Google has long had two major platforms (three if you count The Web, more if you also count Fuchsia and other custom operating systems), but Android and Chrome OS haven’t exactly crossed paths until recently. Fortunately, Google has been working on bridging the two, more than just running Android apps on Chromebooks. An upcoming feature might be Google’s biggest push in that direction, figuratively and literally, with a “Push” function that will let Android phones, particularly Google’s Pixel phones, stream their screens to Chromebooks.
Google has been trying to connect Android and Chrome OS over the past years, like offering an Instant Tethering connection or mirroring Android notifications on Chromebooks. For the most part, they still exist as separate entities, bridged only at specific points of connectivity. A new feature that might be exclusive to Pixel phones will put the two devices closer, at least on the same screen.
This “Push” button will appear on Android 12’s Recents screen as a way to “send” an app to a nearby Chromebook. From the wording of the feature, it seems that both devices will at least need to be on the same local network, which is pretty much the requirement for almost all app mirroring services for desktops and laptops.
This “Push” feature was spotted earlier this year under the codenamed “Eche” for Chromebooks. It will reportedly use WebRTC, the same technology employed for video chats like Google Duo, which probably explains some of the optimizations Google has been making over the past months. Unlike video chats, though, Push will also be sending back and forth additional data, like clicks that will translate to taps on the phone.
This Android Push sounds similar to what Samsung and Microsoft already have implemented via the Windows My Phone system. It’s definitely more than what Apple has implemented in the “Handoff” feature between iOS and macOS, which only sent the content and state of apps between the two platforms. Screen mirroring, however, might be more efficient, provided the integration with Chrome OS is so seamless that it feels like you were running the Android app natively on the Chromebook.