Google looks poised to combine various features of Android and Chrome OS. It makes sense with the recent release of the brand new Pixelbook, a high-end version of the Chromebook. If Google wants the Pixelbook to mirror the experience of the Pixel smartphone line, it looks as though the ability to send and receive text messages via the notebooks will soon be a reality.
A hidden feature in the developer preview of Android 8.1 called "SMS Connect" was spotted by Ars Technica, and once opened, "advertises the ability to read and reply to text messages on your Chromebook."
Bringing SMS functionality that mirrors what users receive on their smartphone isn't a groundbreaking feature, but many would welcome the option if built right into the OS.
Windows owners have had to look to third party solutions to activate SMS integration, while Apple devices have had the ability with the launch of iMessage on macOS. The discovery of SMS Connect in Android 8.1 implies a unified experience will soon be possible with Chrome.
Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica uncovered the APK called "SMSConnectPrebuilt" and found that once opened via an activity browser, a placeholder setup page alerts that once SMS Connect is registered to a Chrome OS device, SMS messages can be sent and received from a Chromebook. A "SMS Connect" toggle does appear on Chrome OS in settings, but switching it on doesn't does nothing.
Amadeo notes the layout of each screen (Product Sans font, blue buttons, circular image motif) signifies they may be part of the initial setup for the Pixel smartphones in upcoming Android builds and possibly a Pixel exclusive, at least upon its initial release. Even if that is the case, it's likely support for other devices will be added in future updates.
How do you feel about all of the features slated to release with Android 8.1? Have you been waiting for official Google support for SMS functionality on your Chromebook? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think.