What you need to know
- Google Play is rolling out the ability to share apps using Nearby Share.
- Sharing is limited to free and publicly available Play Store apps.
- Google first announced Play Store app sharing with Nearby Share late last year.
Google launched Nearby Share in mid-2020 as a way to make sharing data and content easier on Android. It replaced the now-defunct Android Beam feature that required two phones to physically touch and pair via NFC and Bluetooth. We have a handy guide on how to use Nearby Share on your Android phone, but basically, it's an easy way for users to view nearby contacts and share files using WiFi Direct, Bluetooth, and a number of other protocols. It's a pretty handy feature that's getting even better with the latest Play Store update.
First announced late last year, Google is finally allowing Android users to share apps from the Play Store using Nearby Share. It seems the feature is still rolling out, but those who have it will notice a new "Share" tab in the My Apps & Games section of the Play Store. From there, you'll select if you want to share or receive an app, then you'll be taken to a list of shareable apps that you can send. Following the prompts on selecting the recipient and accepting the pairing code is pretty straight-forward, but we'll be sure to have a thorough how-to guide soon on how to use the feature.
This way is a bit easier than the current implementation with Nearby Share. To share an app, you would normally have to go to a specific app page on the Play Store and select "Share" from the dot menu at the top. Selecting Nearby Share would send a link to the recipient that would take them to the app page where they would select to download and install. This new way streamlines the process by directly downloading the app onto the recipient's device.
Sharing apps with Nearby Share does have its limits though. For anyone trying to dodge the system and avoid paying for apps, you're out of luck as paid apps aren't shareable. The same goes for apps that aren't public or those that aren't available on the Play Store such as sideloaded apps. It's possible that there could be other limitations as well, but for now, the feature seems limited to free, publicly available apps on the Play Store. Still, it's a great way to avoid using up data while getting access to some of your friends' favorite apps.
The feature is rolling out now, so it should be available to even the best cheap Android phones as long as you have Nearby Share and the latest version of the Play Store.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.