Google recently unveiled a new feature for Android devices called Nearby Sharing. The feature was initially available for a handful of devices, but Google has now started a wider rollout. Since the feature is built into Google Play services, users don’t even have to wait for an OTA update from the manufacturer or operator to get it. It also means that the majority of Android devices will have nearby sharing at some point.
What is nearby sharing?
Nearby Sharing is Google’s answer to Apple’s well-established AirDrop service, which allows users of iOS devices to quickly share data with other nearby Apple devices. This is great news because until now Android has lacked an easy and efficient way to share files between devices. The closest thing to Google was Android Beam, but this feature required actual physical contact between devices and was never as popular as AirDrop.
With the introduction of proximity sharing, Google is finally making sharing between Android devices seamless. If we’ve piqued your curiosity, why not give it a try yourself? The instructions are listed below.
Is your Android media shared nearby?
To use nearby sharing, you’ll need a phone running Android 6.0 or later. If you own a phone released after 2015, you should be good to go. However, if you want to be absolutely sure that this is the case, you can check your version of Android by going to “Settings -> About phone -> Android version”. Depending on your phone model, you may need to go to an alternate route, such as “Settings -> System -> About phone -> Android version”.
However, just because your phone is using the correct version of Android doesn’t necessarily mean you can use sharing nearby. At the moment, the feature is only available on certain Google, Samsung, LG, ASUS, Xiaomi and OnePlus phones. With the feature rollout still in progress, the best thing to do is to check for yourself whether your device has it or not.
Enable nearby sharing on your device
To enable proximity sharing on your phone, you need to open “Settings -> Google -> Device connections -> Nearby sharing”. If the functionality is not there, it means that you still have some time to wait before heading to your Android.
You can try to force update Google Play services in the hope of unlocking the feature in this way. Go to “Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> View all apps -> Google Play Services -> Advanced -> App Details.” From there, tap Update (if it’s available) or Install if you don’t have the service on your phone (but that’s unlikely).
If you see Nearby Sharing listed here, tap it and turn it on. In the same menu, you can change the name of your device and its visibility. Google designed this feature with privacy in mind, so it allows you to send or receive files anonymously. (Name the phone whatever you want.) You can also select which contacts (all, some, or none) will be able to see your device when you turn on nearby sharing.
The first option means that your phone will be visible to all your contacts (those you have saved in your phone’s address book) for which nearby sharing is also enabled. But there’s a caveat here – for this to actually work, you’ll need the email addresses of all of your contacts (those who are linked to their Google Accounts, to be more specific).
Moreover, in the nearby sharing settings, you also have the option to choose whether you want to send items using data, Wi-Fi only, or without internet (Bluetooth). Naturally, if you plan to send larger files, you should go for one of the last two options.
How to share content with someone
You can use nearby sharing to send items like photos, documents, links, and more. As we mentioned above, the person you’re sharing sharing with should also enable nearby sharing.
1. Open the content you want to share, such as a picture or video.
2. Tap “Share” and find the “Share nearby” option. (You may need to expand the Share option and search for it here.)
3. Your phone will start to search for nearby devices that it can share with.
4. Once one device (or more) becomes visible, tap the name of the device you want to share and wait a few seconds.
5. The other party should agree to your request, and once they do, the photo or video will be quickly transferred to their phone.
Note: the two devices will need to shut down relatively for nearby sharing to work properly. Both gadgets must also have Bluetooth and location services turned on.
Nearby sharing is extremely useful if you want to share files between two Android devices. But if you need to send large files from your Android phone to desktop or laptop instead, you can learn how to do it here.
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