If you’ve ever looked enviously at your iPhone wielding friends, sharing files between their devices effortlessly thanks to Apple’s AirDrop feature, well you’ll be glad to know that Google has now brought something very similar to Android in the shape of Nearby Share.

This simple feature means you can quickly and easily exchange photos, documents and other data with Android users. We show you how to set up and use Nearby Share.

Will my Android phone get Nearby Share?

Google has announced that devices running Android 6.0 or above will receive the new capability. It’s being rolled out across the world, and the chances are you may already have it on your phone.

If not, you can try updating your apps, especially Google Play Services in which the Nearby Share feature is contained, to see if that makes it appear. Otherwise, you should hopefully see it arrive very soon.

If you’re unsure how to do this, take a look at our guide on how to update Android apps.

How to set up Nearby Share 

To get the new feature up and running, there are a few simple steps you’ll need to take.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Google
  3. Tap Device Connections
  4. Tap Nearby Share

How to use Nearby Share: Enabling Nearby Share

This will open up a page with the option to Turn on Nearby Sharing. Tap that and you’ll be able to adjust the various settings for the feature. The first you’ll need to change is the account that used for sharing. Tap on the No account found section and link your Google account. You can also change the name of your device as it’s seen by others by selecting the Device name section.

Probably the most important option is Device visibility as this determines who can send you files. The default is Hidden (where no-one can see your device), but you change this to Some contacts (where you then select who can share files with you) or All contacts (everyone in your contacts that has Nearby Share enabled), depending on which is your preference.

How to use Nearby Share: Changing Settings

How to use Nearby Share

With everything in place, you’re now ready to begin. Bear in mind, that anyone you’re sharing with will also need to have Nearby Share enabled to be able to send or receive files.

To share, simply find the file you want to send, tap the Share button. In the list of apps that appear on the share menu you should now see Nearby Share as an option. Tap this and your device will search for any others nearby that have Nearby Share setup.

When it finds one, select it, then the recipient will get a notification that you want to share a file with them. If they agree then the file will be transferred immediately.

How to use Nearby Share: Sharing Files

Of course, you don’t have to use Nearby Share to transfer files. Google Drive, OneDrive and others provide this ability to share even if the recipient is half way round the world.

See our roundup of the best cloud storage services to see which ones are worthy of your attention.