When I found the “Better Together” setup process in the Android P developer preview earlier this month, it appeared to just add support for SMS integration on Chromebooks. Now it appears to be something a little different based on code reviews and this tweet from an XDA Developer editor:
Chrome OS/Android integration called "Better Together" is launching pretty soon I believe. The strings are being finalized, and in the comments, it's said they need to land by next week.https://t.co/lQ5uY5CMe9
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) June 26, 2018
Yes, SMS text support from an Android phone is still there, although I wonder how or if that’s different from the recently released Android Messages support Google added.
Since the Android setup screen mentions phone calls, this may allow for voice calls directly from a Chromebook.
Also included is Instant Tethering — currently a connectivity feature for Pixel phones — and an Easy Unlock feature that sounds similar to the Smart Lock function that’s been around for a while with Android 5.0 or better devices.
All in all, Better Together seems more like a branded bundle and simple setup of currently existing features. That’s not a bad thing: I’m betting many Chromebook users don’t realize they can unlock their device via a trusted Bluetooth phone or smart watch, for example. And broadening Instant Tethering support beyond just Pixel phones will make it easier for any Chromebook user with a supported Android device to use their phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Based on the code changes, Better Together could be available on the Chrome OS Dev Channel within the next week or so. That’s the channel I run on my Pixelbook since Project Crostini — the ability to run Linux apps — isn’t yet available on the Beta or Stable channels. So once Better Together lands, I’ll run through the setup and report back on features and functions.
Updated at 2:36pm ET on June 27: Removed all references of voice calls based on the original source noting that the phone call mention is likely referencing the appropriate Android permissions for SMS. After additional digging in the Chromium code, I concur based on this description of Better Together: “Connect your phone so you can text from your computer, share your phone’s internet connection, and unlock your Chromebook screen.”