Skip to main content

Google ports its AirDrop-like Nearby Share to Windows via the Chrome browser

Nearby Share
Nearby Share (Image credit: Joe Maring / Windows Central)

Nearby Share

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google last month started rolling out Nearby Share to a select few Android users.
  • The company now seems to have its sights on Windows.
  • The latest Dev and Canary builds of Chrome for Windows include experimental support for the highly-anticipated feature.

After years of pleas, Google has finally listened to its users and brewed up its own version of Apple's beloved AirDrop. And while quickly sharing large files between phones is fun, one of the biggest draws of AirDrop is its seamless integration across devices, whether that your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Thankfully, Google, too, is aiming for the same type of ubiquity and cross-platform compatibility for Nearby Share, as the folks as Techdows discovered this week. The latest Dev and Canary builds of Chrome for Windows, it seems, have an experimental flag enabling Nearby Share for Windows PCs!

Of course, the feature won't just be limited to Windows in the future and should be available on all the platforms where Chrome is available: Mac, Linux, and of course, Chromebooks. That ubiquity will, in fact, allow Google to even one-up AirDrop, and make it the file sharing mode of choice for many users regardless of which platform they use.

To activate the feature on your PC, head over to chrome://flags in the browser, and search for the 'Nearby Sharing' flag. Once you've enabled it, chrome://nearby should bring up the understandably very rudimentary UI for the feature.

Additionally, you will need to have a PC with Bluetooth and a compatible Chromebook or Android device for Nearby Sharing to work. It also goes without saying, of course, that both devices must be close to each other with Bluetooth and Nearby Sharing turned on.

If you'd like to try Nearby Share for yourself, you're in luck! The company finally let users have a small taste of the feature late last month with a beta test. However, it's only being propagated to a select few devices enrolled in both the Android 11 and the Google Play Services betas. If you're not among the lucky few, however, the feature will become officially available with Android 11 in September.

25 Comments
  • Is this something that can be ported to the new Edge?
  • I'm gonna guess that it can if it's an extension.
  • It's not an extension. Google would have to port it to the "Chromium project and I bet they don't. Edge has features Chrome doesn't like Chromium.
  • Xender is very popular too.
  • Is Xender chinese? Then thank you but no thank you!
  • One of the most over-rated iOS features. I knew no one that used it and I couldn't come up with a reason to ask them too. What -- texting is photo is too hard? Forward a PDF in an email is exhausting? Oh, and when you want to AirDrop, others have to be game. Prepared. Ready. Texting/Email? You just do it and then they deal with it when ready.
  • You still email attachments to yourself? 😂 It's less useful to others, outside of North America people just WhatsApp each other, but it's in the ability to send large amounts of files to your pc it'll be useful.
  • "You still email attachments to yourself? 😂" You're having a nice laugh for yourself -- but unfortunately you haven't made a valid point. I never email attachments to myself -- since everything I need I already have. And the topic is sending 'stuff' to others. Airdrop is the idea that moving files from a PC to a phone is now super easy. Yay. Except -- I never need to do that. There's nothing on my phone that isn't already on my PC. Examples -- 1. Every photo I take on my phone is backup up to Google photos. So when I get to any of my PCs, I open the Google Photo web app in my taskbar and there's the photo. In fact -- there are ALL of them. 2. But perhaps I need to send that photo to a friend from my phone? It takes less time and effort to text it to them. I do not have to have them nearby or ready. You're also 'forgetting' that the way most people share most photos is social media. You don't send a group of friends a photo of y'all eating sushi. You post it on FB or Insta or wherever. 3. Every song I have is backed up to Apple Music and Google Play Music and accessible everywhere. If I want someone to hear a song I post the YouTube link of it to social media. 4. My phone is a portal. It stores nothing but apps and recent photos. So the idea that I'd want people to send me actual photos or PDFs or DOCs to my phone specifically is asinine. If someone had a PDF I'd say email to me... so that it's not only on my phone but EVERYWHERE. It's more secure that way too. 5. By the way -- most people who'd be Airdrop fans are the same idiots that text from their phones. They don't seem to grasp that if you text from your laptop it's MUCH MUCH FASTER and WAY EASIER to share ANYTHING. The joke is on you buddy. You're still sending items to one place? From your phone? 😂😂😂
  • Windows already has its own Nearby Sharing feature which users can enable vis Settings->System->Shared Experiences. However, it currently works with other Windows devices only. Most people would find more utility in using this to move files to and from their phone and PC. (This is yet another cool feature that was probably designed for a world where Windows Phones were still a thing.) In any case, I would prefer that Microsoft add integration for this into Your Phone so that there is an open, cross-browser solution available for Windows users. Nobody should be forced to use a specific browser to easily share files with their mobile device.
  • +1, that feature has no place in a BROWSER.
  • Where do you propose Google put it to reach mass uptake other than Chrome exactly? It's already in Your Phone. It's so clunky though.
  • Which makes Shared Experience useless, unless you happen to own two PCs. It needs to be Android to Windows and visa versa to take off.
  • Actually it's also called Nearby Sharing :D. It's a feature of Shared Experiences. It actually work flawlessly. I've started using it between my PC and work PC but it's always really needed Android support.
  • everything should not be shoehorned into scroogle chrome. bring it on board edge, I will use it. not on chrome 💩
  • Edge basically is Chrome now with a Microsoft skin. If you are still using Microsoft's dying ecosystem, that is weird.
  • I'd offer that Microsoft has never been an ecosystem. I'll grant you that it tries now and again but it strikes me more as a very successful platform. It presents itself as a way to get business done with the leading Office Suite and being the OS where virtually all business related apps run. It doesn't force you into an ecosystem (like Apple and Chrome OS). And get this -- I was an Apple only user for 29 years and I've only been using Android/Windows 10 for 5 years. So I'm particularly objective on this topic. I'm also a LibreOffice user that has never touched MS Office.
  • God bless you for this very honest statement. wish I could follow you on social media and learn from your intellectual ideas. stay blessed
  • I might argue that too, being a reason Windows phone failed. Microsoft had an ecosystem though, just never a good one. You could get much better services from other ecosystems. Microsoft's services are always clunky and limited.
  • Microsoft is dying cos edge runs on Google chromium rendering engine? tin foil hat naysayer
  • Their ecosystem is dead. They don't have the common services anymore. The company itself is fine of course, but there really isn't any reason to care about them anymore. Office isn't exciting and only useful for heavy work. Windows is Windows, same as it has been for decades. Nothing else is worth using.
  • No. It is chromium, without all the Google crap and actual spyware. Chrome sends around 2GB of unknown encrypted user information to Google per week, in addition to search and other info sent to Google. (Which cannot be blocked technically due to dynamic IP hopping, and other end-around tricks, like using any site with Google analytics to pass the data to Google.) Edge doesn't do this, is less resource intensive, faster, and uses newer technology features like newer/better video support, etc. Edge also integrates with Microsoft' ecosystem, which is the largest business ecosystem in the world. (Outlook 365, etc)
  • The only thing I use by Google is...………………..YouTube.
  • Another way for Google to rummage through your documents and files. No thanks.
  • 🤣 Take off the tin foil hat.
  • Don't apologize for corporations stealing our privacy.