Google’s AirDrop competitor has been in the works for a while now, with rumors suggesting that the feature, dubbed Nearby Share, could also support Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS. Now, the feature is finally making its way to some users in the form of a limited beta test. Google confirmed that the rollout is happening through Play Services beta in a comment to the folks over at AndroidPolice, who also managed to get a quick hands-on of the file-sharing tool.
"We’re currently conducting a beta test of a new Nearby Share feature that we plan to share more information on in the future. Our goal is to launch the feature with support for Android 6+ devices as well as other platforms."
Nearby Share lets users share images, files, and links with other Android users wirelessly, and just like any other share target in the OS’ share sheet, it shows up as a separate app. However, the way the listing is displayed on the share sheet may vary with the kind of content being shared and the device it is being used on. When users select the app for the first time, it serves a one-time setup prompting for the device’s name, visibility preferences, and a ‘Turn on’ button to enable the feature.
Once enabled, the app starts looking for nearby devices for sharing the selected content. Users can also quickly jump into the app’s settings by tapping on the avatar in the right corner of the share UI. The settings page lets users change visibility options (All Contacts, Some Contacts, Hidden), the preferred way of transferring data (using mobile data, Wi-Fi, or offline), and more.
On the other end, recipients receive a prompt informing them of a file transfer, which they can accept or decline. This means that users can avoid receiving files or content from unintended senders. The addition of a Nearby Share feature has been long-awaited, especially after the deprecation of Android Beam. However, other OEMs like Samsung have built a solution of their own.
Not everyone that has opted-in to the Play Services testing program will receive this feature since it reportedly requires a server-side switch. However, considering that the company has publicly acknowledged the existence of such a test, it should not be long before it is made available to more users unless any major issues arise.