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

Nearby Share
Nearby Share (Image credit: 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.

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Muhammad Jarir Kanji
  • Wonder if this will show up in CrEdge. Don't have Chrome loaded on my PCs or Macs.
  • Doubt it. Google would have to publish it to Chromium, which I doubt they'll want to do.
  • Is the whole purpose of this just to transfer files between devices? If so, I've been doing this for years with PushBullet Pro. I've never had issues sending files (or pulling files) from any of my devices. 👍
  • Good for you. That's not native so less chance getting a mate to use it. Big difference if something is native.
  • It's also for transferring between phones.