When Google was removing Android Beam in Android Q, there were many people who were upset by the news. The file transfer service used NFC to transfer files between devices, and although it was slow and rarely used, it still had its fans because of how widely available it was.
Google has pushed users toward the Files by Google app, but it now appears that the company is working on a new file-sharing tool. The tool, called Fast Share, is part of the Nearby service in Google Play Services and it looks to be not only an Android Beam replacement but also an Apple AirDrop competitor.
Fast Share was first recently spotted by 9to5Google, and the screenshots show that the new file-sharing tool will let you share to nearby devices without the Internet, much like Android Beam once did. But rather than using NFC, the service uses Bluetooth to initiate and then subsequently transfers files over a direct Wi-Fi connection. This will allow for larger files to be transferred much quicker than Android Beam
The activity currently shows generic share targets, including a Chromebook, a Google Pixel 3, an iPhone, and a smartwatch. Hopefully, the service will actually support sending files to Chrome OS devices, Apple iOS devices, and Wear OS smartwatches once it goes live, but we can’t say for sure just based on the presence of these generic share targets.
What is certain is that the service will support sending and receiving files to and from other Android devices with Google Play Services installed. Whether Fast Share will require a specific Android OS version is something that is also not confirmed yet. We would imagine that it’ll support most modern Android releases given that it only requires Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct support.
It looks like it’ll be a decent competitor to Apple’s AirDrop, but given its reliance on Google Play Services, some may be disappointed that it won’t be as accessible as Android Beam. Google is known to rip services out of Android Open Source Project and put them into Google Play Services, so this move shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, given how many Certified Android devices are on the market, it is likely to be a hard time finding a device that won’t support this new file sharing tool once it’s available.