Android 8.1 will be a much smaller update compared to the transition from Nougat to Oreo, but the new version of the mobile operating system will still bring in some interesting enhancements making it a worthwhile upgrade for many. One of these expected improvements is something that will change the way of communication between your devices.
During an investigation of the Android 8.1 Oreo Developer Preview, Ars Technica spotted an APK called "SMSConnectPrebuilt" within the beta. According to the publication, users cannot access the APK by default; it needs to be launched through an activity browser to get a setup screen for "SMS Connect."
The "SMS Connect" feature, however, doesn't appear to be proper application. It could rather be an option integrated into Android's settings which will pop up while setting up the device for the first time.
The splash screen of the feature shows a messaging icon, which is followed by the text "Set up SMS Connect" in Google's new Product Sans font. The message underneath that reads like this:
"Read and reply to messages on your Chromebook. To set up SMS Connect, allow access to your phone calls, messages, and contacts. Your wireless carrier's standard messaging rates may apply."
Once you grant permission and hit the Next button in the bottom right corner of the screen, it takes you to another screen saying "You'll get notifications for new text messages on your Chromebook."
When it comes to accessing SMS Connect via Chromebook, you can do it by typing "chrome://flags" into the address bar, which will turn on "Enable Multidevice features." The next step you need to perform is to restart the machine.
The new feature, however, doesn't seem to work right now. According to Ars Technica, it currently appears to be nothing but a "placeholder functionality."
"I think these screens will eventually be part of the initial phone setup. The screen looks like a perfect match for the existing setup process with a white screen, blue buttons, and a circular image motif," Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica wrote.
Google released the Android 8.1 Oreo Developer Preview earlier this week to the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel C, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The final version of OS update is scheduled for release sometime in December.