Google's Android answer to Apple AirDrop: Nearby Share beta aims for easy file sharing

Google wants to bring Nearby Share to platforms besides Android, suggesting possible support for Windows 10.

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Google has released a beta of its long-awaited Android answer to Apple's AirDrop for sending and sharing files wirelessly between devices. 

At the moment, the Android service dubbed Nearby Share, is in a limited trial for users who opt in to the Play Services beta

Apple's AirDrop allows users to share files between iOS and macOS devices if they're on the same Wi-Fi network or within Bluetooth range. 

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As per XDA Developers, Nearby Share allows files to be shared using mobile data, Wi-Fi only, or without the internet. Users need to setup Nearby Share so that the device is visible to all contacts, some contacts, or hidden. Nearby Share requires Bluetooth and Location to be turned on. 

Nearby Share differs from AirDrop in that Android users are offered a file for sharing via an app that supports it. For example, sharing a tweet would open up in recipient's Twitter app, while Photos would open in a photo app.  

That it's rolling out through Play Services means that Nearby Share should support most Android devices. 

Google told Android Police the feature is rolling out in a limited beta but said it should support all devices running Android 6 or newer. Google also hopes to support "other platforms". If that means support for Windows 10, Nearby Share would become a better rival to Apple's AirDrop.  

"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," Google said. 

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Google has been working on Nearby Share for some time, with details leaking at the beginning of the year, as CNET reported at the time. 

As that leak revealed, Nearby Share has a quick settings tile on devices that have it. Tapping it makes the device visible to others with the feature, so users can start sharing content.