OPINION: ChromeOS 103 is now available, making Chromebooks more integrated than ever before with Android phones. But a lot of the features may already be familiar to any of the iPhone owners out there.
As a longtime iPhone user, I can admit that Apple has its flaws; From expensive lightning switches to the strange naming options of the M1 series processors, there are some annoying issues that most Apple users will admit.
However, the somewhat indisputable claim about the company is that it knows how to integrate its products, with nearly all devices — including the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac ranges — that are designed to work in tandem.
The same can’t always be said, however, for the phones on the other side of the pond. While Android phones can be great devices — check out our best Android phones list to see which ones we like — they usually aren’t as smooth when it comes to integration.
Google appears to be aware of this issue, as ChromeOS 103 appears to take a few pages from Apple’s manual, with new features allowing Android phones to work better with Chromebooks.
One such feature is support for Wi-Fi sharing, whereby Android will now be able to share passwords with Chromebooks via close sharing from the phone’s Wi-Fi settings. Apple introduced this feature in iOS 11 in 2017, and I’ve never met an Apple user who doesn’t fiddle with how easy it is to share a password at the touch of a button.
Nearby sharing is no different than Apple’s AirDrop, allowing users to share photos and files over Wi-Fi, instead of having to connect them through physical cables or through another service, such as email.
Another new feature that will be rolling out this summer is Fast Pair, which will allow users to pair the Bluetooth earbuds to a Chromebook with a simple click of a button. This may be familiar to any AirPod owner, as users only need to open their AirPods near their iPhone to set up a connection, avoiding the need to turn on your iPhone’s settings in search of a new Bluetooth device.
That’s not to say these new features are unwelcome, and Apple certainly doesn’t have the right to fast Bluetooth connections, but Google clearly has a bit of inspiration from the iPhone’s vast feature library.
The lack of integration between Android phones and non-Apple computers is also due to the fact that Android spans more than just one company, with the likes of Google, Samsung, and Oppo all falling into the Android category. The diversity of companies must make it difficult to create the same seamless process that Apple has been able to achieve, and it’s good to see Google trying to make it easier for consumers to use a Samsung phone with their Chromebook as if it were one device, not two.
More features will be rolling out over the next few months, and I hope it will create an improved experience for more users. However, it looks like Google and other Android companies may follow in Apple’s footsteps for a long time if they ever want to achieve the same level of seamless integration that keeps so many people trapped in the Apple bubble.
Ctrl + Alt + Delete is our weekly computing-focused opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals, and more. You can find it in Trusted Comments every Saturday afternoon.