The new Nearby Share feature that Google is set to roll out quite widely within the upcoming weeks is beginning to take shape on Chromebooks already. As we’ve previously noted, the feature will provide users with an Apple Airdrop-like experience, allowing for local, wireless file transfers between devices. The big news around the feature is the fact that Google is baking this functionality into Chrome itself, meaning users will be able to take advantage of the service regardless of their operating system.
While we’ve had an eye on Nearby Share since April of this year, development on it seems to be pushing forward a bit quicker as we approach the release of Android 11. In a new post over at Chrome Story, Dinsan Francis was able to not only get the setting and toggle to appear on the Pixel Slate: he was able to initiate a transfer to a nearby device as well. While we’ve had luck getting the flag enabled for Nearby Share, we’ve still not been able to get a file transfer to happen at this point. You can see in his video below the entire process working as you’d expect.
Keep in mind it has only been a few weeks since this setting first appeared in the Canary Channel of Chrome OS, so to see it already functioning on a Chromebook is pretty awesome. Since the entire Nearby Share feature is tied to your Google account, it is pretty clear that this will roll out in whatever timing Google sees fit for it. For example, on my Pixel 4XL in Android 10, I had the Nearby Share feature. On the office-dwelling Pixel 4 that is on the Android 11 Beta, however, the feature is absent. There’s a chance that this will also affect the roll out on Chrome OS, too, so patience is key.
We expect Chrome OS and Chrome 84 to roll out in the next few days, so we’re not looking for Nearby Share to be in that update. Instead, I’d bet we’ll see it roll out in Chrome and Chrome OS 85 in late August or early September. This would align it with the general release window for Android 11 and make it a feature that Google can tout across all platforms as the latest version of Android becomes openly available. For now, we’re going to keep trying to get this feature working and will be looking for it to descend down through the other channels in the coming days.