Google and Apple are always playing catch-up with each other, and this latest feature release is another one of those. It’s called Instant Tethering, and it allows Android devices that are associated with the same Google account to effortlessly tether off of each other.
When you loose connection on one device, you’ll get a prompt for tethering to the other device for internet access. There’s no setup besides tapping connect, and everything is done through a Bluetooth connection.
How is this copying off of Apple? When my iPhone is on and in Bluetooth proximity to my MacBook, I can go into the WiFi settings and see my iPhone listed as a hotspot, along with its cell signal strength and battery percentage. Google has done practically the same thing, except from tablet to phone or phone to phone, instead of iPhone to computer.
This feature is rolling out in Google Play Services 10.2, but it appears to be a server-side change. If you don’t have it yet, then you can try downloading the APK below, or just wait for it to come to you. It’s rolling out now for Pixel and Nexus devices running Nougat 7.1.1. The Pixel C and Nexus 9 will only support the client side, only being able to connect to the Pixel/Nexus device. But, your Pixel or Nexus will be able to broadcast the hotspot signal. The phones can also connect to each other. Hopefully, more devices will be getting this feature — especially after it has been proven to work.