Sharing files between one Android device and another could get a whole lot easier soon. Google has been developing a feature called Nearby Sharing that lets you wirelessly send and receive files on Android devices from the Share menu.
Android Police got an early look at the experience, which is now rolling out to some users as a beta test. Since the feature is made possible through a Google Play Services update though, it could be available for far more devices in the future… even if your phone maker has a lousy track record with delivering Android OS updates.
It’s basically Google’s answer to Apple’s AirDrop.
In a nutshell, here’s how Nearby Sharing will work. Find an item you want to share, hit the share icon, and a Nearby Share icon will show up in the same share menu where you see other apps (like Gmail, Google Drive, or your default text messaging app).
The first time you opt to share something this way, you’ll be prompted to enable the feature in your phone’s settings. Then your device will look for other supported Android devices that are physically nearby. If a compatible device is detected, it’ll show up in the sharing menu.
You can restrict your sharing targets to some or all of the people in your contact list. Or if you want to send content to a device for someone who’s not already in your contact list, they can pull down their Quick Settings menu and tap a button to make their device temporarily visible.
In addition to sharing files including documents, photos, or videos, you can use Nearby Sharing with Tweets, URLs, text, or just about anything else that can be shared through the Android Share menu.
There’s no word on when Nearby Sharing will graduate from beta and be available to everyone. But Android Police says Google has confirmed that it’s actively rolling out the feature through a Google Play Services beta.
For now, I guess you can keep sharing files through email, Google Drive, or other apps that require taking a few extra steps.