It has been quite a while since Google’s Nearby Sharing feature snuck its way into the Chromium repository. While Nearby Sharing hasn’t been live for Android users for very long, it looks like the Chrome OS team is hard at it getting the file-sharing feature working for Chromebooks. The Nearby Share flag popped up in the Canary channel of Chrome OS a few months ago. However, apart from Chrome Story somehow getting it to work back in July, the feature has been completely non-functioning. When enabled along with a “share sheet” flag, the sharing option in the Files app simply shows the Nearby Share icon. Clicking the icon launched a dummy placeholder screen. My guess is that developers did not intend for the feature to ever show up for the general public. When Chrome Story’s Dinsan Francis was able to get it working, I presume the Chromium team slammed the door.
Today, the Canary channel of Chrome OS received another update and this time, it looks like Nearby Sharing is once again live. Not only did my Chromebook recognize nearby visible devices, but we were also able to send files to multiple Android phones here in the office. That said, Nearby Sharing on Chrome OS is still very much a work in progress. As on Android, users can set device visibility based on personal preference. You can make your Chromebook visible to anyone in your contact list, select contacts, or hidden entirely until you wish to make it visible. Sending files requires Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to be enabled unless, of course, you have the uncommon LTE Chromebook.
As I mentioned, this is a work in progress. We were able to duplicate the sharing process but not without some hiccups. Each time I shared a file, the subsequent attempt would result in my Chromebook completely restarting. Sometimes, trying to send a file would do nothing as if Nearby Share didn’t know what to do with the file size or type. Also, sending from a phone to the Chromebook is still a no-go. A few times we were able to get a phone to see my Chromebook but sending a file failed each time with the Chromebook never alerting us that a device was attempting to share.
Regardless of how rough around the edges it may be, it looks as though Google is trying to get this feature up and running sooner than later. Chrome OS Canary is currently on version 87. Yes, there are still some things to iron out but we could very well see Nearby Sharing land on Chrome OS well before the end of the year. I’ll keep testing the feature with each update and we’ll keep an eye on the Developer channel to see when Nearby Sharing may get its next promotion.