Android’s Alternative to Apple’s AirDrop Is Called ‘Nearby Sharing’ and It’s Rolling Out Today

Gif: Google
Gif: Google

With the launch of Android 10, Google quietly removed Android’s previous local file sharing feature when it dropped support for Android Beam. But starting today, Google is finally ready to release Android Beam’s replacement: Nearby Sharing.

Similar to Apple’s AirDrop, Nearby Sharing allows Android devices to quickly share things like files and photos without needing to resort to dedicated apps like Google Drive or messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Scheduled to arrive on all Android devices running Android 6.0 and above, Nearby Sharing allows you to pick a device in your vicinity (which the user of the device can accept or decline), and then send files wirelessly while Nearby Share automatically selects the best protocol for transferring the data, with Nearby Sharing including support for Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WebRTC, or even direct peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. This means even if you don’t have access to a cellular connection or a local Wi-Fi network, Nearby Share will still be able to figure out a way to send your file.

Now obviously, the idea of strangers sending you random files is not ideal (even if you do have the option to decline), so to help protect your privacy and make sure you won’t get bombarded by Nearby Sharing requests, Google allows you to choose between being “hidden,” visible to “some contacts,” or visible to “all contacts,” which can be quickly adjusted via options in Android’s Quick Settings menu.

Furthermore, Nearby Sharing was designed to allow you to send and receive files anonymously, so if you want to share a photo without revealing personal info like a phone number or email address, that’s an option too.

Photo: Google

Following the release of Nearby Sharing on Android devices, Google says that in the coming months it’s planning to bring Nearby Share to Chromebooks, giving Chromebook users the same set of file sharing features as Android users.

Google says Nearby Share will start rolling out today, with select Pixel and Samsung devices being first in line to get the new Android feature before Nearby Share gets pushed to a wider range of Android devices over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, with Android 11 expected to be officially released sometime in the next month or two, Android fans should have even more features and updates to look forward to real soon.