Direct Share makes it even easier to share to your contacts in Android

No other mobile OS handles interactions between apps quite as well as Android. With the release of Android 6.0, Google took this idea and went one step further. We use dozens of apps every day, several for communication. Instead of sharing everything to everyone every time, it makes a lot of sense to make it easy to share something with a single person, especially someone we communicate with on a regular basis.

The function is called Direct Share, and it makes it incredibly easy to share something from just about any app directly to someone you talk to on a regular basis. Here's how it works.

Just about everything you use on Android has some kind of share function. It's baked into cloud storage apps, social networks, photo editors, and a surprising number of games for people who want to show off their high score. The share function in Android will let you send a link or a file to just about every other app on your phone, which makes organizing links for a research project or sharing photos and even the occasional meme super easy. Direct Share adds a new section to the list of available share targets, only instead of apps those share targets are more specific.

Direct Share

In most cases, those share targets are people. Specifically, people you communicate with on a regular basis. If an app supports Direct Share, you'll see the people you communicate with most frequently in those apps. There are some exceptions, Google Drive for example allows you to Direct Share with folders you frequently use. The key here is a person or part of an app your frequently use. Direct Share lets the apps make that information available to the user, which in turn makes it so information can be shared with fewer steps in between the share button and the destination.

In the event that you use multiple apps for communication, or there are multiple apps you frequently use that takes advantage of Direct Share in different ways, you'll note that no app can use all of the space available in this Direct Share area. The contact bubble includes a small app icon to let you know where you're sharing to that contact, so while there's potential for duplicates it isn't hard to avoid. There's currently no way to give an app or contact priority over any other outside of your daily usage, and as a result this section can change frequently based on how you use your phone.

The biggest challenge with Direct Share right now is actually using the feature. Currently the list of apps that support the feature doesn't even include Google's own Hangouts instant messaging service, so to say there aren't a lot of apps supporting the function yet is something of an understatement. The biggest apps currently supporting this feature are WhatsApp, Google's default SMS app on Nexus phones, and Google Drive. As we see more manufacturers update to Android 6.0, Direct Share is bound to be a feature target for more and more developers.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

  • Hope there is a way to control direct shares. they could become a huge list if most apps supports it
  • Im on Android at the moment, admitidly only 5.1, but I still think BlackBerry 10 was better for sharing/interactions.
  • 100% agree. It's better in Marshmallow than earlier versions but BB10 was definitely better. I'm all Android now but certain things Blackberry did just right. Posted via the Android Central App
  • in what way? i just came off a blackberry z10 last month and most of the sharing i did was through sms. i only knew 1 other person with a blackberry and rarely shared anything with them other than for testing purposes which was screenshare through bbm which was choppy anyway. Posted via the Android Central App on LG G Stylo
  • Google needs to incorporate Direct Share with Google Chromecast so you don't need a wifi connection.
  • If you know how Chromecast actually works you would know you need to have a Internet connection. Sprint Galaxy Tab 4 on 5.1.1 update.
    Gives me hope for 6.0 Marshmallow.
  • Dang someone is rude.
  • Rude? Maybe.
    Correct? Definitely. My motto is know your tech. Don't be a "Normal". Sprint Galaxy Tab 4 on 5.1.1 update.
    Gives me hope for 6.0 Marshmallow.
  • I've noticed this feature on my Nexus 6P with the Messenger app. Then I started using Textra and noticed the direct share feature hasn't been integrated yet. So I switched back to messenger in large part due to this feature. It really is convenient imo. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ditto. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I love this feature on my Nexus 5X! It's the best new feature in Marshmallow by far. Posted via the Android Central app on my Nexus 5X with Project Fi
  • OK I didn't know this was a new feature on 6.0 but I really like it. It's makes sharing videos and links etc with friends very easy. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Telegram uses this feature too
  • My Moto X 2nd Gen was just updated, and I was REALLY looking forward to this feature for messaging using Google Messenger (version 1.6.043), but the pane of 8 contacts is filled up all by WhatsApp contacts (most of which I haven't ever shared things with, and some I haven't spoken with in ages), and Messenger doesn't appear. I'd also expect facebook and Google Inbox to appear. But nope... just a list of people I'd never share with in an app I wouldn't share with them in taking up two rows of space. If anyone has any recommendations how to fix this, please do let me know... because this feature just feels broken broken broken.