How to Use Nearby Share aka AirDrop for Android

Share photos, links, and more with nearby Android users

What to Know

  • Enable it by going to Settings > Google > Device Connections > Nearby Share > Toggle it on > tap Device Visibility > Select contacts.
  • Share by tapping Share > Nearby > bring the two phones close to each other > tap the phone name.
  • To receive photos, links, and more, the recipient needs to tap Accept when something is shared with them.

This article covers how to enable Nearby Share and how to send and receive images, links, and files with other Android users on devices that are compatible (some Android devices, Pixels, and Samsung devices).

How to Enable Nearby Share

Nearby Share allows you to instantly share photos, web pages, and files to other Android users. It is available on some Android phones and will be on more devices including Chromebooks in the future. It can use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or WebRTC, so it works whether you're online or offline.

Both the sender and the receiver must have Nearby Share enabled on their device. 

  1. Go to Settings > Google > Device Connections > Nearby Share.

    Steps to take to find folks to share files with in Android Nearby Share feature.
  2. Ensure the toggle at the top is turned to On.

  3. Tap Device Visibility.

  4. Select which contacts you want to be able to see you.

    In order to use Nearby Share, both parties need to be in each other's contacts. You can select to share with all contacts, select contacts, or make your device hidden. When your device is hidden, you can share with others, but they cannot share with you.

    Steps to take to turn on Nearby Share on Android.

How to Use Nearby Share

Once everything is set up and you're with a user who also has Nearby Share, it's pretty easy to swap data. In this example, we'll be using a web page, but this works for any kind of file, photo, or anything with a share button.

  1. Tap Share.

  2. Tap Nearby.

  3. Bring your phone and the recipient's phone within a few feet of each other.

  4. Tap the phone you want to send the file to.

    Steps to take to send a file via Nearby Share on Android.
  5. On the recipient's phone, tap Accept.

    Steps to take to receive a file via Nearby Share on Android.
  6. Back on your phone, you'll see that the file was sent and the share sheet will disappear. The file has been sent successfully!

On your recipient's device, the sent file will open in whatever app has been designated to open that type of file. In this case, it was in Google Chrome, the phone's default browser. Other files will be handled per Android's rules.

I Don't Have Nearby Share Yet. How Can I Get it?

Nearby Share is currently available for Pixel phones and Samsung Galaxy phones. Google will roll out the feature to other OEMs in the coming months. If you do not have one of those kinds of phones, but you want Nearby Share now, you can sign up for the Nearby Share beta program for Google Play Services.

The button to click to enter the testing program in Google Play.

Keep in mind, that using a beta service has its own difficulties and pitfalls. It's easy to get out of the program by visiting the same link and following the instructions on that page.

The button to click to leave the testing program in Google Play.

So Is Nearby Share Just Airdrop for Android?

Nearby Share is a lot like Apple's AirDrop, which lets you send files, photos, and URLs to other Apple devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The two services are very similar to each other but there are two main differences:

  • Nearby Share adds WebRTC to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as protocols it can use.
  • Users aren't limited to a single device maker. Right now Samsung users can share with Google Pixel users and the list will expand to other OEMs in the future. 
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