Google has been working on an AirDrop killer for quite some time. And we expected it to roll out with Android 11. It was not available in any of the previews or the first beta. But today, Google confirmed Nearby Sharing and also started rolling it out to some beta users – not everyone, just yet.
The good news here is that Google is not planning on making it an Android 11 feature only. It is planning to roll it out to Android 6.0 and later, as well as available on other platforms. Which we've seen evidence of already. It looks like it'll work with anything that is running Chrome – so macOS, Windows, Chrome OS and Linux.
How does nearby sharing work?
It's surprisingly simple, even for Google.
Nearby Sharing is going to be located in the share sheet. It'll show up as a button next to the "copy" option. Just tap on "Nearby" and it'll allow you to share it with whoever is nearby.
Google does offer some visibility settings, so you are able to decide how people see your device, and who can see it. Instead of just anyone with an Android device near you getting this, you can set it to only people in your contacts list. That's a smart thing on Google's behalf. You can also set it to some contacts or hidden ones. Making it a smaller group of users. Remember that they do need to be relatively close to get it.
The person on the other end, will get a pop up on their screen that shows them the name of the file being shared (or a link if it was a link), as well as who is sharing it. You can tap on "Accept" or "Decline" of course. And if you click Accept, the file will be sent to your device instantly.
How do I get into the beta for Google Nearby Sharing?
You will need to opt into the beta for Google Play Services.
However, there is a server-side component too, so just opting in won't get you into the beta for Nearby Sharing. Right now, the beta seems to be super limited, but Google will likely open it up a bit more in a few weeks. It's still pretty early for Nearby Sharing, so Google is likely looking to workout most of the bugs first.
This isn't an Android 11 feature, so the final release may not line up with the Android 11 final release. This could be in beta for quite some time.