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Android is finally getting Nearby Share, 9 years after Apple’s AirDrop

Here’s something to look forward to Android fans. Google is finally launching Nearby Share, a new feature for Android that will make sharing files and content between Android devices easier than ever. 

The Mountain View headquartered company said the feature is already available on some Pixel and Samsung phones. But what about the rest of the Android ecosystem? Google said the feature will work with phones running on Android 6 and up. It is slated to arrive via an update over the next few weeks.

Once it is rolled out by Google, users can find Nearby Share residing in their Quick Settings toggle when they slide the notification shade down. Once it is enabled, a tap will slide up and enables users to accept incoming transfers. Google said users can share text, links, images and videos with Nearby Share.

Much like Apple’s AirDrop feature for the iPhone, you will need to set your preferred visibility to nearby devices be it All Contacts, Some Contacts or Hidden.

To send something using Nearby Share, just use Android’s default share feature and it will appear as a near option. Click on the blue double helix icon will bring up a sheet where Android will search for devices with the feature turned on.

Users on the receiving end will be alerted by a notification that tells them a “Device nearby is sharing”. They would then be prompted to make their device visible before they can accept the transfer. Once the file is received and stored in your Downloads folder, it will automatically open.

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Nearby Share requires an Android device’s Bluetooth and location settings to be enabled. Both devices also need to be kept in close proximity while the transfer happens. Google said Nearby Share will use Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WebRTC or peer-to-peer WiFi. 

Apart from sharing files with other Android phones, Nearby Share will also work with Chromebooks in the coming months. But it is disappointing to note that the feature will not work with Windows machines, Mac and iOS devices. Google did not rule out Nearby Share coming to those platforms as it tries “to expand the feature to additional platforms in the future.”

For context, Apple introduced AirDrop on the iPhone and Mac back in 2011. To be fair, Android did go through several different iteration and ideas for file sharing though none of them stuck. Google’s previous solution Android Beam, introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), was based on NFC and required users to physically tap their devices. That feature has since taken a back seat with the introduction of last year’s Android 10.

That doesn’t seem to be the case for Google’s Nearby Share as the company said the feature can be added to any Android phone via Google Play Services instead of a full OS update. Watch the video below to see how it works.


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