Google Tone Swaps Links With Nearby PCs Using Only Sound

Just as humans are capable of communicating with each other verbally, what if PCs could do the same thing? That's sort of the idea behind Tone, a Chrome browser extension cooked up by Google that, at this early stage, is pretty rudimentary but also interesting. In its current state, Tone can broadcast the URL of the current tab to any machine within earshot that also has the extension installed.

What's the point? Google argues that the simple concept of sharing has become more complex than it needs to be during this day and age of digital devices. Email and chat exist and are great for long distance sharing, but as far as Google is concerned, such solutions are overkill when you're looking to share something with somebody right next to you.

Google Tone

"Tone aims to make sharing digital things with nearby people as easy as talking to them," Google said in a blog post. "The first version was built in an afternoon for fun (which resulted in numerous rickrolls), but we increasingly found ourselves using it to share documents with everyone in a meeting quickly, to exchange design files back and forth while collaborating on UI design, and to contribute relevant links without interrupting conversations."

Tone is not perfect. It doesn't pass through walls and obstacles like your 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi connections do. And because it's audio based, there are several factors that come into play, such as the orientation of laptops relative to each other, acoustic characteristics of the space, speaker volume, and mic sensitivity.

"Not every nearby machine will always receive every broadcast, just like not everyone will always hear every word someone says. But resending is painless and debugging generally just requires raising the volume," Google added.

If you want to try it out yourself, you can grab the Tone extension here.