Google’s Cross-Device Services app is now live in the Google Play Store, more than a year after the company first unveiled it was working on a service that would let you use a Chromebook to interact with some apps on your Android phone.
It’s not actually active yet, but the folks at 9to5Google report that the updated version of the app is now rolling out to Google Pixel phones. And the Play Store page gives us a better idea of how it will work.
Originally described as a service that would let you use your Chromebook to respond to messages in chat apps installed on an Android phone, it looks like Cross-Device Services might actually let you use a Chromebook to launch any app or game installed on your phone.
Basically the ChromeOS Phone Hub feature will detect if you’ve got an Android phone nearby and in addition to letting you do things like open websites that you’ve recently visited on your phone or view photos, you’ll be able to launch Android apps in a window on your Chromebook.
At the bottom of the Phone Hub window there’s a section for “Recent apps” that shows recently used apps from your phone, as well as an “All apps” icon that lets you bring up a list of all the Android apps installed on your mobile device.
From there you can select an app that you want to use and not only will your phone launch that app, but it’ll also stream it to your Chromebook where it will show up in a window that you can interact with.
This lets you view and add calendar appointments, respond to messages, update a shopping list, view the status of a rideshare, or perform other activities. You can even play some games this way, although I expect this will work best with games that don’t require low-latency input and/or high frame rates.
Of course, you can already install many Android apps directly on a Chromebook, but Cross-Device Services allows you to interact with apps that are running on your phone without the need to install them on your laptop. That way there’s no need to install the same app on multiple devices or keep your data synchronized between those devices.
While Cross-Device services is pre-installed on Pixel phones, 9to5Google says it can also be installed on phones and tablets from other device makers. But it still doesn’t actually do anything yet: it’s unclear when the feature will actually go live on Chromebooks.