Android’s answer to AirDrop, Nearby Share, is available now

by Mark Ritter
  • Google is finally rolling out Nearby Share, its response to Apple’s AirDrop file sharing.
  • Android 6.0 and later users can easily share files and links with local phones.
  • It will support sharing with Chromebooks in the months ahead.

You no longer have to be a tester to send files using Android’s Nearby Share. Google has started rolling out the feature to phones using Android 6.0 and later, making it easier to send files to friends (from a safe distance, of course) without leaning on cloud services or special transfer modes.

Once you’ve turned it on, it behaves much like Apple’s AirDrop. You just have to tap a Nearby button in the standard Android share sheet to find a device in range and send files or links. If you’re the recipient, you’ll get a pop-up on your phone with options to accept or decline the transfer.

The system automatically picks whatever protocol should work best for the transfer, whether it’s Bluetooth, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, or WebRTC. You won’t need an internet connection to send material, in other words.

Much like AirDrop, there are privacy safeguards to prevent strangers from trying to share malware or other unwanted content. You can be hidden or visible to only some of your contacts, and toggles will let you quickly enable or disable Nearby Share for specific people.

The feature is initially available to “select” Google Pixel and Samsung phones, but it should come to more devices in the weeks ahead.

You’ll soon have the option to exchange files with Chromebooks, too. An improvement in the “coming months” will offer Nearby Share between Android and Chrome OS devices akin to AirDrop exchanges between iPhones and Macs. Google didn’t outline compatibility, but this could be very helpful if you want to use a Chromebook’s larger screen to edit a photo or finish reading an article.

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