Android’s AirDrop, Nearby Sharing, shows signs of debuting on Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS

Android’s AirDrop, Nearby Sharing, shows signs of debuting on Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS

For some time now, we’ve been tracking Nearby Sharing as Android’s answer to AirDrop on iOS, allowing you to, as the name suggests, share things to devices that are nearby. Now we’re finding that Google’s ambitions for Nearby Sharing are far greater, with the feature getting close to arriving on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS.

The way we knew it before, Nearby Sharing, sometimes still referred to by Google as “Fast Share,” was meant to be a way for Android phones to be able to share links, photos, and more with other Androids, just as AirDrop allows you to easily share things between iOS devices.

However, we may have underestimated Google’s ambitions for Nearby Sharing. As noted by Dinsan of Chrome Story, Google has brought Nearby Sharing to Chrome OS, with the feature beginning to appear in the Chrome OS Settings app, as of the latest builds of Chrome OS Canary. Of course, like most other work-in-progress Chrome features, it needs to be enabled with a flag in chrome://flags.

Nearby Sharing

Enables Nearby Sharing for sharing content between devices. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS


Nearby Sharing shows up in #chromebook settings

— Dinsan (@_dinsan) June 19, 2020

Sadly, once both the flag and the toggle in the Settings app are enabled, the feature doesn’t seem to do anything, pointing to it still being a work in progress. More importantly, however, the flag’s description clearly points to Nearby Sharing also coming to the Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of Chrome. Digging into the code, we find a pretty clear reference to Android’s Nearby Sharing being the same as the Nearby Sharing that is coming to Chrome.

Enables Nearby Sharing functionality. Android already has a native implementation.

Until it properly arrives, it’s hard to say exactly what Chrome’s version of Nearby Sharing will be able to share and how it will work to receive something shared. From what we’ve seen on Android, for example, you may see a notification offering to receive something being shared.

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