Since last year, it’s been rumored that Google is working on something that would replace Android Beam — the Bluetooth and NFC based file sharing system that was later discontinued with the release of Android 10.
Now, we finally got the chance to see the new Nearby Sharing feature in action thanks to the folks at XDA Developers. As expected, there’s nothing really new to see here aside that it works almost exactly like AirDrop — but for Android. This new feature is rumored to come in the upcoming Android 11 operating system.
Nearby Sharing works with the phone’s Location and Bluetooth feature to connect Android devices with each other. After that, the file transfer will be completed with the use of Wi-Fi. This makes for an extremely fast data sharing across devices.
Similar to AirDrop, the phone owner can switch the receiving function to Everyone or Contacts only. Once it’s installed, a new Quick Settings tile will be available in order to toggle the feature on and off.
There are three options in transferring files using Nearby Sharing. The most common way is by using Wi-Fi only, which is fast and free to use. Android users may also use Data, although it will probably incur unecessary charges especially if there’s Wi-Fi available. Lastly, there’s Without Internet. This means that the files/data will be transferred offline, although it’s still unclear if it’s going to use Bluetooth or some kind of new protocol.
Like AirDrop, both phones should enable the Nearby Sharing feature before it can work. Afterwards, users just need to select or highlight the files they want to transfer and click on the “Share Nearby” icon. Once it’s ready to be on its way, the recipient must approve the transaction before it proceeds to the actual transfer.
In the video above, the Nearby Sharing feature was tested across different brands as they were able to complete transfers between the OnePlus 7T Pro, Pixel 2 XL, and Pixel 4.
While Nearby Sharing is indeed the much-awaited AirDrop for Android, we can’t be too excited just yet because we still don’t know iif it’s going to make its way officially in Android 11.