Android’s AirDrop competitor demonstrated in new hands-on video

Android’s AirDrop competitor demonstrated in new hands-on video

A new hands-on video from XDA Developers has given us our best look yet at Android’s upcoming AirDrop-style sharing feature called Nearby Sharing. The video of the unannounced feature shows a number of photos and a video file being sent between a Pixel 2 XL and a Pixel 4, although XDA notes that the feature has also been seen working on a OnePlus device.

Despite how useful AirDrop is, so far, Android has struggled to find much success with its own alternative. Its NFC-based take on the feature was discontinued in Android 10, and although Google’s Files app includes similar functionality, it’s not quite the same as having it baked it at the OS level. There have been reports that Google is working on an AirDrop competitor for Android for a little while, but this is the first time we’ve had the chance to see it in action.

In the video, Nearby Sharing is shown built right into Android’s quick settings menu. It doesn’t seem to be in a finished state just yet — the video shows it failing at least once when trying to send a video file — but once the transfer starts, it’s a fairly quick transfer over Wi-Fi. The feature says that it’s designed to work best when the two devices are within one foot of each other, but there are also options to restrict your device’s visibility if you don’t want strangers to be able to send you files using the feature.

Google isn’t the only player in the Android ecosystem that’s thought to be working on an AirDrop competitor. Just this morning XDA-Developers reported that Samsung has a file-sharing standard of its own called Quick Share, and last year, a trio of China’s biggest smartphone manufacturers — Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo — announced that they were working on their own protocol.

The advantage Nearby Sharing has is that it should eventually be available on phones from every Android manufacturer, rather than being limited to just a small group of them, or even just one in the case of Samsung. There’s no word on when the feature might be officially released (or even announced), but given it’s already in a working state, it can’t be too far away.

Sara Lassiter

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