Earlier this year, Google revealed that its next mobile OS release – Android Q – would be losing support for Android Beam, the closest thing the iOS competitor has to Apple’s AirDrop.
Android Beam used a device’s NFC technology to (slowly) share files and media with other devices by placing them back-to-back, whereas Apple’s AirDrop uses a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to share between iOS and macOS devices.
9to5Google (opens in new tab), though, has uncovered Google’s replacement to Android Beam and managed to get it functioning on a device running the Android Q beta. It’s called Fast Share and appears to be comparable to AirDrop in that it uses Bluetooth to establish a link between devices before using a direct Wi-Fi connection to actually transfer the files.
Specifically, Fast Share will allow users to share images, URLs, snippets of text and other files and will show up as an option in the regular ‘share’ menu alongside other social media and messaging applications.
Once you’ve got the setting enabled and have named your device, it’s just a matter of switching on Bluetooth and Location Services then choosing the appropriate device to Fast Share to.
In the instructional screenshots that Google supplies as an introduction to the feature, it shows a Chromebook, a Pixel 3, a smartwatch and even an iPhone listed under the nearby devices, which presumably means we’ll be able to share across different platforms.
Once the sender has selected a device to share to, the recipient will be able to see their device name as well as a connection ID for verification, at which point they can accept or decline the transfer.
For devices you share to often, you’re able to give them “preferred visibility”, which allows them to “always see your device when you’re nearby, even if you’re not using Fast Share”, according to Google’s information screen on the feature.
Considering that Google hasn’t made any official announcements related to Fast Share, we don’t have any concrete information on when it will become available, but given that the next major OS release will be losing Android Beam, it’s a good bet that we’ll be seeing Fast Share land on Android Q when it becomes publicly available in August.