2020 has been a standout year in more ways than one. On personal, national, and global levels, many of us have faced hardships and had to adapt to new realities and life-altering changes. On this day, though, I'd like to put the negative thoughts aside and focus on what has kept us rolling here at Android Police despite it all.
We love gadgets (duh), we love Android, and we love digging, finding, and reporting on the smallest and biggest features that come to those metal and glass sheets that we carry with us everywhere. Some of them are bad, bad, evil changes; others are much more welcome.
After a short hiatus yesterday, it looks like Nearby Share has returned for many again, and it seems like it's rolled out much more widely this time around. The Apple AirDrop competitor, currently still under development and not 100% officially announced, started surfacing about a month ago in beta, and began hitting stable users around a week later, but the feature disappeared for many yesterday, July 29.
This story was originally published and last updated .
If you're itching to try out Android's new Nearby Share feature, you're in luck. Google started rolling out the feature more widely just last week. Before you can get to sharing files and other content between devices, there are a few things you'll need to do.
Nearby Share, Android's AirDrop equivalent, had been teased and leaked for over a year before it finally made its shy debut at the end of June. In its limited rollout, the feature was restricted to devices running Google Play Services beta, and was also governed by a server-side test. Only a small percentage of users got it, but it now appears to be rolling out widely and coming out of beta too.
For years, Apple has allowed you to share files seamlessly with friends and across your iOS and macOS devices via AirDrop. While Android used to support something similar with the NFC-based Android Beam, the feature never really saw wide adoption and was removed with the launch of Android 10 last year. But Google has been working on a much more powerful replacement that's more in line with AirDrop: Nearby Share, which only recently showed up in an Android 11 developer video. While we initially thought it would only allow you to exchange files and links with closeby friends, evidence is mounting that sharing with Google Chrome might also be an option.
Android's long-awaited Nearby Sharing may be just about ready. The feature, which allows you to share files between Android devices quickly, easily, and wirelessly, has been compared to Apple's AirDrop, and Google has confirmed to us that a beta test for Nearby Sharing is actively rolling out via the Play Services beta. We've also managed to snag a quick hands-on to show you how it works.
The wait for an Android Beam successor may finally be coming to a close. One of Google's developer-oriented videos for Android 11, published to YouTube today, clearly shows a "nearby" option in the share sheet. Though we're not familiar with the new icon, that name and its location in the sharing menu seem clearly related to the Nearby Sharing feature we've been anticipating for the last year.
AirDroid used to be a typical part of the Android enthusiast's swiss army knife app toolkit, and it still has a strong userbase, even if some have moved on as a result of heavy in-app advertisements and security troubles. But it just picked up a new feature that might convince some folks to try it again. AirDroid now lets you share files to nearby devices AirDrop-style.
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.
If you're already missing Android Beam and the way it allowed you to share links or files from your device to another easily, there's some good news and bad news all rolled up into one item: Google is planning on rolling out a new "Fast Share" protocol through a Play services updates that will allow Android devices to share assets to other devices, primarily using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct connections.