After 7 years, a bug fix will let Chromebooks use a USB-connected iPhone for mobile broadband

It’s not often I see a Chromium bug that’s seven years old, but today I revisited one because of some major progress made. And when I say seven years, I mean to the day: This feature request to use an iPhone’s mobile broadband connection over USB on a Chromebook Pixel was submitted on February 25, 2013!

I noted back in June of last year that you couldn’t USB tether an iPhone to a Chromebook for connectivity but that the Chromium team was looking into it.

I was never too concerned about not having this feature because the few times I’ve needed a Wi-Fi hotspot for my Chromebooks, I’ve just shared the iPhone’s connection over Wi-Fi.

While the Personal Hotspot feature of iOS does work, there’s a case to be made for sharing that connection over USB, and it’s right in the feature request:

Phone tethering through USB consumes less battery than wireless or Bluetooth tethering and is much safer. Based on user reports, it is also more reliable than Wifi tethering.

Yup, I’d agree. And thankfully, after many years, code to address this was updated to support this feature earlier this month. There’s no release date assigned to this code change as of yet, so I’m not sure when it will appear.

Why was there little to no movement on this feature since last July? It wasn’t a simple code fix; instead, all of the supported Linux kernels for Chrome OS needed updates before the feature could be rolled out.

I’m generally a very happy user of both iPhone and Chromebook on a daily basis, even without USB tethering support. But that’s just me: Will you be using a USB connected iPhone with your Chromebook?

5 thoughts on “After 7 years, a bug fix will let Chromebooks use a USB-connected iPhone for mobile broadband

  • February 25, 2020 at 10:32 am

    There never seemed to be activity on bugs I reported using the CB reporting feature. I started using the link to the forum and all-of-a-sudden, lots of activity. I can see my bugs in the bug tracker.

  • February 25, 2020 at 10:54 am

    What version of Chrome OS received this fix? Incidentally, my Chromebook hasn’t yet received Chome OS 80 for the stable channel. Is that normal, or is it just me?

    • February 26, 2020 at 11:54 am

      There’s no version number for the merge that I can see, so I’m not sure. As far as Chrome OS 80 Stable Channel, that hasn’t been released for Chrome OS yet. Google first rolls out the Chrome version and Chrome OS typically follows a week or two later, so it should be soon. Most current Stable Version of Chrome OS is currently 79.0.3945.123.

  • March 11, 2020 at 3:25 am

    I really hope this fix is in soon.

    I use the pixelbook and my iphone when Im using the train, and the reliability is horrible – constant disconnects afterwhich I need to restart the hotspot on the iphone and try to connect my pixelbook again and again.
    Its unusable really.
    Before, when I used an Android phone (galaxy S8) tethering was flawless.
    Btw this seems to be happening to a lot of people – e.g.

    Also – since bluetooth tethering also doesnt work between pixelbook (any chromebook?) and the iphone, USB is my only hope…

  • June 2, 2020 at 1:11 am

    IS there any way to be notified of when this update will actually take place?


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