Google’s New ‘Push’ Feature Could Bring App Handoffs Between Chromebooks and Android

Google’s New ‘Push’ Feature Could Bring App Handoffs Between Chromebooks and Android
Photo: Sam Rutherford

Google has been working to provide better integration between Android phones and Chromebooks for years with features like its Phone Hub, but with its new “Push” feature, Google looks like it’s closer to delivering a proper alternative to Apple’s Handoff feature for Macs and iPhones.

After being noticed in the first Android 12 preview back in February, as part of its APK Insight series, 9to5Google spotted a recent update that sheds some new light on a promising upcoming feature headed to Google phones and laptops.

According to 9to5Google, Push will be presented as a new button in Android 12 that will allow you to “Use your phone’s apps directly on [a Chromebook] when you’re at home,” so you can more easily switch between devices without wasting time figuring out where you left off.

On Chrome OS devices, the handoff from Android phones will be handled by a new feature codenamed “Eche” that supports mirroring apps from Android phones. Unfortunately, the inclusion of a string (com.google.pixel.exo) suggests that the new Push feature may be exclusive to Google’s first-party Pixel phones, at least initially.

9to5Google found that there are currently two ways of pushing an app from a phone to a Chromebook: opening the Recents menu in Android 12 and manually pressing the Push button, or clicking on one of the mirrored notifications that pop up inside Chrome OS, eliminating the need to touch your phone at all.

However, instead of running the new app natively on your Chromebook, it seems the way Push works is by streaming a video feed from your phone to your Chromebook, which seems a bit strange considering most Chromebooks already come with the ability to run Android apps natively in Chrome OS.

That said, if Google wanted to save the current state of the app on your phone in order to send that data to your Chromebook and reopen it there, 9to5Google says that process might require developers to potentially make big changes to the way their apps are coded, which could make the feature much more difficult to implement across the millions of various Android apps.

Currently, it’s not clear when Google’s new Push feature for Android phones and Chromebooks will become officially available. But with Google rumoured to be prepping for a big product showcase for the Pixel 6 and other Google devices sometime this fall (most likely in October if previous events are any indication), there’s a good chance Push will get released sometime before the end of the year.