Android Beam will effectively cease to exist with the introduction of Android Q, according to comments reportedly made by developers on the firmware update at Google I/O 2019. For now, there also don’t appear to be any immediate plans to replace the NFC-based feature either.
That means users who are taking advantage of Android Beam via Android 9 Pie or earlier will need to move to a new method for transferring data and file in the next version of the world’s most popular mobile OS. Android Beam will persist in older handsets but any device that’s shipped with Android Q by default or that receives a firmware update to the new OS will need to switch to something else.
Blame improvements elsewhere in the OS?
The reason for the demise of Android Beam hasn’t been specified but likely comes down to how sparse its use has been over the years.
Android Beam has initially introduced Google’s Mobile OS back in 2011 with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. As implied by the description above, the feature in question is a file-sharing tool that relies on short-range NFC signals and is accessed in current Android versions via the standard “share” menu. After tapping the Android Beam option, two users essentially hold their devices back to back to transfer the data over.
The close proximity and the receiving party’s need to accept the transfer required can help bolster security in file sharing while the rapid rate of moving data and simplicity of the UI makes for an experience that’s often more convenient than others.
Those same aspects of the tool can, in equal measure, make things decidedly inconvenient.
That’s become more apparent as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth improved over time. Email — and Gmail, in particular — have become better tools for moving large amounts of data too — especially when taking into account improved integration and sharing via tools like Google Drive or Google Photos. With Google’s budget smartphone-friendly Files by Google application — formerly “Files Go” — files can be moved without using a data connection at all and without the need for those services.
A new Files application update arriving in Android Q could bring similar file sharing features too.
Limitations in terms of distance requirements, leading to the inability to continue using the participating smartphones during transfers are probable factors in Android Beam’s demise too. Users can keep browsing, playing their mobile game, making phone calls, and more while files are transferring or being sent when NFC isn’t used.
What else is new in Android Q?
Google officially announced a number of other big changes to Android Q’s ongoing beta program at the search giant’s I/O 2019 Developers Conference. That includes a dedicated, system-wide dark mode that’s easy to toggle on or off via the settings menu, a massive number of security improvements, and more gesture support as well as a return of the three button navigation.
AI is making a larger impact too, with the addition of AI suggested actions and the introduction of a more intuitive and conversational Google Assistant on Google’s own Pixel devices. The latter of those changes could take some time to finish before it’s rolled out later this year and will likely remain exclusive for some time afterward.
Optimizations and more widespread use of Digital Wellbeing tools are part of the package too, with parental controls being added to that menu via Family Link integration on top of that.
There’s still plenty of time for any of that to change in the meantime though since next-generation Android isn’t expected to be finalized and shipped until the third quarter of this year.