Nearby Sharing has been in the works on Chrome OS for nearly a year now but the project still has some kinks that need to be worked out before it’s ready for the main stage. That said, the flags needed to try out this cool new feature are in the Stable channel and you can try them out yourself without the anxiety-inducing task of switching channels. We’ve frequently tested the Airdrop-like feature in the Canary channel and it appears to be working very well. Unfortunately, the fine-tuning needed to get this working properly in Stable hasn’t quite made its way up the ladder at this point but that doesn’t mean that you can’t tinker around with it. Right?
What is Nearby Sharing?
Nearby Sharing is Google’s answer to Apple’s Airdrop which allows users to share files between “nearby” devices. On Android, it replaces Android Beam that relied on NFC and physical contact between mobile devices. It also simplifies the sharing process for files that you have in Google Photos, Drive, and other Google Services that prompt you to create a sharing link for files. The rollout for Nearby Sharing on Android began back in August and devices on Android 6.0 and up support the feature.
On the Chrome OS end, this feature will have similar functionality. Devices will leverage Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and wireless data to share files between Android phones and Chrome OS devices. When you open your Files app on your Chromebook, you will be given the option to share a file via a share icon at the top of the app. Once you click Nearby Sharing, devices that are near you will be prompted that someone is using the feature and they will be able to make their devices visible by clicking the notification.
In its current state, sharing to Chrome OS appears to be working quite well. The other direction, however, is still hit or miss at best. Regardless, the feature is available in the Stable channel with the activation of a couple of flags. So, without further ado, here’s how you can try out the Nearby Sharing feature on your Chromebook right now with very little effort.
To get started, simply point your browser to
chrome://flags and search for “nearby.” You should see the Nearby Sharing flag. Enable that flag but before you restart, there is another flag you need to find. Search for “sharesheet” and you should be greeted with that flag. This will allow add the share icon to your files app and allow the sharing popup to fire when you’re ready to try it out. Once you have those enabled, click the “restart” button at the bottom right of the page and you should be all set. Now, when you click on a file in the Files app, you should have the share icon right between the open button and the trash can icon. Remember, this feature is still a work in progress and it is buggy but it’s great to see Nearby Sharing in the Stable channel and we’re excited to see this one in the flesh. Hopefully, Nearby Sharing will go live in the next major update of Chrome OS which rolls out at the end of January. Have fun with this one.