As we head into Google IO 2022, Android 13 has seen a public beta, and it includes hints at Google’s own take on Handoff, a feature that first appeared on Apple devices.
Handoff lets you continue using the same app when switching between different Apple devices. It can be Safari, a music track, or a podcast, as long as you’re signed in with the same Apple ID account. But Continuity lets you continue using a feature on another Apple device, like taking a photo and viewing it on your Mac.
While Google lets you sync your bookmarks and purchases when you sign into Android or ChromeOS, the same can’t be said when you’re browsing a webpage, or halfway through listening to a Spice Girls track or looking at The Batman again.
There are hints of it already being called Tap to Transfer in the Android 13 public beta, but there’s no confirmation from Google yet. With that in mind, that’s why Handoff is set to be one of the flagship features of Android 13, with the possibility of expansion to other Google devices.
Pass your hand, pass your hand
I’ve been an Apple user since I bought a third generation iPod in 2004. I replaced my PC with an early Intel iMac model and imported the first iPhone in 2007.
Throughout this, I’ve always appreciated the features that let me manage my content across devices, without having to go through the old-school method of emailing it to me.
Along with Continuity and Hand Off, these features allow me to transfer my workflow from my iPhone 13 Pro to my 14-inch MacBook Pro without issue.
But there are users who only own Google devices – whether it’s owning both a Pixelbook and a Pixel 6, or a Google Nest and a Fitbit. But managing and sending your data and content between these devices isn’t currently as easy as Apple’s method, and in 2022, that’s no good.
Android 13 looks set to include a feature that alleviates some of these issues, tentatively called “TTT” or Tap to Transfer.
Since an initial release in January, you can send media you watch or listen to on an Android 13 device to a device that might be nearby.
But it should be much more. Being able to transfer your music from your Pixel 6 to a Chrome web browser should be easier, in addition to being able to continue listening to a track in Google Play Music that’s on your OnePlus 10 Pro, on a Pixelbook.
It’s time for Google to realize that usability of devices matters. While its recent efforts with Material You, the redesigned themes for Android have been warmly received, there’s still work to be done.
As more products appear (and more are apparently on the way, one of which is rumored to be the Pixel Watch), seeing more cohesion between the devices will be more important than never. Having more control over your content on the devices you own will be appealing to many, and it looks like Android 13 is the first sign that Google is aware of it.
The question now is whether the same functionality will not only appear on the rest of its product line, but whether the functionality is better than what Apple has taken in recent years.