Chromebooks could soon let you stream apps from an Android phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Chromebooks may soon gain the ability to stream apps directly from an Android phone, which could allow the typically entry-level laptops to become even more versatile. 

The news comes from XDA Developers, who performed a complete teardown of the latest Google Play Services beta (v21.21.12) and found data that suggests the feature is in development. While the functionality isn’t live yet, and it’s not technically confirmed either, the inclusion of its footprint in the beta certainly indicates it's in the pipeline.

The beta doesn’t contain any information about how the feature would operate, though it would likely be most useful for streaming gaming apps. Chromebooks rarely come with a dedicated graphics card, so this could be a great way to expand the gaming potential of some of the best Chromebooks. It might also allow users to read and respond to notifications they receive on their phone, which could come in handy when using a Chromebook for work, for instance. 

It's also a mystery as to which devices it would be available on — though Google could make it an exclusive for the upcoming Pixel 6. Instant Tethering, which allows users to share a phone’s mobile connection with a Chromebook, was originally limited solely to Pixel, though it was gradually made available on non-Pixel devices too. 

This new streaming feature was first hinted at way back in February, when a reference to it was spotted in the code of Google’s Chromium open-source browser. That revealed that Google planned to expand the Phone Hub feature on Chrome OS by allowing users to mirror a smartphone screen on a Chromebook. 

If the ability to stream from a smartphone is indeed exclusive to the Pixel 6, at least at first, then we should expect to hear more about it in the early fall, as Google typically shows off its latest flagship smartphone in September. We've already heard a fair bit about the device, with recent leaks suggesting it will have a killer camera upgrade and a powerful graphics boost — plus a huge redesign.

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.