Google has started to roll out a new feature for Android devices that will allow users to remain connected to the internet when their connection is lost.
Named Instant Tethering, the feature that is part of Google Play Services 10.2 makes it easier for users to utilize their Android devices as mobile hotspots.
How Does Instant Tethering Work?
According to a post by Austrian journalist Andreas Proschofsky on his Google+ account, when instant tethering is activated, Android devices with no internet connections will be offered to go online by sharing the data of other smartphones and tablets.
The device that would like to go online and the one that will be sharing its internet connection should be linked to the same Google account, with the negotiations of the connection facilitated through Bluetooth.
It is very easy to use the feature, as once the initial set-up of the user agreeing to use it has been completed, there will be no further set-up necessary for Instant Tethering. A prompt will simply appear on the screen of the device with no connection asking if the user would like to connect to a mobile hotspot that will be created by a linked Android device. However, the prompt also warns that the device that will function as the mobile hotspot will use cellular data, will use up its battery quicker, and will disconnect from any Wi-Fi networks that it may be connected to at the time.
What's The Catch?
Instant Tethering sounds like a feature that will be very useful for people who own several Android devices, but with only one or two of them having access to mobile data.
However, Instant Tethering is currently in a limited rollout. According to Android Police, the feature is being launched first for Pixel and Nexus devices that are being powered by Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The Pixel C and Nexus 9 are also being granted the feature, but will be limited to being clients that can connect to the mobile hotspots offered by other Android devices with Instant Tethering. The Pixel C and Nexus 9 will not be able to function as mobile hotspots, but they will be able to connect to mobile hotspots created by the feature even if they are still on Android Marshmallow.
Android Police added that there is a server-side component to Instant Tethering, so compatible devices which have installed Google Play Service 10.2 might not see the feature appear right away. For these devices, it is recommended to have them restarted as that might do the trick of launching the feature.
When Will Instant Tethering Roll Out To All Android Devices?
Google has not issued an expected date for Instant Tethering to be rolled out to all Android smartphones and tablets. However, as the feature continues to be tested on Pixel and Nexus devices, more Android devices should start seeing the Instant Tethering option.
Users with non-Pixel and Nexus devices should keep checking Google Play Services every once in a while to see if the feature has arrived on their device.