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Android 11 beta will feature Google’s version of a popular iPhone feature

Published Jun 16th, 2020 7:31AM EDT
Android 11 Beta
Image: quietbits/Shutterstock

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  • Android 11 beta includes a feature that many people have been asking for, a file-sharing option that allows users to share content with people nearby.
  • The Share user interface contains a Nearby button that allows people to quickly share photos, documents, and links with people or devices close to the user.
  • The feature might be similar to what’s already available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. AirDrop lets users share files wirelessly between iOS and macOS devices in close proximity.

Google last week released the first public beta of Android 11, which can be installed on any supported devices right now, including the Pixel 4 and other compatible handsets. We already know what to expect from Google’s next major Android release, and the operating system will not provide any revolutionary features. However, there are plenty of neat improvements in Android 11 that will fans will immediately observe. One of them concerns notifications, which now focus on people more than anything else. In fact, the new Conversations section of the notifications screen is something that would work great on the iPhone as well. Android 11 will also pack a few features that are inspired by iOS. The now media controls and the screenshots features are two of them, but it’s the third one that fans will appreciate most. Android 11 finally brings to Android a feature that’s been available on iPhone for years. That’s the ability to share files with people and devices around you that iPhone and Mac users know as AirDrop.

Google is releasing new videos about Android 11 for developers, and the newest one talks about the Conversations notifications that we addressed before. In it, there’s a screenshot of Google’s AirDrop alternative that seems to indicate Android 11 will indeed let you share photos, documents, and links with contacts around you.

Android 11 Beta
Android 11 beta features from Google demos. Image source: Google via 9to5Google

As seen in the second screenshot in the series of images above, there’s a new Share screen that pops up when you want to share content with others. The user interface has a Copy button, as well as a Nearby button complete with a new icon of its own.

In previous images, Nearby was an icon in the grid. According to 9to5Google, the elevation to the top row indicates a deeper system-level integration of the feature. In other words, it seems very likely that the Nearby feature will be included in the final version of Android 11. At the same time, we’ll have to remind you that not all the functionalities tested in a beta version of Android will necessarily make it in this year’s release, and the screen recording feature is one such reminder.

It’s unclear at this time whether Nearby will work with Chrome and Windows devices. What’s excellent about AirDrop is that it allows users who own multiple iOS and macOS products to easily share files between them. You can transfer all sorts of files and links from iPhone to iPad, and from iOS to Mac, and the other way around, making it a lot easier to manage file sharing.

Similarly, you can share content with anyone around you who operates an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, as long as both devices have AirDrop enable. Apple is reportedly beefing up the feature to offer faster, more reliable transfer speeds over short distances in the future. And a variation of AirDrop will be a key feature of the breakthrough iPhone of the near future, the kind of devices that will not feature any kind of ports. Apple is probably not the only company planning to release devices with no ports, and Google will likely have its own portless Pixels in stores in the coming years. For that to happen, Google needs its own version of AirDrop operational on Android devices.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.