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Google is about to copy AirDrop's best features for Android phones

nearby share
(Image credit: Google)

Not a day goes by where I don't use Apple's AirDrop to easily beam a photo from an iPhone to my MacBook Pro, where I can edit and upload the shot in order to post in in stories like this one. It'a a one-tap capability that's been unavailable to Android users until now, but it sounds like that could be changing shortly.

Android already offers an over-the-air way of sharing between devices called Nearby Share, which Google introduced in 2020. But one key difference between AirDrop and Nearby Share is the ease with which owners of Apple devices can share photos and files between the different devices they own — an iPhone and a MacBook, say.

However, Mishaal Rahman, a senior technical editor at Android device management company Esper, tweeted that a "self-share" mode for Nearby Share is included in the latest version of Google Play Services. Self-share will let you share files between devices logged into the same Google account without requiring an approval.

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Rahman's finding was originally spotted by Android Police.

Currently, when using Nearby Share, you're required to agree to approval receiving any incoming file. That's fine when it's a file from someone you may not know or trust — nobody needs to see those south-of-the-equator selfies, if you catch my drift — but rather inconvenient when all you want to do is send a file to another one of your devices. The way it's described by Rahman, it sounds as if Nearby Share will mimic my experience on AirPlay — I select a photo on my phone and it magically beams over to my computer without any further intervention required on my part.

Both devices will need to have Nearby Share enabled, and they'll both have to be signed into the same Google account to have the self-share feature work, according to reports. You'll also need the devices to be within a foot of each other, as required by Nearby Share's range.

It's unclear when this feature might appear, but we are less than a month away from Google I/O 2022. It's possible the feature could be announced during the keynote opening up the developer's conference on May 11 — if Google doesn't update Nearby Share before then.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.