What is the Instant Tethering Feature that Google is Rolling Out to Android Devices?

instant tethering

Google appears to be rolling out a brand new feature for Play Services 10.2 that allows your Android devices to piggyback on each others’ mobile data and remain online all the time.

Called Instant Tethering, the Google Play Service 10.2 feature allows your Google Pixel or Nexus device to automatically provide a hotspot for all your Android devices, and vice versa, providing they are signed in to the same Google account.

What this does is to ensure that you’re always online even if you lose cellular data signal on any one of your devices.

But Wait…

At least, that’s the plan Google has in mind when it completes the rollout. However, there seem to be several restrictions at this point.

First of all, Instant Tethering only works with Google Pixel and Nexus devices running Android 7.1.1 Nougat, for now.

Second, the Nexus 9 and Pixel C only work as clients, meaning they can connect to a hotspot provided by an eligible device, but not provide the hotspot.

Third, client devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow can also piggyback on an Instant Tethering-eligible device’s hotspot connection.

Fourth, the rollout still seems to be underway for eligible devices, so even if you update to Play Services 10.2, you may not see the feature right away. If available, it should appear in your connection settings, and it looks something like this:

The great part is, once you set this up on all your devices, the connectivity is managed via Bluetooth so you don’t need to do anything extra. When a device loses its connection, it will ask you if you want to connect to an available hotspot from one of the other devices.

To be honest, we’re not really sure how this will be useful for more than a couple of devices at a time. For one, not many people carry more than a phone and a tablet at one time. And you can’t use Instant Tethering to share a connection when you’re out with your friends because it requires all the devices to be signed in to the same Google accounts. As such, how valuable can such a feature be?

That’s about all the information we were able to dig up for now. We should be hearing more about the feature and additional eligible devices very soon. We’ll keep you posted.

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