After Nearby Share lands on Windows, macOS gains unofficial support with a new app

Nearby Share on an Android phone
(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A developer reverse-engineered Android's Nearby Share for macOS and dubbed it "NearDrop."
  • This version brings partial support for Macs and only lets the computer act as a receiver.
  • Android phones can send files over to a macOS device over Wi-Fi LAN and the computer must remain visible on the network at all times to work.
  • Google's Nearby Share recently moved into a proper beta phase for Windows PCs.

A developer took it into their own hands to help make file sharing easier between Macs and Android phones.

Android's Nearby Share is commonly used to share images, files, or links with another phone. A developer on Reddit posted some details about how they reverse-engineered Android's Nearby Share for macOS along with their code on GitHub and protocol documents (via Mishaal Rahman).

The developer dubbed their creation "NearDrop," which sounds like a clever combination of NearbyShare and AirDrop, although it comes with a few limitations. Through its partial support, NearDrop for Mac can only receive files from an Android device over Wi-Fi LAN. 

The app's creator stated Google's Nearby Share supports a few different methods, but of those, Wi-Fi Direct is not supported on macOS. Also, Bluetooth is not working with this version as it requires "further reverse engineering."

A final limitation mentioned is the requirement for a user's Mac to be "visible at all times" on their network while the NearDrop application is active.

Grishka, the developer behind this Nearby Share for macOS, touched on why they didn't try and reverse engineer AirDrop for Android. Simply put, it would require a custom kernel and root because of Apple's own take on peer-to-peer Wi-Fi known as AWDL (Apple Wireless Direct Link).

Android's Nearby Share recently moved into a solid beta phase for Windows PCs after initially teasing its arrival at CES 2022. Now, Windows computers can experiment with sending and receiving files from Android phones, just as simply as when sending files between Android devices.

This isn't the first time Google and Apple's tumultuous relationship has resulted in third-party workarounds. There's the whole thing about Google pressuring Apple to adopt RCS messaging, which has led to apps like Sunbird trying to bring iMessage support to Android phones.

As for NearDrop, the app seems to work well, given its limitations. If you're a Mac user and want to try it out yourself, you can head over to the developer's GitHub page to get started.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.