Thursday, June 13, 2024

This new Android feature isn’t coming to your Samsung phone after all

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Cross device services on Android phone.A screenshot of the Instant Hotspot feature Google

Google has announced seven new features rolling out to Android phones soon, including message editing in Google messages, improved cross-device services, and perhaps most notably Instant Hotspot. This feature streamlines hotspot creation and tethering between your Android phone and tablet or Chromebook, letting you create hotspots without having to deal with passwords and QR codes.

Unfortunately, according to Google, Samsung users won’t be able to take advantage of this. The news is buried in the fine print of the Android Feature Drop page, but it says, “Instant hotspot is not available on Samsung devices.” It’s not clear why this isn’t available to Samsung users. Typically, any Android Drop Feature should work on all Google-certified Android phones with Google Play Services.

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This is a real shame because Instant Hotspot is a particularly useful feature for travelers, digital nomads, and anyone who ever uses their phone as a hotspot when Wi-Fi is down or unavailable. For anyone who’s tried to set one up before, it’s not the smoothest process. Mobile hotspots are disabled by default, so you need to enable it in settings and set up a Wi-Fi connection with a password, then sign into the new Wi-Fi hotspot you created with your other device. If you’re lucky, it’ll connect; if you’re unlucky, you’ll need to try other ways of pairing into QR codes or Bluetooth, USB, or Ethernet tethering.

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The idea behind Instant Hotspot is similar to what already exists on Apple devices with Continuity and Chrome OS with instant tethering. With Chrome, if you have an Android phone with mobile data, you can pair it with your Chromebook, and the Chromebook will use your phone’s Wi-Fi as a hotspot when it can’t connect to any other Wi-Fi network. It’s a tremendously useful feature when the laptop, Chromebook, or tablet you’re using doesn’t have cellular connectivity.

Chrome OS tethering Google

Android Authority speculates that Samsung may have opted out of this feature because it hopes to keep users in its own ecosystem. Our hope is that Samsung may be trying to roll out something similar for just Samsung devices rather than blocking a useful feature entirely.

Fortunately, there are some ways to get around this. We already mentioned that Chrome OS supports one-click tethering, but so does Windows. If you use the Phone Link feature, you can pair your phone with any Windows PC or laptop, letting you send and receive text messages, run apps, and mirror your phone’s screen. That said, as a Samsung user who frequently uses a mobile hotspot when I travel, I’m hoping that Instant Hotspot will still eventually come to Samsung phones.

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