The iOS vs. Android debate is perhaps one tech. debate that will never come to an end. I believe that each system, and ecosystem has its own user demographic. Neither one is perfect, and that’s okay. Each has great features that are loved by those who use them.
One specific feature on iOS and Apple’s operating systems is AirDrop. Ask anyone who has ever used it and they’ll tell you its a lifesaver. Being able to send files between your devices instantly, without set up or hassle is a magical experience.
And now, thanks to Google, that same magical experience is coming to Android.
Google announced today a new feature called “Nearby Sharing,” that does exactly what it says and allows users to share files, photos, videos, and more between devices. Unlike Apple’s unified OS rollout system, Android remains heavily fragmented. The feature is available on some Pixel and Samsung handsets, with Google promising support for others “in the coming weeks”.
To use it users simply press the Nearby Sharing button anywhere there is a share sheet, wait for a device to appear, press it, and the data is transferred. Sound similar? A side effect of Android’s fragmented family where not all devices are running the same Android version is the possibility that someone wants to share something, but the other person doesn’t have a supported device.
In many ways that defeats the purpose, for now. Until Google is able to provide the feature to a wide enough variety of Android devices, it’ll be very hard for the feature to pick up any mainstream momentum. In Google’s defense, the feature does have the ability to share content anonymously, a feature AirDrop lacks.
Currently, Nearby Sharing only works between Android devices, but not iOS, Macs, or Windows. A Google spokesperson told The Verge that it hopes to expand the feature to additional platforms in the future, leaving the door for iOS support wide open.
Even if iOS does get supported, it’ll be hard to implement. Users would need to have some sort of app open, and remain open for the content to be transferred, unlike having it work in the background like AirDrop. That’s thanks to Apple’s strict control of the system and the sandbox.