Google's version of iPhone AirDrop is on Android phones now. Here's how to use it
So long, AirDrop envy. Android's Nearby Share feature transfers photos, videos and other files in a snap, and it's awesome.
Jason CiprianiContributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
For years -- years! -- iPhone owners have used AirDrop to quickly and easily share files, photos, videos and links with other nearby
. By using AirDrop, you don't have to fuss with texting a photo, compressing it and ruining its overall quality, or clog up your conversation thread with random links and files.
Google announced the new feature in early August, and I've been able to test it out on a Pixel 4 XL and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus. It works just like AirDrop, but you'll need to do a couple of things before you can start using it yourself. Here's what you need to know. You can follow step-by-step with the video below.
Which phones does Nearby Share work with right now?
As is typically the case with new Android features, Google is slowly rolling out Nearby Share, so it may take some time before it will show up on your phone.
You can check to see if the feature has been added to your device by following the instructions listed below. Google is adding Nearby Share to its own Pixel and
phones first, and the feature will eventually come to all phones running Android 6.0 and above.
Google has plans to turn on Nearby Share file transfers between Android and
, but for now, it's limited to sharing between Android phones and
How to set up Nearby Share on an Android phone or tablet
Before you'll see Nearby Share as a sharing option, you'll need to enable it. There isn't an update you need to install or anything you can do on your end at all. It will simply appear when it's added to your device.
On your phone, open the Settings app and select Google > Device connections > Nearby share.
If Nearby Share isn't listed as an option, you don't have the feature yet, and you'll need to sporadically keep checking.
The first time you open the Nearby Share page, you'll be asked to turn it on. Tap Turn On and then select one of three privacy options:
All Contacts: Any of your contacts with Nearby Share turned on will see your phone as an available device when your phone is on and unlocked.
Some Contacts: Only the contacts you've selected will be able to see your phone as an available Nearby Share device when your phone is on and unlocked.
Hidden: Your phone won't show up as an available device for anyone unless you have Nearby Share open. (If your phone detects someone around you is using Nearby Share, you'll see a notification asking if you want to open Nearby Share to make your device visible.)
Send or receive with Nearby Share
With Nearby Share turned on and set up, you can use it to send documents, photos, videos or links to people who are in the same room as you.
If you're sending a file, ask your friend to unlock their phone and leave the display turned on. If you're on the receiving end, you'll need to have your phone unlocked and the screen on.
With both phones actively in use, here's what you'll do to send using Nearby Share:
1. When you find something you want to share, such as a link in Chrome, you'll need to open the Share menu.
2. Find Nearby Share in the list of apps; tap it.
3. A small window will show up at the bottom of your screen, letting you know it's looking for a contact to share with. Once it finds your friend's device, tap on their profile icon.
4. The receiving device will display a prompt, letting them know who is trying to send them something, and what it is. Have them tap Accept, and whatever you're sending will be transferred from your phone to theirs, like magic.
If you run into issues with the transfer failing to complete, Google recommends turning Bluetooth off then back on, moving the devices within a foot of each other, or toggling airplane mode on and off.
When testing the feature, I also briefly saw a prompt that mentioned making sure to have the contact's Google email in your address book as a troubleshooting step.