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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.
Last year, a new "verification code autofill" setting appeared as part of a Play Services update that promised to plug the SMS-based 2FA gap for apps that use Android's snazzy SMS Retriever API for verification codes. In short, it would be another way to autofill SMS 2FA codes that might be able to work with any app, regardless of developer support. And based on user reports, the feature may be rolling out.
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.
Certain apps are able to automatically input SMS verification codes through Google's SMS Retriever API. If the app doesn't utilize the API, Android Messages is able to detect those codes and let users copy them right from the SMS notification. Now, it appears that Google is about to close the gap by having its own Autofill service pull SMS verification codes all by itself with the latest Google Play services update.
Google Play Services is both a blessing and a curse. Over the years, the software has become the essential motor driving Android devices, with a lot of former system APIs being transferred to the all-encompassing software. Push notifications, background operations, fast GPS functionality, and more are bundled within the application. Unfortunately, this means that any bugs with Play Services will affect almost all devices running a Google-sanctioned version of Android. Such a bug has surfaced with the latest update to version number 18.3.82, which churns through standby battery regardless of which phone you're using.
Android 4.0, nicknamed 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' was an exciting release. It brought all the improvements in Honeycomb back to smartphones, and for the first time ever, Android had a somewhat-cohesive visual style. However, those days have long since passed, with 4.0-4.0.4 now representing less than 0.5% of the overall Android install base.
We reported yesterday that trusted places — Android's method for keeping your device unlocked when it's in certain locations such as your home — was no longer an option in Smart Lock settings. But surprise: it's back! Is this our doing? Well, no, probably not.
Smart Lock, a feature that lets Android users specify conditions under which their devices will unlock without requiring the usual fingerprint, PIN, or pattern authentication, now has one less use case. Trusted Places could previously set a phone or tablet to remain unlocked when it was in a (well) trusted place, like at home, but that option seems to have disappeared.