up Phone Hub

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on for both your Chromebook and the Android phone you want to connect to it.
    • Your devices must be on ChromeOS v89 and Android 5.1 or later
  2. On your Chromebook, navigate to Settings > Connected devices > Connect your Android phone.
    The setup window for Phone Hub on ChromeOS, which asks which Android phone the user would like to connect.
  3. In the setup wizard, select the Android device tied to your Google account you'd like to register with Phone Hub.
  4. Read up on the required permissions and select Accept & continue.

From there, your Chromebook and phone should connect and you'll be free to use Phone Hub's features. If you use multiple Chromebooks, your phone will also automatically connect to them as well. You should also see a persistent notification on your phone saying that it is connected to and syncing notifications with your Chromebook.

How to use Phone Hub

The Phone Hub panel on ChromeOS, which allows the user to interface with the apps and files on their phone wirelessly.

To open Phone Hub, press the phone icon on your Chromebook's shelf.

At the top of the hub, you'll see your device's name, its mobile connectivity status, and battery level. You can access Phone Hub's settings with the cog button in the top-right corner. The top row of buttons allows you to interact with your phone directly:

  • Enable hotspot turns on your phone's mobile hotspot and instantly connects your Chromebook to it for internet access
  • Silence phone puts your phone on silent (of course)
  • Locate phone triggers your phone's ringtone to play at full volume if you need help spotting it — it might have fallen out of your pocket!

The next row shows two recent Chrome tabs you've browsed on your phone. You can select either or both pages to open on your Chromebook.

The third row shows four of the most recent pictures you've interacted with on your phone — these can be photos you've taken with your camera or images you've downloaded online. Selecting any of these transfers that file to your Chromebook's Downloads folder.

App streaming

An example of app streaming through Phone Hub on ChromeOS. This particular example is of Google Messages.

Finally, the bottom row is for app streaming. Your most recently used ones populate the bar, but you can access a list of all apps with the right-most icon. Selecting any of them opens up an app stream session where you can interact with the app from your Chromebook while it is operating on your phone in a virtual session — you won't see it on your phone if you have it out and open — connected through Wi-Fi. Most apps will be available with the key exceptions being the camera, phone, and settings apps.

This feature, which is continuously evolving, is currently only supported by Google Pixel phones from the Pixel 4a onwards as well as the Xiaomi 12T, 12T Pro, 13, and 13 Pro. The phones must be on Android 13 or later.

Google's own instructions for setting up app streaming features inaccurate, outdated language describing the toggles you'll need to flip on. Here's what we needed to do to get up and running:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Connected devices > Name of your phone.
  2. .Under the Phone Hub sub-settings, turn on the permission toggles for Recent Chrome tabs, Recent photos, Notifications, and Apps.
  3. You also need to navigate to Settings > Security and Privacy > Lock screen and sign in. Enter your Google account password to access these settings.
  4. Enable the Lock when sleeping or lid is closed toggle if it is not already

After that, you'll be able to select most any app to use on your Chromebook — with full touch and keyboard functionality — through Phone Hub.

As you use your Chromebook and select a notification that's been labeled as coming from your phone, ChromeOS will immediately open up an app streaming session for you to address it.

Phone Hub: A work in progress

Phone Hub, like almost any other feature, is a work in progress, and it can be a bit buggy at times. Overall, though, it's got great benefits for those who've planted themselves in Google's OS garden.