Google appears to be working on a new and simple way to share files between a variety of devices, including Android and Chromebooks. We’ve managed to fully enable “Fast Share” on Android today, and here’s how it works.
Earlier this year, Google confirmed that Android Q would deprecate the NFC-based Android Beam sharing method introduced with 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in 2011.
Google is now working on an alternative named “Fast Share” that’s similar to Apple’s AirDrop on iOS and Mac. However, a more immediate comparison in terms of functionality and even interface is the standalone Files by Google app — previously Files Go.
Fast Share on Android can be used to share images and other files on your phone — as well as URLs and snippets of text — “to nearby devices without internet.” It’s available from the system share sheet with the feature currently using Google’s blue diamond-shaped Nearby icon. Alternately, the sharing process can be launched by heading to system Settings > Google > Fast Share.
Sending with Fast Share
The setup process is fairly simple: Just enter a “Device name” and tap “Turn on.” It requires Bluetooth and Location to be enabled, with physical proximity also factored in.
To get started, bring devices close together. Nearby devices will appear below.
Once you select a recipient from a grid of “nearby devices,” a fullscreen UI will note what is being shared and display a circular progress indicator. Google’s examples interestingly include Chromebooks, other Android devices, smartwatches, and even iPhones.
Receiving with Fast Share
When receiving a file on Android via Fast Share, you will get a notification to “Accept” or “Decline” with details like “Device name” and “connection ID.” There is also a fullscreen interface with the same controls. You can open the file right away once the transfer is complete.
On the safety and security front, Fast Share lets you give “Preferred Visibility” to people that are frequent senders. Settings for the feature are available in the top-right corner of the main sharing interface.
You can give people preferred visibility to make sharing faster. People with preferred visibility always see your device when you’re nearby, even if you’re not using Fast Share.
We enabled Fast Share on Android Q with a Pixel 3 XL, but it will likely work with previous versions of the mobile OS given that this is a Google Play services feature. It’s not yet clear when this new functionality will launch.
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