Fast Share, Google's AirDrop alternative, leaks with new features and UI

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Google Pixel 3a XL vs. Pixel 3 XL: Which should you buy? (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is readying its AirDrop competitor, aptly named "Fast Share."
  • Fast Share will replace the aging Android Beam service which was neither fast nor easy.
  • The newly discovered screenshots below show how the design will look and some new features which have been added.

Android phones have featured a way to share files for years now using Android Beam, but the process was slow and cumbersome. That's probably why you haven't used it or didn't even know it existed, and also why Google has ended support for Beam with Android 10.

Don't worry though, because Google has also been working on a replacement called Fast Share. Much like the name, Fast Share is meant to be something Beam wasn't — fast. It does this by using Bluetooth to find devices and Wi-Fi to do the actual file transfer. For comparison's sake, Android Beam used Bluetooth to move the bits and bytes.

Back in June, we got a first look at Fast Share, but now we're getting an even deeper dive thanks to the folks over at XDA-Developers. The new screenshots show Google has made a lot of progress in the past couple of months and revamped the design.

New features, such as an account switcher and a PIN for file transfers, have been added, while the settings have been relocated from the Google account menu to Android's connections menu. Fast Share has also added a new share sheet which allows you to name your device and set a level of visibility for sharing.

Along with all the feature enhancements, the design has also been updated. In the first iteration, Fast Share would take over the entire screen, but that is no longer the case. The new screenshots show a much more refined UI that only shows an overlay at the bottom.

Unfortunately, Fast Share isn't currently operational, but we are able to get a glimpse at how the sharing process works. For instance, we can see a list of dummy devices as targets when you attempt to share, including a Chromebook, Pixel 3, a Wear OS smartwatch, and even an iPhone.

It's uncertain whether all of these devices will be supported when Fast Share launches, specifically the iPhone, but we're looking forward to finding out. Hopefully, Google will launch Fast Share sometime soonish. It's expected that there will be a pretty big Pixel event coming in October, and that would be a great time to unveil some new features. Just saying.

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Jason England
  • What exactly is the difference between this and just sharing over Bluetooth or NFC? I'm not familiar with exactly how Airdrop works.
  • Sharing over WiFi is significantly faster than sharing over Bluetooth or NFC. Google already does sharing over WiFi with its Files app but I think this new file share does it without an app and it seems simpler.
  • Bluetooth is very slow. NFC (near field communication) is mostly for small amounts of data to be transferred (ex. Android pay, connecting speaker that has a NFC chip). Airdrop uses Bluetooth to find other devices (in this case for other apple devices) but uses the internet to transfer it. Which is miles better than BT transfer. Google is trying to do the same thing for other Android devices but we're hoping it'll work with PC and not just only chrome os devices. There's actually a way to transfer to pc
    By using the web app snapdrop but you have to be on the same wifi network.
  • If it does't have ability to share with PC, than there is no meaning in using this, It's popular with apple due to its ability to share files easily with laptop, tablet and mobile! Android should officially start supporting winnows which would be win-win for both of them!
  • Why would you need to "share" your photos from your Pixel phone with your PC, when all photos taken on a Pixel are automatically backed up to Google Photos on the cloud. It doesn't even have to be a Pixel phone. Any Android phone can back up your pictures to Google Photos. You just get better quality and unlimited storage with a Pixel phone. Then, you only need to open Google Photos in your browser on any device, including Apple devices and your pictures will already be there, ready to download to your device if you want to store them in a folder somewhere on your device.
  • Sharing isn't only for photos. It can be anything. Also if you want to use Google photos with another person then they would have to be logged in with your account.
  • Okay, that's fair. But let's use the same arguement, but replace Google Photos with Google Drive. Literally anything I want to be backed up from my phone can be put in the Drive - and also vice versa using Google's Backup and Sync app on Windows. Instantly making whatever I want available on my phone and PC simultaneously.
  • But it's not always instantly available in Google Photos or Google Drive. If you've just recorded some long 4K video, that thing isn't going to be backed up for a while. Or you may not have any cell service. Pushing a few buttons to transfer a file directly from me to you over wifi is simple and fast.
  • I have all my photos sync with OneDrive, instead of Google drive. I have access to every photo I take or save on my computer, since I mostly use Microsoft services on my Note 8. If access to your photos on PC is what you want, this would be one way to do it natively, without the need to open a browser. OneDrive photo folder is just a click a way.