Here is Google’s Nearby Sharing feature in action

Ricky, 24 January 2020

Last year, an XDA teardown suggested that Google was working on a new file sharing protocol that would supersede Android Beam – the NFC and Bluetooth based file-transfer solution that was discontinued in Android 10. Thanks to XDA Developers we are finally getting a demo of how the feature will work – and it’s very similar to Apple’s AirDrop.

The feature is (un)officially called “Nearby Sharing” and works with the same components as AirDrop: It requires Bluetooth and Location to handshake with the devices and Wi-Fi to complete the data transfer.

Like AirDrop, you can decide whether you want anyone to be able to send you files or only your contacts. Once installed, it also enables a new Quick Settings tile that lets you toggle your visibility on and off to receive files. Here are three different settings for sharing files and their descriptions:

  • Data: Data may be uysed for small files (chargers may apply)
  • Wi-Fi only: Never use data to share
  • Without Internet: Files will always be shared offline

It seems that the feature may use data to send smaller files over a (hopefully secure) data connection. ‘Wi-Fi only’ seems like the most logical way to send files to someone standing right next to you. The “Without internet” option raises questions – will Bluetooth be used to transmit files or is there some other wired kind of protocol that we don’t know about yet?

Once you have a file or files selected, a “Share Nearby” icon appears in the sharing menu, where you’ll see devices nearby. If you’ve ever used AirDrop or Huawei Share, it works the exact same way. Both devices should have the “Nearby Sharing” feature enabled, and the recipient must accept the file’s receipt.

The video shows the feature working between a Google Pixel 2 XL and Google Pixel 4. It was, however, proven to work between a Pixel 2 XL and a OnePlus 7T Pro, so we are expecting Nearby Share to work across all Android devices.

I was personally disappointed to see Android Beam gone, but Nearby Share is what Google should have launched its Files App with in the first place. Though you can share files over Wi-Fi with the Google Files app, the process is much more involved.

We don't know when the feature will arrive to Android, but it hasn't yet been announced by Google. We hope it arrives at Google I/O or before.

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Reader comments

  • Anonymous

I don't like what Google's doing. Not just in terms of the restrictions with 8, 9 and 10. I think that removing Android Beam was a mistake. I think that the way they approached Near Share is a mistake too. Google sometimes opts for standar...

  • Anonymous

It's not illegal. I don't know why you though that

Woah, nice!

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