Pixel Slate/Pixelbook features don’t work on G-Suite

The Pixelbook and the Slate share one big caveat: Most of their advertised features aren’t available if you’re using a G-Suite account as your primary Google account. And that’s terrible.

Since the Pixelbook was introduced, Chrome OS comes with a feature called Instant Tethering that allows the device to talk to your Pixel phone to establish a hotspot as soon as Chrome OS is offline but wants to connect to the Internet.

The Slate also comes with a power button that works as a fingerprint reader, which Google branded as Pixel Imprint. If you use a G-Suite account to sign into your new Pixel-branded device, both of these features aren’t available because Chrome OS requires them to be enabled via a device policy, even you never opted for device management.

I tried to enable these features in the admin console but according to the search results, the necessary policies don’t exist. Contacting the G-Suite support didn’t help either. They didn’t even know the Slate existed and instead tried to send me links me instructions on how to debug logging in to an Android tablet. Thanks, but no thanks. Then I mentioned Pixel Imprint, hoping it would make it easier to find the necessary customer support documentation. Well, now they assumed I had issues with a Pixel phone, because its fingerprint reader is also named Pixel Imprint. After I made sure to let them know that I’m not trying to sign in using a Pixel phone but a Pixel Slate, they recommended I contact the manufacturer. Yeah, thanks. I cheekily replied that was doing that right now and attached a link to the device in the Google Store. I waited for a couple of minutes until the supporter replied again. That must have been rather embarrassing for them. It was pretty clear by now that the support wasn’t briefed on the device’s existence and that there was no support material to speak of, in case a customer ever faced an issue with the device.

I’ve always been mixing my Gmail and my G-Suite accounts, because of some obscure limitations Google puts place here and there, but my primary account on the Slate is now my Gmail account. My mails, files, Calendar and Keep Notes reside in G-Suite but the remainder of the stuff I’m using will keep on going to the Gmail account. It’s pretty disappointing that Google is selling a productivity device with some key features not working on their productivity oriented business-product. Since Instant Tethering still isn’t available as a policy in the console more than a year after the release of the Pixelbook, I don’t expect a policy for Pixel Imprint to appear anytime soon.

Update: You can enable these features if you opt for an annual device management license for your device. Go to Device management, select Chrome, select User & Browser Settings and find the setting in the Security section.