It has barely been two months since Google formally announced Android’s Nearby Sharing feature that allows users to quickly share files via Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, WebRTC, and peer-to-peer Wi-Fi between Android devices. This feature is pretty much Android’s answer to Apple’s AirDrop For a few weeks now, the feature has been hiding behind a flag in all channels of Chrome OS but just recently started showing signs of life in the Canary build.
The first time around, we were only able to send files from a Chrome OS device but a recent update to Canary has fixed that issue. Now, we have been able to send and receive files between my Chromebook and my One Plus 8. The transfers aren’t limited to text or images, either. While I was writing this, I attempted to send the .deb installation package for Steam to my phone and it worked. The 2.8MB file transferred in under five seconds. That’s pretty impressive. I threw together a couple of videos in which I transferred an image file as well as a URL to my Chromebook. Check it out.
Nearby Share to Chromebook
As I mentioned in previous articles, the Nearby Share feature will work in a very similar fashion to the Android version. In the Nearby Share settings, you will be able to choose who you want your device to be visible to and the feature has to be “activated” via the Nearby Share icon that will live in the system tray. Users will be able to choose which connection types they wish to allow for the transfer and you can customize the name of your device for ease of visibility. Here’s a breakdown of the share to and share with settings in their current state.
Devices you can share with
- People who have chosen to be visible to you when their screen is unlocked
- Devices near you when Nearby Share is open on their device
Who can share with your device
- All contacts near you when your screen is unlocked
- Devices near you when Nearby Share is open on your device
The flags for Nearby Share and the necessary Share Sheet are in the Stable build of Chrome OS but at the time of this publication, the functionality is limited to the Canary channel. I don’t recommend moving your device to this somewhat unstable build as it requires you to put the device into developer mode and that can create not only stability issues but also compromise the security of your device. We’ll keep an eye on the Developer channel and update you when it looks like Nearby Share will move its way up the ranks.