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Home / Tips and Tricks / Google’s version of the iPhone AirDrop is rolling out to Android phones now. How to use the new feature

Google’s version of the iPhone AirDrop is rolling out to Android phones now. How to use the new feature


Sharing nearby is quick and easy, just make sure you set it up first.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

For years – years! – iPhone owners have used AirDrop to quickly and easily share files, photos, videos and links with other iPhones nearby ($ 699 at Apple). By using AirDrop, you do not have to bother sending a photo, compressing it and destroying its overall quality, or clogging up your conversation thread with random links and files.

Now Android phones finally get Google’s version of AirDrop, called nearby.

Google announced the new feature in early August, and I was able to test it on one Pixel 4 XL and Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus. It works just like AirDrop, but you have to do a few things before you can start using it yourself. Here’s what you need to know.


Google’s Pixel phones are one of the first to get Near Sharing.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Which phones are working nearby sharing right now?

As is usually the case with new Android features, Google is slowly rolling out Share nearby, so it may take some time before it shows up on your phone.

You can check if the feature has been added to your device by following the instructions below. Google will first add Share Share to its own Pixel and Samsung phones, and the feature will eventually come to all phones running Android 6.0 and later.

Google has planned to enable file transfers near Share between Android and Chrome OS, but at the moment it is limited to sharing between Android phones and tablets.


If Share Share emerges as an alternative, congratulations! If not here’s a new product just for you!

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

How to set up Near Sharing on an Android phone or tablet

Before you see Near Sharing as a sharing option, you must enable it. There is no update you need to install or anything you can do in the end. It will simply appear when added to your device.

Open the Settings app on your phone and select Google > device Connections > Nearby division.

If Close sharing is not listed as an option, you do not have the feature yet, and you must sporadically continue to check.

proximity sharing-device-Visibility

You care about complete control over your privacy.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

The first time you open the Share Nearby page, you will be prompted to turn it on. Tap Putting on and then select one of three privacy options:

  • All contacts: One of your Contacts with Close Sharing enabled sees your phone as an available device when your phone is on and unlocked.
  • Some contacts: Only the contacts you have selected can see your phone as an available device nearby when your phone is on and unlocked.
  • Hidden: The phone does not appear as an available device for anyone if you do not have Share nearby open. (If your phone detects that someone around you is using Near Sharing, a message will appear asking if you want to open Near Sharing to make your device visible.)

Send or receive with Share Nearby

With nearby sharing enabled and configured, you can use it to send documents, photos, videos, or links to people in the same room as you.

If you are sending a file, ask your friend to unlock their phone and leave the screen on. If you are about to receive, you must have your phone unlocked and the screen on.

share proximity-share

If you’ve ever sent a photo in a text message, you’re already a pro at using Close Sharing.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Here’s what you do to send with both phones actively in use: Share nearby:

1st When you find something you want to share, such as a link in Chrome, you need to open it Share menu.

2nd Find Close sharing in the list of apps; tap it.

3rd A small window will appear at the bottom of the screen and let you know that it is looking for a contact to share. Once it’s found your friend’s device, click on their profile icon.

4th The receiving device will display an instant message and let them know who is trying to send them something and what it is. Let them knock Accept, and what you send will be transferred from your phone to theirs, like magic.

If you encounter problems with the uncompleted transmission, Google recommends turning off Bluetooth and then turning it on again, moving the devices within one foot of each other, or turning the flight mode on and off.

When I tested the feature, I also briefly saw an issue that mentioned making sure to have the contact’s Google email in your address book as a troubleshooting step.

Take a few more minutes when you have mastered nearby sharing learn all the Android 10’s navigation gestures. Or if you’d rather see what’s coming with Android 11, we’ve got it some features we love. If you have a compatible phone, you can do so install Android 11 right now.

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