Everyone knows that Google is lost when it comes to messaging, but the company could be implementing a popular feature from iMessage when the latest version of Android reaches public availability.
SMS Connect appears to be a new app/service hidden within Android 8.1 Oreo. If you open it, the app explains its purpose. Users can send and receive text messages on a Chromebook with SMS Connect Enabled.
The setup is simple as users just have to opt-in on their phone and hit a toggle on a Chromebook linked to the same Google Account.
While neither the app nor the Chrome OS toggle can be easily accessible, people with knowledge of developer settings can see both options. Actually using SMS Connect, though, remains impossible even after setup. Google isn’t ready for SMS Connect to go live, which is why it’s hidden within the Developer Preview for Android 8.1.
It’s believed that Google will implement SMS Connect during device setup rather than leaving the app sitting unused for a bit. And, on top of that, it could be an exclusive for Google’s Pixel devices.
Owners of Android devices have been asking for a feature like this for years. Apple’s iMessage is able to sync across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Google, meanwhile, was able to get Project Fi customers the same capability only if they used Hangouts. But non-Project Fi customers were left being limited to their phones for text messages or using a third-party app. Hopefully the company rolls out SMS Connect soon, and maybe down the road Google will make it available on Windows and macOS in addition to Chrome OS.
Android 8.1 is now available for the Pixel 2, Pixel, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X. The public release isn’t out, but you can enroll in the Android Beta program to get it right now.