How Google Helps You Share Apps With Friends

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Key Takeaways

  • Nearby Share’s latest update will allow you to share apps and update data with others.
  • When near other Android phones, you’ll be able to easily share apps similar to how you share contacts and other files.
  • Experts believe Nearby Share will help usher in a new age of content sharing for Android users, making it easier than ever to get updates and download apps from friends.
A screenshot of Google Nearby Sharing.

Google Nearby Share’s newest feature will completely change how users share apps and data on Android, experts say.

Sharing contacts on Android used to require you to go through a number of different steps, and the idea of sharing apps was no different, often requiring third-party systems to do so. With Nearby Share, users were finally able to seamlessly share content with other Android devices close to them using wireless Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Now, after over a year of development, Google finally has added the ability to share apps and updates between devices.

"The new share feature in Google Play enables Google to do three things—the first is to streamline and control an existing behavior," Philip Wride, CEO at Cheesecake Digital told Lifewire via email. 

"ShareIT has grown to having nearly 2 billion users because of the ability to share application installs and content through their app. One of the most shared categories in ShareIT is mobile games, so adding this feature to Google Play enables Google to take back some control."

Offline Sharing

One of the biggest perks to being able to make use of tools like Nearby Share is the ability to share content offline and online. Now that Nearby Share supports sharing application data and updates, more users will be able to get access to the content that they want or need without having to worry about how fast their data plan is.

Previously the only way to share apps was to send a link to the Play Store, which still required the other person to download it themselves.

"It [Nearby Share] may lead to less browsing of Google Play to find new games, with users instead relying on their friends sharing apps with them."

As the world—and the various services we utilize daily—moves to being more online, users are having to rely on the strength of their phone’s data plan, or their internet access at home.

The unfortunate truth is, not everyone has access to high-speed broadband, or even fast cellular service, depending on where they live. As such, offering a feature that can utilize Bluetooth to share data between two devices is a welcome advancement for Android users.

This update also serves as a two-fold push for Google, allowing them to take back control of app sharing—which third-party groups like ShareIT have gained during the feature’s absence.

Two people holding smartphones close together.
Ivan-balvan / Getty Images

"This leads to the analytics and understanding of customer behavior," Wride said, explaining the reasons for why Google would want to take back control of app sharing.

"They [Google] should be able to see what games are being shared and by whom, which will make for improved targeting on adverts, messaging and other services."

With ShareIT boasting over 500 million monthly active users, it makes sense for Google to want to offer a similar feature directly in the Android ecosystem. Not only does it remove the chance of possible security risks that can come with third-party applications, but it’s also a feature that users have been waiting to get official support for.

App sharing also will let Google keep up with how well an app is being shared, which could lead to further implications on how apps rank in the Google Play Store down the line.

Growing Implications

Google’s introduction of app and update sharing will do more than just pad the amount of information that Google has about apps, though. It could completely change how we share apps, Wride says.

"It [Nearby Share] may lead to less browsing of Google Play to find new games, with users instead relying on their friends sharing apps with them," Wride wrote.

"The biggest impact may be for new game launches, which aren’t able to gain visibility and traction unless their game is shared by players."

"This leads to the analytics and understanding of customer behaviour. They [Google] should be able to see what games are being shared and by whom..."

One interesting thing that experts are interested in seeing is how this new feature affects Google’s download records. 

"Previously, one factor that supported download and adoption by users was being able to see the number of downloads an app or game had received and then the star rating," Wride wrote. "If game apps are now shared instead of downloaded, the efficacy of that social proof on the Play Store is reduced."

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