Good for enterprises: Chromebooks to get Android’s Always-on VPN feature

Chromebook owners that are fans of the Always-on VPN feature in Android have something to look forward to: A future version of Chrome OS will be able to use that function, automatically helping to secure a Chromebook accessing public Wi-Fi hotspots; essentially a must for enterprise workers.

What’s interesting about this is that the Chromium team will be implementing Always-on VPN through Android running on a Chromebook. And the encrypted connection will be available to the Chromebook immediately after a reboot, before the Android app container, known as ARC++, even launches. Here’s a description of the code change:

To expand the Always-on VPN feature on Android to apply to chrome, we need to know what VPN package to apply it to. Then we store that information in a pref in chrome, so that it is available after restart, even before ARC++ has started.

It’s a clever tweak as I’ve heard many complaints on setting up and using VPNs on Chrome OS. The process may actually be easier within in Android; I don’t know because I use a VPN extension in Chrome when I need to.

Android VPN settings
Android VPN option in Network & Internet settings

Anyone can benefit from using a VPN, which encrypts your connection so that no data can be accessed while it’s in flight. Additionally, websites won’t have your actual IP address or location. From a consumer standpoint, VPN connections typically won’t work with online streaming subscriptions such as YouTube TV because those services are designed to work in specific locations; with a VPN connection, for example, my YouTube TV doesn’t work.

The bigger bang for buck though with an Always-on VPN is likely for Chromebook users in enterprises where VPN connections are often required for remote access in order to protect sensitive business or employee data and security credentials.

From the code additions, it appears that device administrators will have a policy to enable and force the Always-on VPN function, which makes sense from a security standpoint.

And since the feature will work upon a restart immediately, IT should be happy as will Chromebook users while working remotely; they won’t have to worry about enabling their VPN after each reboot.

6 thoughts on “Good for enterprises: Chromebooks to get Android’s Always-on VPN feature

  • July 31, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Any idea when this will happen? Within a year, or less, even before the holidays?

    • July 31, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Can’t say for sure but I’d guess it comes to stable in the next release or two (and Stable is updated roughly every 6 weeks). It really depends on how the feature performs in the Dev and Beta channels. No / few bugs = quicker to Stable.

      • August 1, 2018 at 1:33 am

        Thanks. I’m still waiting for a nice 14″ chromebook w/8g ram that can do android.

  • July 31, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    I doubt whether WiFi is a dependency of OpenVPN/L2TP. I expect this would be relevant for all forms of data link: LAN/WAN, WiFi and Mobile. VPNs (when they are based on robust low level protocols with secure communications as a major goal) help to make connected devices manageable and secure – essential features for any enterprise or governmental entity.

  • August 2, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Many users prefer to use VPN extensions on Chrome, that is a simple way of connecting to a VPN network and use the proxy IP address. The most popular one is the HotSpot shield. Good information provided, hope this is gonna come into use soon.

  • May 15, 2019 at 4:55 am

    “a VPN extension in Chrome ”
    Do you use the HotSpot shield extension, or another?
    I am not an enterprise user, just occasional use of public WiFi.


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