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Android's new Instant Hotspot feature won't be available on Samsung devices

You’ll still be able to seamlessly share your Samsung phone’s hotspot with Chromebooks but not with many Android tablets.

Published onMay 30, 2024

Samsung logo stock photo from CES 2024 (3)
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Android’s new Instant Hotspot feature won’t be available on Samsung devices.
  • Instant Hotspot is a new feature that lets you easily connect your Android tablet or Chromebook to your phone’s hotspot with a single tap.
  • This capability already existed on Chrome OS in the form of instant tethering, but no such capability previously existed between Android phones and tablets from different brands.

Google just unveiled its latest Android Feature Drop earlier today, and it’s one of the most exciting feature drops I can remember. The two features I’m most excited about are part of Play Services’s new Cross-Device Services module, which brings some Apple Continuity-style magic to your Android devices. For example, the new Instant Hotspot feature lets you connect your Android tablet or Chromebook to your phone’s hotspot with a single tap. Instant Hotspot works with phones running Android 11 or newer, with one notable exception: Samsung devices. According to Google, Instant Hotspot will not be available on any Samsung devices.

Instant Hotspot availability
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

If you have an Android tablet or Chromebook that lacks cellular connectivity, then you may find yourself in a situation where you have to use your phone’s data connection to bring that device online. Most phones support sharing their Internet connection with other devices by creating a mobile hotspot. Since you probably don’t want random people using your data, you’ll need to set a password for your mobile hotspot.

This means the process to connect your Wi-Fi-only Android tablet or Chromebook to the Internet requires pulling out your phone, turning on its mobile hotspot, finding the mobile hotspot on your device’s Wi-Fi list, and finally entering the password you set to connect to it. This whole process can be a hassle when you’re out and about, which is why companies trying to create an ecosystem of devices usually offer some way to instantly connect your Wi-Fi-only devices to your phone’s hotspot.

Chrome OS, for example, has long had an Instant Tethering feature that lets you access the Internet on your Chromebook with a single click. All you have to do is pair a cellular-enabled Android phone to your Chromebook, and then when your Chromebook detects it can’t connect to any nearby Wi-Fi networks, it’ll show a message that you can click to instantly activate and connect to your phone’s hotspot.

Android’s new Instant Hotspot feature offers very similar functionality to Chrome OS’s Instant Tethering, except it works with Android tablets, too. This means you can instantly share your Android phone’s hotspot with your Android tablet when it needs it, all without ever entering a password. Samsung phones can already share their mobile data connection with Samsung tablets thanks to the company’s Auto Hotspot feature in One UI, but without Instant Hotspot support, they won’t be able to instantly share their mobile data connection with non-Samsung tablets.

It’s not clear exactly why Instant Hotspot isn’t available on Samsung devices. The feature is part of Google Play Services, which is available on all Google-certified Android devices, including those from Samsung. It’s likely that Samsung opted out of this particular feature, perhaps to encourage users to buy devices within their ecosystem. Regardless, Samsung users will still be able to instantly share their phone’s hotspot with their Chromebooks thanks to the existing Instant Tethering feature. And they’ll also continue to be able to do the same with any Windows PC via Link to Windows.

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