Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Google Nearby Share Will Make Sharing With Your Own Devices A Lot Easier

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As with its messaging platforms, Google hasn’t been the most consistent when it comes to sharing files between two Android devices. Sure, Android offers a lot more freedom when it comes to sharing files via Bluetooth than iOS, but that doesn’t make it easier for most users. When it comes to quickly and effortlessly sharing files, especially photos, Apple’s AirDrop is the gold standard. Of course, that’s only available on Apple’s devices, so there’s no way to enjoy the same convenience on any other operating system. 

Over time, Google has settled on a new Nearby Share framework that tries to remove the hassles of sharing with other devices. While it’s still not at the same level as AirDrop, it is finally getting one feature that puts it closer to the competing technology. Unlike on iOS, there are many ways to share media between Android devices, not even counting manufacturer-exclusive methods like Samsung’s Quick Share. There’s Bluetooth, of course, and the slightly unreliable NFC. There are also some file managers like Google’s own Files app that utilize Wi-Fi Direct to quickly share with a nearby device. Interestingly, this is pretty much the same technology used by Nearby Share.

Previously called Fast Share, Nearby Share replaced the NFC-based Android Beam feature as the de facto sharing framework for Android. The tech’s parallels with AirDrop are pretty evident, especially in how easy it is to start sharing things, as well as the visibility options available. There are still a few areas in which Nearby Share is nowhere near as capable as AirDrop, but that gap is starting to narrow.

One step closer to AirDrop


According to XDA, a new “Self Share” mode has been spotted in an upcoming version of Nearby Share. In the past, you only had three visibility options: invisible, visible to everyone, or visible only to your contacts. While that covers most of the scenarios in which you’d share content with other people, it doesn’t cover sharing files with other devices you own. To be more precise, you have to make sure the recipient device is within reach so that you can approve a file transfer.

In an upcoming update, there will be a new option that replaces “Hidden,” and it’ll be called “Your Devices.” In this mode, you will be able to see other devices that are logged into the same Google account and share files with them, all without having to wait for approval. This makes it easier to share files between your own devices and mirrors the way AirDrop works by utilizing the same Apple ID.

This is ultimately a small but important change that makes Nearby Share a more noteworthy equivalent to AirDrop. Of course, Nearby Share currently only works on Android and Chrome OS, while AirDrop is available across all of Apple’s platforms, plus some smart TVs, as well. Google will reportedly bring support for Nearby Share to Windows soon, but it should probably also bring it to its own Android TV platform.

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