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Tech tips

How to easily share files from one Android phone to another

If you have a cool picture or meme that you want to share with a friend, it’s pretty easy to send it to them through a text or instant messenger program.

But what if you have more substantial files that you need to share? Texting isn’t going to get the job done. That’s why Apple implemented its AirDrop feature a few years ago. It lets you share files without installing additional software. Tap or click here to see how this handy feature works.

Recognizing that AirDrop is helpful and easy to use, Google developed a similar technology for Android phones. Called Nearby Share, it allows Android devices to quickly share content if they are close by. Let’s take a look at how it works and how to use it.

Here is how it works

Google knows that there are other methods to share content. So instead of reinventing the function, they have made it faster to do. Through Nearby Share, you don’t have to open a messenger app, look for a contact, search for the image and then share it.

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When a file is open on your Android phone, tap the Share button, select Nearby Share and you will be all set. The phone will scan for any other devices nearby, and the receiver will get a notification that you want to share something. Once they accept, the file will be transferred.

(Image source: Google)

The best part is you don’t even have to be connected to the internet for it to work. When Nearby Share is activated, your phone will automatically select the transfer method that will be the fastest. This can be either through Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WebRTC or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi.

If you are worried about security, Nearby Share is completely anonymous. You don’t need to share contact details first, and you can adjust your privacy settings from your phone’s Quick Settings. Sending and receiving files is done anonymously, and you can choose if you want to appear “hidden,” visible to “some contacts” or visible to “all contacts.”

How to enable Nearby Share

For safety and personal security, Nearby Share isn’t enabled on your device by default. Both the receiver and the sender will need to enable it to work. Here is how you enable the function on your phone:

  • Open your phone’s Settings.
  • Scroll down and tap Google.
  • Tap Device Connections.
  • Tap Nearby Share.
  • Toggle the option to On.
  • Select Device Visibility.
  • Choose if you want to appear “hidden,” visible to “some contacts” or visible to “all contacts.”

While you don’t have to share contact details first for it to work, the receiver’s details will need to be in the sender’s contact list. Here is a quick video explaining how Nearby Share works:

Comparison to Apple’s AirDrop

In functionality for consumers, AirDrop and Nearby Share is virtually identical. But there are some distinct differences, most noticeably the technology used. Nearby Share uses Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WebRTC or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. AirDrop only uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

But there is a reason for this. Files that are transferred through AirDrop use TLS encryption over a direct Apple-created peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection.

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Apple also allows any iOS device to be visibly open to anybody within range, where the Nearby Share’s can only be visible to your contacts. This has naturally created some rather embarrassing situations for iOS users, as people have reported receiving unwanted images from strangers.

Through independent testing, the transfer speed of AirDrop was 10 seconds faster than Neary Share, but Apple’s technology took longer to prepare the file than Android.

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