Phone Hub for Chrome OS won’t destroy your phone’s battery in a future update

Phone Hub was a big deal when Google launched it with Chrome OS 89 a few months back. The feature finally brought the cross-device synergy that Android and Chromebook fans have been waiting for, with the ability to respond to your phone’s messages, view its status, and more. The launch didn’t go smoothly at all, however, with many reporting bugs like severe Android battery drain that outweighs any reason to use it. That may soon change, though, as Google is finally working on a fix to prevent it from killing your phone’s battery.

We spotted a work-in-progress commit over at the Chromium Gerrit that will enable a more efficient connection between your Chromebook and Android smartphone. Previously, Chrome OS would poll its connection status with your phone at frequent intervals (every five seconds). Although it provides accurate statistics about your phone’s status (like battery and network), it came with the considerable trade-off of consuming more battery.

A new commit reduces the frequency your Chromebook polls your phone.

With the above commit, your Chromebook will wait longer before it checks in with your phone. This means that it’ll take a bit longer for your phone’s status (like battery levels) to update, but it should be less taxing on the battery. Google defines how long it will wait until it pings a keepalive in this file — it’ll poll every 15 seconds as opposed to five, and if it hasn’t managed to establish a connection after 60 seconds, it’ll give up. The improvements will eventually be ready to test behind a Chrome flag when the Android side supports it — presumably through a Google Play services update in the near future.

I can’t wait for this improvement to land. As it is today, Phone Hub completely demolishes my Pixel 5’s battery life — I normally finish the day with ~30% battery left, but with Phone Hub, my device dies at the end (similar to another Pixel 5 user). Many others are experiencing the same issue on varying devices, with Android attributing the excessive battery drain to Google Play services. Turning Phone Hub is the only remedy at present. Hopefully, the fix for this won’t take too long. I’ll report back about this issue when the improvements arrive behind a Chrome flag.

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