Nearby Sharing? A sneak peek at Google’s AirDrop clone

Google is working on a local, wireless file sharing solution like Apple’s AirDrop.

Mishaal Rahman was demonstrating “Nearby Sharing”. (Photo: XDA TV)

XDA Developer’s Mishaal Rahman demonstrated a dormant file-sharing system called “Nearby Sharing” on Android phones. Rahman was able to rig a few devices to enable the service. The feature seems to be inactive in versions of Google Play Services. That means that the feature would be available to all Android devices with Google Play Services (no luck for Chinese manufacturers).

In their tests, the “Nearby Sharing” option works like sending a regular file. You’d have to click the Android share button, select “Nearby Sharing”. The recipient device must have the feature turned on. Next, there is a notification on the recipient device showing the incoming file. The sender and receiver then confirm the transfer, and the process begins.

Android Beam was finicky and slow. (Photo: Digital Trends)

Happily, “Nearby Sharing” uses Bluetooth to initiate the connections but sends files via Wi-Fi which is much faster than Bluetooth alone. The feature seems fast, as well. Mishaal Rahman later wrote that he transferred a 3.5 GB file from a Pixel 4 to another Pixel device in 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

Nearby Sharing seems to work like Apple’s file transfer system.

Apple’s AirDrop is a delightful file-sharing feature. (Photo: Apple)

AirDrop is an excellent file sharing system that’s been on Apple’s products for years. It allows users to transfer data to any AirDrop equipped Apple product wirelessly. The feature is quick, convenient and facilitates seamless data transfer between Apple gadgets.

It’s splendid to know that Google may finally implement a similar feature. Android users were stuck with the finicky Android Beam technology. Android Beam used NFC to initiate connections over Bluetooth. Sending files with Android Beam was slow and annoying at times. The annoyance was because you had to figure out exactly where the NFC chips in the phones were to align them correctly.

“Happily, “Nearby Sharing” uses Bluetooth to initiate the connections but sends files via Wi-Fi which is much faster than Bluetooth alone.”

Then you had to click a pop up on the recipient phone (if you could touch the pop up in a short space of time). Next, you had to wait for the file to transfer via Bluetooth. These drawbacks may have forced users to use other methods. Consequently, the feature was underutilised to the point where Google removed the function from the Android 10 build. Sure, there are third-party Android options, but those require a download on both sender and recipient devices.

The demo shows unreleased software. And though the Mishaal Rahman was able to get the feature working on a few devices, it doesn’t mean Google WILL release the feature. Hopefully, they do because Android needs a proper, AirDrop clone.

Check out the demo of Nearby Sharing by XDA Developers.