Google’s addition of the Phone Hub to Chrome OS is a welcome one – being able to access your phone notifications, toggle your handheld’s wifi hotspot, and even ring it if it gets lost – all from your laptop. It’s a lot better, in my humble opinion than Microsoft’s ‘Your Phone’ application for Windows. It also feels a lot more native as it’s built directly into your Chromebook shelf too! Unfortunately, it’s been a bit of a battery vampire since it launched.
However, EuroJournal has discovered a new Chromium Repository commit that shows this may soon completely change. Instead of pinging your connected phone every five seconds to check for new notifications and other relevant information for Phone Hub to operate properly, it will instead wait 15 seconds.
[PhoneHub] Set keep alive and timeout longer for battery life
This change allows the nearby connections client to request a specific keep alive and timeout when making a connection to a nearby device. Nearby Share keeps the default values, while Phone Hub opts to use a more battery friendly option. The change for Phone Hub is gated by a feature flag so it can be rolled out when the Android side is ready.
In doing so, Google is hoping to slow the drain on your phone battery enough to make the Hub worth using. 15 seconds doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is technically three times longer than the current setup. Additionally, if Phone Hub can’t find your device after 60 seconds, it will stop checking for it. Kent over at EuroJournal states that his phone battery drains rapidly when connected to the Hub, and I’m sure other users have this issue as well. I personally just leave my phone on the Pixel stand when I’m using my laptop, but I can see this being a problem for anyone who is on the go and has linked their devices together without an outlet nearby.
Regardless, having 30% of your phone battery left at the end of the day without even picking it up is just ridiculous. I hope these improvements roll out soon, but the commit states that we’ll need to wait until the Android end of the update is developed and ready before we get a Chrome flag to test it out. I’m interested in hearing whether or not you use Phone Hub whatsoever or if you prefer just to pick your phone up off of the table and operate it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve experienced severe battery drain or not.