Android's new Nearby Sharing feature replaced the old Android Beam last year, and it makes swapping files or other content between Android devices much easier. But if you preferred the tap-based mechanics of the old system, we've got a small surprise for you. Turns out, you can use NFC to bump content between phones with Nearby Sharing just like you could with Android Beam.
Normally, when you open Nearby Sharing, your phone does a blanket broadcast to local devices looking for a target to share things with. Other devices nearby will see it or not, depending on both your and the target's device visibility settings. Anyone in range with the right settings can see the notification and accept whatever is being sent. But you can actually bypass that whole thing and even trigger Nearby Sharing to open on a phone that's set not to show notifications by default.
Just pull up the Nearby Share prompt on your phone and tap it to the back of another device. So long as both have NFC enabled, the target device will also open Nearby Sharing, regardless of the visibility settings for either phone. In our testing, whether you have device visibility set to Hidden or All Contacts, the phone you tap against can see the invitation.
If the target phone doesn't have Nearby Share enabled yet, tapping the phones together will also trigger the setup process, which is convenient.
Thankfully, the actual transmission process doesn't use NFC, so you don't have to hold your phones back-to-back while sending content between phones; it's just an option to kickstart the process.
Google's support document for Nearby Sharing used to mention NFC outright, hinting more directly at the persistence of the tap-to-share feature, but that reference has since been removed. Though the document still says it works by holding phones "close to each other," this Android Beam-like functionality is still a little hidden.
If you miss Android Beam's tap-to-share functionality, rest assured that Nearby Share can do the same thing, even if you weren't previously aware of it.
- Sir Plew