Last month, it was discovered that Google was hard at work on bringing Android’s answer to AirDrop, Nearby Sharing, to Chrome OS and Google Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Now the feature has begun to appear for some on Chrome OS Canary.
For a few months now, we’ve been watching Nearby Sharing develop, expecting it to be intended for sending files, links, and more between Android devices. With its arrival in Google Chrome, it became clear that Google has much larger ambitions for folks to share between phones, laptops, desktops, and tablets.
As spotted by Chrome Story, Nearby Sharing has begun to work in Chrome OS, but not the way you might expect. For the time being, it’s only appeared in Chrome OS Canary and seems to directly use Android’s version of Nearby Sharing, right down the same UI available on phones today. Chrome Story was able to get Nearby Sharing to work on a Google Pixel Slate and captured a video of it in action.
For the time being, it looks like getting Nearby Sharing is at the very least dependent on two flags in chrome://flags being enabled.
Enables Nearby Sharing for sharing content between devices. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS
Chrome OS sharesheet. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android
With those two flags enabled, along with turning on a new “Nearby Share” toggle in the Settings app, Chrome Story was able to show Nearby Sharing in the share menu of the Chrome OS Files app. Selecting the option brings up the exact same UI seen on Android, which looks a bit awkward on Chrome OS, only taking up only part of the screen.
Just like on real Android devices, we believe that Nearby Sharing is tied to Google Play Services, meaning it’s only available to those who are enrolled for beta updates. That being said, we’ve tried to recreate Chrome Story’s success on our own Chromebook with Chrome OS Canary, but even on the newest Google Play Services beta, we could not get Nearby Sharing to appear. We will likely need to wait for Android’s Nearby Sharing experiment to roll out more widely, as it’s currently in a “limited beta test.”
For now, we’re not sure whether Chrome OS will continue to rely on Android’s version of Nearby Sharing or if it will eventually work using the native versions coming soon for Windows, Mac, and Linux, which are still a work-in-progress.
More on Chrome OS:
- Chrome OS preparing Steam gaming support, starting with 10th Gen Intel Chromebooks
- Google working on clipboard manager for Chrome OS
- Chrome OS set to gain Android-like ‘Sharesheet’
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