Google has worked on ‘Nearby Sharing’ for some time now, but it looks like the search giant could be aiming beyond Android with the feature. Nearby Sharing could eventually come to several desktop operating systems.
For those unfamiliar with Nearby Sharing, previously called ‘Fast Share,’ it’s an AirDrop-like software that will let users share things with nearby devices. For example, you could easily share contacts, pictures or websites with those near you.
While it looks like Nearby Sharing could arrive with Android 11, new details uncovered by Chrome Story’s Dinsan Francis suggest it will also come to Chrome OS, Windows, Mac and Linux. Currently, the feature is available on Chrome OS, but is hidden behind a flag. Chrome flags are semi-hidden settings available on the ‘chrome://flags’ page often used to test in-development features.
In this case, the feature is hidden under the ‘#nearby-sharing’ flag. Interestingly, the description of the flag reads as follows: “Enables Nearby Sharing for sharing content between devices. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS.”
— Dinsan (@_dinsan) June 19, 2020
Going by that description, it sounds like Nearby Sharing will come to Chrome on all those platforms. Further, 9to5Google dug into the code and reports that there’s a clear reference to Android’s Nearby Sharing, suggesting these are the same feature.
Unfortunately, turning the flag on in Chrome OS currently does nothing. Likely, Google is still working on the feature and it isn’t ready yet.
It also remains unclear what, exactly, Nearby Sharing will do on Chrome. The most probable is that people can use it to send tabs or web pages between their computer and phone. However, it’d be interesting to see if Nearby Sharing works between Chrome on, say, a laptop and desktop computer.
We’ll likely learn more about Nearby Sharing and how it works when it officially arrives, hopefully later this year with the rollout of Android 11.