For years Android users have looked at the super-simple AirDrop file and link sharing between iOS, macOS, and their various components with envy. We’ve known about Google’s upcoming answer to this service, Nearby Sharing, for a while, but there’s some good news about it this week. A Twitter user spotted “Nearby Share” settings in the latest developer build of ChromeOS.
— Dinsan (@_dinsan) June 19, 2020
The setting appears once a flag in chrome://flags (a semi-hidden settings tool) is flipped. Unfortunately it looks like it isn’t actually doing anything at the moment. But inclusion in ChromeOS indicates that the feature will allow Android devices to share directly to ChromeOS laptops and tablets, and perhaps anything running the full version of the Chrome browser. That’s hundreds of millions (maybe over a billion at this point) desktops, laptops, full-power tablets, et cetera.
Nearby Share would allow near-instant sharing of files, text, links, and other small bits of data over local networks, possibly extending to mobile connections if the devices can tell they’re in the same vicinity. It’s similar to low-friction AirDrop transfers between iOS and Mac users, which have set the standard for convenience.
Nearby Share is expected to arrive in the final version of Android 11, which should debut with the latest Pixel phones around the start of the fourth quarter of the year. Naturally, this is all unconfirmed by Google—it wouldn’t be the first time that an Android or Chrome feature clearly in development was a no-show.