It’s getting harder to tell the difference between iOS and Android. Sure, they have different “skins” if you will, but the feature set is mostly the same. Either way, you’ll get similar notification shades, night-mode photography, and even gesture-based keyboards. One advantage Apple still has is AirDrop, which is file sharing made easy. But that’s going to change thanks to an upcoming “Nearby Sharing” feature.
The fine folks at XDA-Developers have been digging around in Android again, and they’ve noticed some upcoming changes. Google has long promised easy file sharing but never quite stuck the landing. Entries like Android Beam never worked that great, and eventually faded away in favor of other endeavors.
But now the company is working hard on a new way to share files, and it looks easy to set up and easy to use—likely because it shares some of the same principles as AirDrop.
From what we can see in XDA’s demonstration video, you’ll start by choosing to share a file. Nearby Sharing will connect the two phones over Bluetooth. Once that Nearby Sharing establishes the connection, you can choose to share over mobile data (if it’s a small file), Wi-Fi, or “without internet,” which would presumably be Bluetooth. Wi-Fi would naturally be the fastest way to share a file.
To prevent random people from attempting connections, you can hide your phone from view. As an additional security measure, Nearby Sharing uses location services to ensure both phones are within a foot of each other.
What’s not clear yet is if this will be a Pixel only feature. While the demonstration did work with a OnePlus phone, the entire process was unofficial—if Google chooses, it can limit the feature to Pixels.
Depending on your phone maker of choice, that might not be a complete loss. After all, Samsung is hard at work to create its take on AirDrop as well.