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Google Rolling Out Instant Tethering to Nexus and Pixel Devices

Instant Tethering, a feature created by Google to make the act of tethering two devices somewhat magical, is officially rolling out to a select number of devices. 

According to Google’s Omri Amarilio, the feature utilizes Bluetooth to establish a connection quickly between two devices signed into the same Google account. For example, if you have a Pixel C tablet with no data, plus a Pixel with active data, you can establish a data connection to the Pixel C in just moments.

As Amarilio describes, “When you unlock a tablet such as the Pixel C, it will notice if there is no internet connection available, and will ask your Pixel phone if it has internet and battery life. If it does, we will give you an option to enable a secure hotspot and pair automagically, without even taking your phone out of your pocket.”

Listed on Google’s support page for Instant Tethering, the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P running Android 7.1.1 and up can run as “host” devices. A receiving device will need to be a Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel C, or Nexus 9 running Android 6.0 and up.

Of much importance, Google highlights that certain carriers have their own limitations when it comes to tethering.

Some cellular carriers limit or charge extra for tethering. We recommend checking with your carrier.

If your cell plan is green lighted for all sorts of tethering, and you have the required hardware with the latest Android build (and we know that’s not many of you), enjoy it.

To find it, head to: Settings, Google, Instant Tethering.


Via: Google [2]
  • Sean Rowe

    Anyone see this on the 6P with Verizon? I’ve tethered since I got the phone thru a hotspot, not sure if VZW likes it, but it’s always worked. I am on a grandfathered unlimited plan.

  • Higher_Ground

    convenient but not all that useful.

  • Trusstohper

    Shame this won’t work with my Nexus 10 tablet – it’s not THAT old… that’s a lie.

  • Tiuri Elvander

    I wish they’d add the Nexus 7 as a client device

  • donlyrick

    Doesn’t work on a Google store bought Pixel XL with a Verizon sim card!!! Although my Nexus 6P hotspot works just fine with the same sim card

  • fritzo2162

    I don’t get it- if I turn my hotspot on with one button, my other device connects automatically. Is this allowing you to turn the hotspot on your phone on FROM the tablet?

    • JC

      I might be wrong, but I believe the whole point of this is so you don’t have to use hotspot through the carrier. I believe they are implying, that you are able to teether for free from device to device with Bluetooth thanks to Google. If you are using hotspot through you phone carrier, they charge for that service and data. Like I said, I might be wrong, but that’s my first take on reading this.. and I’m hope I’m right, because this would be step in the right direction.

      • fritzo2162

        Most carriers aren’t charging for hotspot access anymore though…

        • JC

          Most plans still do in some sort of way. Like personally, I’m on T-Mobile and have unlimited everything including data on phone. But when I turn on hotspot for the device, I’m capped at 5gigs of high-speed hotspot. After I use that much, it slows downs cometely. But if I was using Google trick on the said devices, like let’s say one of the tablets, then my carriers hotspot capped data wouldn’t be a factor. It would be like I’m using my cell phone data directly from the phone on the other device and not being stopped by carrier…. Of course that’s in my situation. But, there are plenty of plans that have hotspot but only have a certain amount due to monthly fee, or some who don’t have it untill you pay extra to use. This is Google saying here is a way to get around it on these limited devices… Like one person said below, no one really wants to pay for teetering when you already paying for the data, but it’s just a way these carriers are keeping you locked in.

          • alex drum

            You have T-Mobile… data/speed caps and under every rock and around every corner… Really wouldn’t say T-Mobile is the norm in this. T-Mobile Could prob fill a 100 page book with all the exceptions/rules they have for their data.

      • Cory S

        No, it is just using bluetooth to turn on the wifi hotspot. This has nothing to do with getting around tether limitations.

    • alex drum

      On google’s support page it just says “bluetooth and WiFi must be on”… So I’m assuming that it will automatically activate your WiFi hotspot.


  • Tyler Shortt

    Anybody notice that when this tethering gets triggered (in my case on a pixel xl and a pixel c) and it’s rejected, the Bluetooth gets disabled?

  • QLR

    I see… I had a Tracfone SIM in my phone and the option doesn’t show up on my 6P; I placed my Verizon UDP SIM in it and the option shows up. Yay. Too bad I have no other device to test it with.

  • Rich Robinson

    I don’t have this option in my Pixel XL…

    • sn2hotty

      It may take a while to get it. Android Central says it comes with an update to Google Play Services. Maybe you didn’t get the update yet.

  • jonzey231

    Saw AP write about it a while back but I didn’t actually see it on mine until a couple days ago when I flashed the new image on my 6P.

  • Cory S

    Windows 10 has had something like this for windows phones for a while. I have really been wanting an android compatible version of it. I have been using tasker to do this with other android devices for sometime…but to have a laptop do the same is a lot more complicated.

  • needa

    It would be nice if the gov’t would step in and make it law that these carriers have to allow us to get our data however we choose. Whether it be on this tiny screen that strains my eyes after an hour of use, or a laptop that is tethered to my phone.

    • espnman36

      Then the new pro-business Administration will never make such a law.

      • needa

        Probably not. Just as the last administration didn’t.

    • Cowboydroid

      It would be nice if a company would step up and provide the service as a key differentiator to their product, and thereby steal market share from the lousy companies that don’t offer it.

      • needa

        Maybe we will see it with 5g. Probably not, but I can hope.

      • alex drum

        Finally someone who thinks in terms of a free market. You my friend are a rare breed around these parts.

  • Joel Hardman

    Question. I’m signed up for Android Beta on my pixel, so I’m on 7.1.2, but I’m still on January’s security update. Can I have both, or do I have to wait till 7.1.2 stable to get the February security update?

    • The security update is of the overall OS, so you can’t have both separately. 7.1.2’s next beta release will likely include all the February security updates.

  • cadtek91

    Aw no Nexus 5 🙁

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    How does that Instant Apps setting work?

  • Allen George

    Going to have to put that build.prop hack back in so I can tether. UDP on Verizon and they can eat it for trying to charge me to use my data.

    • Mike Levy

      This isn’t going to help bypass that. I guess you missed the part in the article where it mentions that some cellular carriers will limit or charge extra for tethering. You’d fall into the “charge extra” category.

      • Allen George

        It has worked forever on Verizon. I don’t have the feature showing up on my Pixel, but the build.prop hack is working on 7.1.2. I just added it.

      • espnman36

        The edit to the build. Prop should work, theoretically. It bypasses the carrier provisioning so when you activate this particular method of tethering it’s not going to do a carrier check. Again this is theoretical

      • espnman36

        so I can confirm, with this new setting using a build.prop edit does bypass the carrier provisioning. Posting this while tethered using the setting above and build.prop edit

    • espnman36

      I’ve been using the build. Prop hack for a while. Hopefully that still works for this new setting. It bypasses the carrier provisioning so it should work, theoretically

    • trixnkix637

      I have hot spot/tethering added on my unlimited plan. It’s only $24 a month too. Might want to look into it.

  • If only there was a decent Chromebook or tablet that didn’t cost $500 that worked with this. Got 13GB/mo of tethering with my plan so this would be awesome!

    • James

      From the list above, it looks like no Chromebooks are currently supported anyway.

      • Precisely

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  • Daniel Garcia

    I have 7.1.1 on My N6P and do not have this option. 🙁 And I have the ability to tether too.

  • Qbancelli

    I had this on my N6 for weeks.

  • Suicide_Note

    Got it on my XL. I’ll have to try this with my 6P later.