Apple’s AirDrop, the feature that lets iOS users seamlessly transfer files across the company’s devices, has been the envy of Android users for a while. Don’t worry: Google listened, and is working on its own version of AirDrop called Nearby Sharing. Although the feature hasn’t been released yet, we now have an idea of what Android’s file-sharing system could look like.
XDA Developers managed to get Nearby Sharing working on two Pixel phones, the Pixel 2 XL and the Pixel 4. Originally called “Fast Share,” it is Google’s successor to Android Beam, a service that used NFC, Bluetooth and wifi to transfer files that Google pulled the plug on last year. Although the folks at XDA Developers carried out their file transfer test on two Pixel phones, another of the site’s developers managed to try out Nearby Sharing on a Pixel 2 XL and a OnePlus 7T Pro.
Based on the Pixel-OnePlus test, XDA Developers believes that NearbySharing will, in general, be a feature accessible for Android devices with Google Play Services pre-installed. Nonetheless, this won’t be known for sure until Google releases the feature.
In the test, which you can see for yourself in the video below, Nearby Sharing seemed easy to use. Google’s new feature lets you choose the account you want to use with Nearby Sharing, change the name that shows up when you’re sharing files and set device visibility. In terms of visibility, you can allow your device to be visible to all nearby Google contacts, only certain Google contacts or remain hidden.
If you choose this last option, you have to manually turn on Nearby Sharing to receive a file.
Nearby Sharing also lets you specify whether you want to use your phone’s data for file transfers. Google lets you choose between using data to transfer small files, using wifi only or allowing transfers without Internet.
According to XDA Developers, the feature uses Bluetooth and Location Services, the latter of which is used to find nearby devices for transfers. At the moment, Nearby Sharing can apparently only be used with devices that are within 1-foot of each other.
The file transfer test worked pretty well in the XDA Developer video. Nearby Sharing was able to transfer photos perfectly, but has a hiccup when transferring video and didn’t manage to do so on the first try. It did carry out the task the second time around, though.
Apparently, having an AirDrop clone has turned into a must-have for phone manufacturers. This month, Samsung announced that it was planning on launching Quick Share for its devices. Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo are also releasing a cross-device file transfer feature. Let the AirDrop race begin.