Android used to let you quickly share links and files between devices thanks to Android Beam, but the NFC-handshake-based technology has never seen wide adoption, so Google sunset it with the launch of Android 10. Instead, the company is working on a new, more powerful solution called “Fast Share” or “Nearby Sharing” as part of the Google Play Services. Android app developer Kieron Quinn managed to activate the feature, and it looks unapologetically similar to Apple AirDrop.
Kieron Quinn got Nearby Sharing working on a Pixel 2 XL and a OnePlus 7T Pro — in contrast to the insular solution from Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo, Google’s local file transfer seems to work across all modern Android handsets with Play Services. In Quinn’s video, we can see that Nearby Sharing or Fast Share will get its own entry in Android’s share menu. When you tap it, your phone starts looking for nearby devices, which prompts a notification on close-by smartphones, asking its owners if they want to make themselves visible to the sender. From what we’ve seen earlier, you can also set preferred, automatic visibility for some contacts and change your device’s name. Once the transmitting party can see the potential receiving handset, they can select it as a target and send a file its way — no further confirmation is necessary on the target.
Video and article on @xdadevelopers pic.twitter.com/o4m2umFB4T
— Kieron Quinn (@Quinny898) January 24, 2020
XDA Developer’s Mishaal Rahman has activated Nearby Sharing on some of his phones, too, and can provide more insight on the feature. He reports that he could transfer a 3.5GB .img file from a Pixel 4 to a Pixel 2 XL in a little more than two minutes, making it faster than many internet-based solutions. The technology relies on Wi-Fi, but you don’t need to be on the same network to get it to work. When you deactivate your phone’s Wi-Fi radio, Nearby Sharing will fall back to Bluetooth, leading to extremely slow transmissions.
An update on Google’s Nearby Sharing:
Just transferred a 3.5GB .img file from a Pixel 4 to a Pixel 2 XL in 2m4s. So yes, it’s definitely way faster than Android Beam. pic.twitter.com/zdFhOi2TWc
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) January 24, 2020
Nearby Sharing looks as good as ready for launch, so hopefully, Google won’t run into any major roadblocks preventing a timely release. There are still some unknowns, though. We’ve yet to see if there are any file size limitations, and all tested phones run Android 10, so it might only be available on the latest version of the OS. Either way, we’ll know more once Google makes Nearby Sharing or Fast Share available.