When the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were released, there was a rather interesting system app that was pre-installed on the two devices. Called “SMS Connect,” the app will presumably help you sync your SMS with a Chromebook. While the app is currently non-functional, its setup activity can be accessed which allows us to see exactly what the app does. Furthermore, we can also enable a flag on Chrome OS that reveals the corresponding setting that toggles SMS Connect on Chromebooks.
SMS Connect app on the Google Pixel 2 XL running Android 8.1 Oreo
SMS Connect setting on Chrome OS
Although the SMS sync feature is not yet live, there are hints that Google is planning to integrate an Android device with a Chromebook even further. According to a commit we found in the Chromium gerrit, Google is working on a set of features they are internally calling “Better Together.”
A new flag is being worked on, that, when enabled, will show a menu in Chrome OS settings for “unified Better Together settings.” The flag description states that it will allow a Chromebook to “setup all Better Together services in a single workflow.” Note the “service” that I emphasized—thus far, all we’ve known about is SMS integration, but there could be more coming such as notification or files sync (at least, we hope so).
So how do we know that this flag is related to SMS Connect? That’s because it is filed under the label [CrOS MultiDevice], which also refers to the flags to enable SMS Connect (or at least, show the settings UI for it). Hence, it’s clear that “Better Together” is related to SMS Connect, though we don’t know what kind of “services” may fall under its purview apart from SMS Connect.
The addition of this flag is rather curious, as we’ve previously seen hints that Android Messages may allow for texting over desktop browsers. In addition to that potential feature, it looks like Google may give Chrome OS owners some added benefits if they also own an Android device. It’s possible that Google may restrict “Better Together” features to work only on the Google Pixel phones—at least initially. If you are among the many who own a Windows 10 PC, you can use apps like PushBullet, Join, or Cortana to sync your Android smartphone right now with your computer.
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