September 26, 2023

Google’s “Nearby Share” now supports Windows, simplifying file sharing

With Android and Windows, Google enters a crowded and cutthroat market. Google has released a new Windows program that brings the “Nearby Share” functionality of Android to desktop computers. Google claims their new application will make it simpler to transfer files between Windows and Android devices with just a few taps and clicks.

Google’s Nearby Share has been part of Android for a while now, and it enables local file sharing over Wi-Fi after an initial Bluetooth connection. Since most people nowadays use the Internet to exchange files, using near-by share has proven to be a bit of a challenge in practice. When it comes to personal use, however, most individuals only have one Android device—their phone—which means they have no one to exchange data with. However, many Android users don’t have a Windows PC, so this will be the first time Nearby Share is useful for them.

The software is simple to operate. It’s easy to install after downloading it from the Android website and clicking a few “next” icons. A 64-bit Windows PC (not ARM) with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is required. Sharing is as simple as dragging and dropping on Windows or using the “share” icon on Android and selecting “Nearby Share” from this screen. You can choose whether or not to log in to the Windows program. If you don’t, every purchase will require your personal approval via phone and computer. After logging in, you can choose to automatically accept invitations from yourself, people in your address book, or everyone.

Google claims that you can “transfer photos, videos, documents, audio files, or entire folders between your Android device and Windows PC.” We tested it out, and everything worked out well. It’s simple and rapid, as fast as a Wi-Fi connection.

In an unexpectedly crowded market, Google’s Nearby Share aims to improve the compatibility between your Windows PC and Android phone. Sync-style applications, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, make it easy to transfer files between your personal computers with a minimum of fuss. When using Nearby Share, “both devices must be unlocked, within close proximity, and have Bluetooth turned on,” which isn’t the case when syncing apps.

For my personal computers, I use the self-hosted SyncThing because it syncs data in the background to both my phone and my computer. Although there are third-party applications that can do so, neither Dropbox nor Google Drive will automatically download files to your phone; they only sync between computers. You can save a lot of time and effort on a daily basis by using one of these always-on, automatic syncing settings to keep all of your data in sync across all of your devices.

Microsoft’s environment also offers solutions for integrating mobile devices with desktop computers. For almost seven years, Microsoft has been selling Windows-Android hybrid systems. Link to Windows/Phone Link is that company’s newest product. (it weirdly has different names on Android and Windows). Not only can you send and receive files with ease, but you can also check and respond to notifications, run mobile applications on your computer, and make phone calls. Again, this is only useful for linking two of your own devices, but it works quite well for that!

A Windows-Android program is included in some Android skins. One is Microsoft’s answer, and another is Lenovo/Motorola’s “Ready For.”

If all you need is access to files, then Nearby Share doesn’t seem like the ideal option for your personal computers. The best use case for Nearby Share is when you need to transfer a large file to a machine that is not your own as soon as possible. The app is easy to set up, and while signing in is an option, it’s not required; instead, you can simply use the app in “guest mode,” where each transfer requires its own permission. Although Nearby Share was designed for file sharing between Android devices, it can also be used on Windows if you know someone else who would be interested in a local file exchange.

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