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Watch Google's upcoming AirDrop-style file sharing in action

Igor Bonifacic
Contributing Writer
Engadget

It's been a while since we've heard anything about Fast Share, Google's upcoming take on AirDrop. But based on a new hands-on video, it looks like you may soon be able to check out the file-sharing feature on your Android phone. Now known as Nearby Sharing, XDA-Developers was able to get the in-development tool working to send photos and videos between a Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 4.

The good news is that it looks like Nearby Sharing solves a lot of the usability quirks that stopped Android Beam from becoming more popular. To start, Android now completes the initial handshake between two devices through Bluetooth rather than NFC. As a result, you don't have to put two phones right up next to one another to start the sharing process. Instead, it looks like you have about a foot of range to work with. Using the feature also looks more straightforward. You can enable Nearby Sharing from Android's quick settings menu. Afterwards, sharing a file is simply a matter of accessing the share sheet, which you can pull up in most apps by tapping the three dots icon.

Notably, it also likes you will have a couple of options when it comes to setting up how the feature works. For instance, there are visibility options that allow you to restrict who can send you a file. Additionally, there's a setting to allow your phone to use data to assist with the process.

We could soon see a variety of Android phone makers each release their own take on AirDrop. Earlier today, XDA published a report that showed Samsung is working on a feature called Quick Share. Last year, a trio of Chinese phone manufacturers announced they were working on their own file-sharing protocol. However, the benefit of Google's approach is that it would work with any Android phone, instead of a specific make of phone. It's not clear when Google will release Nearby Sharing, but there's a good chance we'll learn about it at the company's upcoming I/O developer conference, which starts on May 12th.