(Pocket-lint) - Google's Nearby Share is a way for Android users to quickly share content with each other between devices, similar to what Apple offers with AirDrop for iOS users.

The Nearby Share feature allows for easy and reliable sharing across thousands of Android phone models and it works online and offline.

Here's everything you need to know about Google's Nearby Share including how it works, what devices it works with and how to use it.

Google

How does Google Nearby Share work?

Google Nearby Share enables Android users to instantly share files, links, pictures and more with Android users nearby, while protecting your privacy. 

Rather than having to open individual apps, like Messages, WhatsApp or Gmail, find the file you want to share and attach it, Nearby Share lets you share content with just a couple of taps.

A list of devices will appear in your proximity when using the Nearby Share feature, which you can share content with. When you tap on the reciever, they will be notified with the option to accept or decline the file you are sharing.

Google's Nearby Share will then automatically choose the best protocol for fast and easy sharing using Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WebRTC or peer-to-peer WiFi. This means you can use Nearby Share even when you are completely offline.

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How do you use Nearby Share?

To use Nearby Share, you'll need to make sure the feature is turned on. It requires Android 6.0+ and you'll need to turn on both Bluetooth and Location on your Android device.

You'll then need to head into the Settings app on your Android device > Tap Google > Device Connections > Nearby Share > Turn On. To turn Nearby Share off, tap on Settings then turn off Nearby Share.

How to share a file/photo using Nearby Share

When you are ready to share a file, photo, webpage or whatever else you might want to share, open the file and tap on the share icon. You'll then need to select Nearby.

Hold your phone close to the device you want to share with and under the "Looking for nearby devices", tap on the contact and then tap Send. A message will appear saying "Sending", once "Sent" appears, you can tap close. 

How to recieve a file/photo using Nearby Share

When you want to recieve a file, photo or another piece of content from someone's phone, you'll need to ask them to use the steps above. 

When they hit send on the content they are sharing, you'll get a notification that someone is sharing content with you.

If you haven't already, to make your device visible, tap the notification. If you're prompted to turn on Nearby Share, Bluetooth, or Location, tap Turn on. To get the content, just tap Accept.

How to choose who to share content with

Google says Nearby Share was built with privacy at its core, allowing Android users to send and receive files without sharing contact information. Users can send and receive anonymously and you can adjust your privacy settings and who sees you in your phone's Quick Settings.

Open your phone's Settings app > Tap Google > Device connections > Nearby Share  > Device visibility.

It's possible to choose between "All Contacts", "Some Contacts" and "Hidden" when it comes to your visibility on Nearby Share. 

Selecting "All Contacts" will mean your device is visible to your contacts while your screen is on and unlocked. If you select "Some Contacts", you'll see a list of the contacts near you that have Nearby Share open and have chosen to be visible. You'll then need to toggle on the contacts in the list that you want to be able to see you when sharing a file.

In order for contacts to appear in the Nearby Sharing list, you'll need to have added their email address associated with their Google Account to their contact information.

If you select "Hidden", your device is only visible while Nearby Share is open.

What devices does Nearby Share work with?

Google's Nearby Share began rolling out to Android 6.0+ phones from 4 August 2020. Select Google Pixel and Samsung devices will be the first smartphones to receive Nearby Share but more devices will get the feature over the next few weeks.

The Nearby Share feature will also come to Chromebooks in the "coming months".

Problems with Nearby Share

If you're having problems with the Nearby Share feature, try the following: 

  • Check Bluetooth is turned on for both phones
  • Check Location is turned on for both phones
  • Bring the devices close together, within 300mm (1 foot) of each other
  • Turn Airplane mode on and off
  • Turn your phone off and back on
  • Wait until no one else is sharing content with the other phone
Writing by Britta O'Boyle.