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Android 11 is finally getting a key feature iPhones have had for years

Published Mar 20th, 2020 9:12PM EDT
Android 11 Features
Image: quietbits/Shutterstock

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  • Android 11 may finally introduce an AirDrop-style feature. iPhone users have enjoyed AirDrop since iOS 7 but Google has been slow to release an equivalent feature for its large base of Android users.
  • AirDrop, in case you’re unfamiliar, lets users share extremely large files with other iOS and macOS devices in a ridiculously short amount of time. 
  • Notably, Google isn’t the only company working hard on emulating the ease of use AirDrop provides. Samsung is working on its own solution as well.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, he said that Apple set out to create a “leapfrog product” that was a good five years ahead of the competition. And with the benefit of hindsight, the iPhone was just that.

For years, the iPhone easily outclassed Android rivals across the board. Eventually, though, Android handset manufacturers like Samsung — bolstered by Google’s continuous efforts to improve Android itself — started churning out devices that could stand toe-to-toe with the iPhone. These days, the difference between an iPhone and a top of the line Android is smaller than ever.

Still, there are a few incredible iPhone features that simply aren’t yet available for Android, with AirDrop being a prime example. Originally introduced with iOS 7, AirDrop enables iPhone users to share incredibly large files with other Apple products in just seconds. Without exaggeration, any time I demonstrate AirDrop to Android users (or even iPhone users unaware of the feature), they’re completely blown away.

With that said, the good news is that AirDrop functionality is at long last coming to Android. Not only is Samsung working on an AirDrop-style feature it calls ‘Quick Share’, release notes from an Android 11 developer preview (via Engadget) reveal that Google is also working on a new solution of its own.

Google’s answer to AirDrop is a feature it calls Fast Share, and the release notes refer to it when discussing known issues with the Android update:

When sharing files with Fast Share between two Pixel 4 devices, the operation completes successfully, but the UI on the device which receives the file states that it did not receive the file.

Incidentally, you may recall that a video showing the feature in action surfaced online about two months ago. The video below shows the feature being used to transfer data between a Pixel 2 XL and a Pixel 4:

The implementation above looks slick and, much like iPhone users can do, Android users can choose if they want their device visible to all nearby users or only selected individuals from their contact list.

There’s no indication as to when Android 11 will be released, and with Google I/O cancelled as a result of the coronavirus, everything is up in the air. That said, Android 10 rolled out in September of 2019, which is to say that a September 2020 release date for Android 11 might be a safe bet.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.