In recent weeks, Android’s Nearby Share feature has been undergoing a series of enhancements with the aim of streamlining its functionality, drawing parallels with Apple’s AirDrop. A new update appears to be on the horizon, promising to facilitate the process of sending files to specific devices, or at least expedite it slightly.
The individual who spotted this potential modification is Mishaal Rahman, recognized for unveiling recent alterations to Nearby Share. It appears that Google might be integrating target devices directly into the share menu, situating them in the top row above other shareable applications. Instead of displaying every device nearby, it’s likely that this row will just show personal devices.
The conventional sharing menu on Android phones functions within a two-row system, with Nearby Share and apps located at the lower row, and recent contacts positioned at the upper row. Based on Rahman’s provided screenshot, it is evident that this is the menu that is poised for a Nearby Share revamp. The backdrop reveals the Google Photos sharing menu, which seems unaltered from its previous version.
Notably, if a dedicated sharing application is installed on a device, it might supersede the top row of the sharing menu. For instance, I have been utilizing Pushbullet for several years, a tool facilitating easy file and link sharing across my devices over the internet. This application entirely occupies the top row of my sharing menu, as depicted in the provided image.
From the visuals shared by Rahman, it is apparent that Nearby Share is adopting a similar approach — taking control of the top row and offering swift access to Nearby Share-compatible devices nearby. Meanwhile, the bottom row seems unaltered and retains the distinct Nearby Share button. This button likely remains in place for situations where file sharing is intended with devices not owned by the user.
While this alteration reduces the process by just a single step, it is reasonable to speculate that Android could develop the ability to identify frequently used devices, subsequently prioritizing them in the device list. In scenarios where extensive file sharing is undertaken, these marginal time savings could accumulate significantly over time.
Apple’s AirDrop also incorporates this functionality, even though it has eluded successful implementation on my personal devices. This implies that Google’s approach isn’t particularly groundbreaking. However, this development propels Nearby Share one step closer to becoming a bona fide alternative to AirDrop, rather than perpetually playing catch-up.
Admittedly, there is some ground to cover, as AirDrop outpaces Nearby Share, especially with the imminent launch of iOS 17. For instance, NameDrop empowers iPhone users to initiate sharing when their devices are brought into proximity, and AirDrop over the internet is slated for a release later this year.
The timeline for the rollout of this Nearby Share upgrade remains uncertain. Rahman emphasizes that no news has surfaced regarding its appearance on users’ devices. One can only hope for a swift implementation of this enhancement.