Nearby Share

Google’s Nearby Share now rolling out

Nearby Share picks the best possible wireless protocol itself, depending on the sort of file you’re transferring.

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Google is rolling out Nearby Share from today, finally giving Android users its own version of Apple’s AirDrop. Compatible with Android 6.0+ devices, Nearby Share promises much smoother file, link, and content exchanges between phones and tablets, as long as the two devices are in fairly close proximity.

Nearby Share picks the best possible wireless protocol itself, depending on the sort of file you’re transferring. That might be Bluetooth or Bluetooth Low Energy, or it could be WebRTC, NFC, or peer-to-peer WiFi. It’ll all be transparent to the users involved, though. All they’ll need to do is open up the Android share sheet menu and they’ll see Nearby Share compatible devices around them.

There are safeguards in place, so that people can’t just drop random files onto your phone without you wanting them to. Nearby Share supports different visibility settings, for example, so that you can choose to be visible to all contacts, some contacts, or hidden if you prefer. Files sent and received can be transmitted anonymously.

Devices need to be around 1 foot (30 cm) of each other in order to be visible. They’ll also need Bluetooth and Location turned on, though no data network – either WiFi or cellular – is required.

When someone tries to share with you, you’ll get a notification that new content is waiting to be transferred. If you’ve not made your device visible, tapping the notification will allow that to be enabled. The phone might also request that Nearby Share – or Bluetooth, or Location – be enabled, too. Finally, tapping “Accept” will allow the transfer to begin.

Google says that it’ll be select Google Pixel and Samsung phones which get Nearby Share support first, with that rolling out from today. Devices from other manufacturers will follow on in due course.

How to use Nearby Share

You can use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or NFC to share content with other devices near yours. You can share things like photos, videos, documents, and links.

Turn sharing on or off

  1. On your phone, make sure Bluetooth and Location are turned on.
  2. Open your Settings app.
  3. Tap Google > Device connections > Nearby Share Turn on.
  4. To turn off Nearby Share, tap Settings. Then turn off Nearby Share.

Share content with someone

  1. Open the content, like a photo or webpage.
  2. Tap Share  > Nearby Share. (You may need to tap Turn on.)
  3. Hold your phone and your friend’s device close to each other.
  4. Under “Looking for nearby devices,” tap a device.
  5. Tap Send.
  6. You’ll get a message that says “Sending.” When you get the “Sent” message, tap Close.

Get content from someone

  1. Ask your friend to use the “Share content with someone” steps above.
  2. You’ll get a notification that someone is sharing content with you. 
    • If you haven’t already, to make your device visible, tap the notification. 
    • If you’re prompted to turn on Nearby Share, Bluetooth, or Location, tap Turn on.
  3. To get the content, tap Accept.

Choose who can share content with you

  1. Open your phone’s Settings app.
  2. Tap Google > Device connections > Nearby Share > Device visibility.
  3. Choose your options: 
    • All contacts: Your device is visible to your contacts while your screen is on and unlocked.
    • Some contacts: Your device is visible to nearby contacts you choose while your screen is on and unlocked.
    • Hidden: Your device is only visible while Nearby Share is open.

Problems sharing content?

If you try to share content with someone, but it doesn’t work, try these steps:

  • On both phones, check if Bluetooth is turned on.
  • On both phones, check if Location is turned on. 
  • Bring the devices close together, within 1 foot (30 cm) of each other.
  • Turn Airplane mode on, and then off.
  • Turn your phone off, then back on.
  • Wait until no one else is sharing content with the other phone.

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