What you need to know
- Google appears to have a working replacement for Android Beam that's almost ready for launch.
- The new system is somewhat similar to AirDrop and the current Nearby feature.
- System seems to be 1-to-1 transfer only at the moment, but looks compatible with Android phones, Chromebooks, iPhones, and even Smartwatches.
Android Beam is on its way out with Android Q, that is if you remember that was even still a thing. I maybe had it work twice in my 7 years with Android, so I'm not crying over its departure, but its replacement could be very interesting — or open up Android users to the shenanigans iPhone users have been subjected to for years with AirDrop.
The new system is called Fast Share, and the good folks at 9to5Google got it working on a Google Pixel 3 XL so that we all could see how it works in the wild. Fast Share appears in the Share menu — using the same icon Nearby does — and then opens up a full-screen menu for sending. You need to name your device the first time you use it, and then you can attempt to send it to other devices detected close to you. If you look at the device list in the second screenshot, this feature does not seem limited to Android phones, as an iPhone, Chromebook and smartwatch are listed as being nearby.
Once you select your recipient and send the file or photo, you'll get one last look at what you're sending and then a progress bar. Meanwhile on the recipient's phone, you'll get the chance to accept or reject the file based on the name of the device you're getting it from, with the ability to accept or reject straight from the notification shade if you're busy. If this works well, you'll likely end up using it with family members or close friends, which you can give "Preferred Visibility" so that their devices come up first when sending.
9to5 believed this new feature is tied to Google Play Services rather than Android Q, so be on the lookout for it on your own device. You'll be able to find it (if you have it) in Settings > Google > Fast Share. I don't see it on my devices yet, but I can only hope that once I do it'll make it easier to share photos during family trips or between my phone and Chromebook while working on how-tos.