Nearby Share has become an indispensable feature of the Google ecosystem and Google’s answer to Apple’s “Airdrop” when it comes to sharing files between Android and ChromeOS devices. I use it on a regular basis, and it makes my workflow so much more efficient. However, there is one small hurdle that Google decided needn’t be there: going through the step of accepting a file transfer when you are sending something from yourself to yourself between different devices. This became very evident in a commit found in the Chromium Gerrit for a new feature called “Self Share.”
We have been following the progress of Nearby “Self Share” ever since Chrome Story found the commit for it in the Chromium Gerrit and when the feature was found present in a version of Google Play Services that was not yet public. Essentially, “Self Share” would take the approval process out of Nearby Share as long as you are signed in to both devices using the same Google Account, making the file transfer more direct and without as much involvement.
With the release of the May 2022 Android system update, the version of Google Play Services that is needed is finally rolling out, and we were finally able to get “Self Share” working. We tested by sending files from Pixel phones on Android 12 and Android 13 Beta to various Chromebooks running on the Beta channel of ChromeOS (version 102) or higher. This worked like a charm, though we did have to turn on a couple of flags. Unfortunately, we were unable to replicate the functionality the other way around. In order to get this working between your Android device and your Chromebook, the following are needed:
- Your Android device needs to be running the latest Google Play services (v22.15 or higher) and Google Play Store (v30.3 or higher), as reported by Android Authority.
- Your ChromeOS device needs to be on the Beta channel (v102.0.5005.22) or higher. It’s not yet available on the Stable release.
- Turn on two flags on your ChromeOS device: nearby-sharing-self-share-auto-accept and nearby-sharing-self-share-ui.
As you can see in the video above, the process of sharing a photo between my Pixel and my Chromebook was seamless, and there was no need for me to tap “accept” at any point. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as lucky when I tried to send the same photo back to my Pixel, hinting that there is still a piece of the puzzle missing on that end.
If I had to guess, I’d say that there is still a server-side update that needs to roll out to have the “Your devices” option available on Android’s “Device visibility” settings. While testing this feature, I noticed that I still had “Hidden” in my options instead of the new “Your devices” that links file transfer with your Google account across devices, even though I have all the latest versions of Google Play and Play services.
All of this to say that I think this is very close to prime time, and as good as it is working from Pixel to Chromebook, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing it working much better – if not fully working – once ChromeOS 102 hits the Stable channel. Nevertheless, I am very pleased with the results so far, and I intend to continue to use the feature on Beta and hope to see a wide rollout soon.