WhatsApp on Android could soon let you share files with nearby friends

a person holding a phone with the WhatsApp logo on it
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp may receive its own version of Apple’s AirDrop as a recent Android beta shows hints that a file-sharing feature is in the works.

A post on WABetaInfo offers insight into the potential update. Like AirDrop, the feature only works between two people. Both users will need to have the software open to the tool and be “within close proximity” to exchange files. What’s particularly interesting about this file sharing is the receiving person will need to physically shake their smartphone to create a share request. 

WABetaInfo explains this is to maintain a “controlled approach to file exchanges” between contacts. It's similar to how AirDrop lets people configure its settings so they only receive content from trusted sources. However, the website claims it will be possible to share media with non-contacts on WhatsApp. Phone numbers will remain hidden in this situation to preserve anonymity.

And just like sending messaging on WhatsApp, file sharing is end-to-end encrypted according to the website, ensuring personal information and content being sent is protected from outside interference. 

Pending information

That’s pretty much all that is known about WhatsApp’s file-sharing feature. A lot of the finer details have yet to be revealed. 

It’s unknown exactly how sending media to non-contacts will work. Will all receiving users have to shake their device too or will Meta change its mind and throw out that step replacing it with a simple menu setting? Going back to AirDrop, Apple’s version lets you change the receiving setting to Everyone allowing non-contacts to accept content from you.

Additionally, we don’t know if there are any file-size limitations for shared files. The maximum size for sending media to group chats is 2GB at the moment. The upcoming feature will probably have a similar size although it would be nice to see Meta expand the limit. Considering that we live in a world where 4K videos exist, an expansion would be great to have.

No word on when this update will become available to beta testers. WABetaInfo states the tool is still under development, so a preview build doesn’t exist yet. If you’re interested in trying out the file-sharing feature once it’s ready, you can become a WhatsApp beta tester by joining the Google Play Beta Program. You may be one of the lucky few to gain access down the line.

Analysis: cross-platform sharing

One thing we would like to see is compatibility across different operating systems. Imagine being able to send files from an Android phone to an iOS device and vice versa. It would certainly give WhatsApp an edge over Quick Share.

If you’re not familiar, Google and Samsung recently entered a partnership that resulted in many new products and combining Nearby Share into Quick Share. Now Android users can use the function for quick file sharing, hence the name. Assuming Meta rolls out the update in its current state, it could cause a lot of confusion as people would arguably be receiving the same thing twice. Giving WhatsApp's tool cross-platform support would make it stand out considerably.

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Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.