Android’s AirDrop, Nearby Sharing, begins working in Chrome OS

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.

Nearby Sharing
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.

Image: Chrome Story

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:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Google — experts who break news about Google and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Google on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel



Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

Got a tip or want to chat? Twitter or Email.

Kyle Bradshaw's favorite gear