Android may have already passed its first decade in the market but there are still some areas where it seems to need to catch up. It’s not for the lack of trying, though, and is sometimes due to Google constantly pulling the plug and changing things over and over again. One of those is the simple ability to easily share images or files with others, akin to Apple’s long-established AirDrop feature. Android’s new Nearby Share might finally be that framework and, at least based on new features being tested, it might also finally be catching up as well.
To be fair, there are some cases where Android is far better at sharing files than iOS, partly thanks to a more open Bluetooth implementation and third-party solutions. Unfortunately, that also means that users have to rely on non-standard and non-uniform solutions that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and app to app. Having a universal even if basic Nearby Share implementation still goes a long way in making the platform more user-friendly by covering the most common use cases.
Fortunately, Google isn’t stopping at the basics and is apparently working on expanding the feature. XDA discovered a future Nearby Share feature that would allow Android users to share with anyone, even strangers, who has Nearby Share enabled, is visible to everyone else, and have their phones unlocked. This makes it more convenient to share files in a group or meeting without having to add each person first to their address book.
This is similar to one of AirDrop’s somewhat controversial features but Google adds the convenience of automatically switching back to “Contacts Only” after five minutes to prevent abuse of the feature. It’s an optional switch but one that’s recommended to be enabled in case you forget to turn it off.
At the moment, however, Nearby Share’s support for sharing with multiple people is still in heavy development. The site reports that it’s still not possible to actually send to multiple people at the same time and have to send it one by one anyway. Still, it’s a good start but hopefully, Google won’t decide to deprecate Nearby Share after a year or two.