When I hang out with my friends who use an iPhone, they are always AirDropping left, right, and center. “One of the great things about having an iPhone,” they tell me, “is that you can AirDrop stuff.”
I was surprised recently, however, when a friend using Android said the exact same thing to me, when he wanted to send something. That’s when I realized that many Android phone users didn’t know they had an easily accessible AirDrop alternative at their fingertips.
I was in the same boat, until I discovered a way to easily send files between Android phones, and I think anyone using such a device should know about Nearby Sharing.
Meet Android Ben – no, wait…
Android phones had a feature called Android Beam, which used NFC to transfer files between devices.
To use it, you tried to share a file in the normal way, then held your phone in front of the one you were trying to share the file with.
It wasn’t exactly an alternative to AirDrop, as you have to rub the phones together like two dolls trying to get kissed. And even that was a little-known feature that most Android owners had never used.
But Google ditched Android Beam in 2020, for something much more practical.
Nearby Sharing works the same way as AirDrop – you can share files, photos and links with people nearby, as long as it’s another Android device (although apparently the Chromebooks will soon be supported as well).
This means you don’t have to scrub your phones or use a different app to send files. Easy!
I had never heard of Nearby Sharing – I assumed Android Beam was removed because people just use messaging, cloud storage, or messaging apps to send things, and I usually use WhatsApp to that sort of thing. But no, Nearby Sharing is there and it’s easy to use.
I was introduced to nearby sharing in a way that really impacted its use – someone whose contact details I don’t have wanted to send me something. Instead of having to give them my email address or phone number, they could just share them to me nearby. Very simple.
How to use Nearby Sharing
Using Nearby Share is pretty easy, although I have to admit, when I realized how important the button was, I felt stupid for missing it.
Using it is slightly different depending on which Android fork your phone is on, but typically you tap the “Share” button (you know, the one that looks like this:
Nearby handsets with the feature will appear and you can easily send the files to them.
Admittedly, it seems a bit slower than AirDrop, but since Android is used by so many more people than iOS, I’m just happy to have the ability to easily send files to so many people.