There are technologies that, at first blush, seem to be the best thing since sliced bread. After years of use, or non-use rather, they turn out to be not so useful after all. One such thing is the NFC-based sharing system known as Android Beam, an almost forgotten feature that will no longer be part of Android Q’s release. While not a total loss, its removal sadly leaves Android handicapped in the short-range content sharing department.
You’d be forgiven if you forgot about Android Beam or didn’t even know it existed. It hailed from way back in 2011, during the time when NFC was envisioned to be the next best thing in wireless communication technologies. It turns out NFC is great for quick pairing with Bluetooth devices, short automated commands via tags, and even mobile payments, but not so much when tapping two phones back to back to share photos and whatnot.
That was exactly what Android Beam promised. First appearing on the Galaxy Nexus above, it envisioned a scenario where users will hold up their phones back to back and then tap on the screens to share and receive the usual stuff you share with people. It was quicker than transferring via some cloud service but also more cumbersome, especially considering how you have to precisely position the two devices together.
Android Beam seems to be absent in the latest Android Q betas and it reportedly will stay that way. After 8 years of silently exiting in phones, Android Beam is silently being removed from Android completely.
There will probably be no tears shed over its demise but it does bring up one of Android’s missing features. It still doesn’t have a quick and easy way for users to share files, photos, and other data with a nearby phone user ala Apple’s AirDrop. Android does have a Nearby platform but, like Beam, it is one of those rarely noticed features, unless it’s about sending Android users spam notifications.