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Android will have an equivalent to Apple's AirDrop file sharing

Fast Share would effectively replace Android Beam.
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Chris Velazco/Engadget

Ask iPhone users about the creature comforts they like and there's a good chance they'll mention AirDrop -- it's an easy way to share a photo with a nearby Apple device owner. Android users should soon have an equivalent, though. The 9to5Google team has managed to enable an upcoming Fast Share feature on Android that, like AirDrop, would use a combination of Bluetooth and WiFi to send files and even text snippets to nearby people. Turn it on and you can see nearby Fast Share-enabled devices, with transfers taking just a couple of taps (including a confirmation from the recipient).

There are a few key differences. It doesn't appear that you can limit transfers to your contacts, but you can specify "Preferred Visibility" so that favorites see you even when you're not using Fast Share. The sample recipients in the Fast Share screen suggest this might be available on Chromebooks, iOS devices and even Wear OS smartwatches, although we wouldn't count on all of those being available whenever the feature goes public. An iOS version would require a special app.

It's not certain when Fast Share will launch, although it's a Google Play Services feature and likely wouldn't require Android Q. Google might not wait long, though. The company has warned that it's deprecating NFC-based Android Beam transfers in Q. As such, Fast Share could be the only way to quickly send files to local users without resorting to apps (like Files by Google) that your friends won't necessarily have.

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