For the Android team, “Better Together” has been a persistent theme in announcements at CES and now I/O 2022. Besides cross-device experiences in its own products, Google wants to make it easy for third-party Android developers to build similar Nearby Share experiences in their apps.
Today, Nearby Share is how you can send text, files, and other information between Android devices and Chromebooks. At I/O, Google showed off being able to copy something (URL, text, or picture) on your phone and paste it to your tablet.
The exact workflow involves Android 13’s new Clipboard overlay, which appears after copying something, showing a new Nearby Share button. That opens a similarly titled sheet that provides a preview and shows nearby devices. After it’s sent, you can just paste as you usually would on the target device.
We’ve been hard at work on building out a software stack to enable both platform-driven and developer-driven multi-device experiences leveraging ultra-wideband, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
Google wants all applications, not just the OS, to have similar cross-device experiences (check out the Build powerful, multi-device experiences session), and it’s going to “design, build, and deliver the core framework and capabilities that enable devices across the Android device ecosystem to compound each other’s value.”
These APIs will also support bidirectional communication between devices so that two devices can not only talk to each other, but also share a common task. These APIs will also be backwards compatible down to API 26, so you can start using them right now. We also intend to support cross-platform development, extending beyond Android to cover Chrome OS, iOS, Windows, and other platforms.
Example Nearby Share and cross-device experiences in Android apps span personal and communal:
- Complete a movie rental or purchase on your TV by using your phone to enter your form of payment.
- Start reading a long article on your phone and finish reading it on your tablet without losing where you are.
- Share a map location as a passenger directly with your friend’s car.
- Share your Sunday bike route with others that you’re biking with.
- Collect items for a group food order without having to pass your phone around.
To simplify the work to discover devices that can participate in a multi-device experience, we extracted the logic Nearby Share uses to discover and authorize devices and augmented it with additional capabilities so that your application can easily join devices in a shared experience while preserving user privacy.
In terms of implementation, the initial rollout of these developer capabilities will be through Google Play Services, but the plan is to add to AOSP starting with Android U. An early preview is coming in Q2 2022.
More Android at I/O 2022:
- Health Connect syncs data between Android fitness apps like Fitbit, Samsung Health, and more
- Here’s every device currently eligible for the Android 13 Beta
- Android Auto redesign brings split-screen mode to in-car displays of all sizes
- Android TV 13 will bring better picture-in-picture support, add new accessibility options
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