Google’s Nearby Share will soon support group transfers: Here’s a first look

Last month, we reported that Google is preparing to upgrade Nearby Share, Android’s alternative to Apple’s AirDrop file transferring service, with the ability to share files to multiple people at once. We also reported that Google is changing the feature’s device visibility policy to allow you to share files with anyone nearby rather than only with nearby contacts. With Google Play Services version 21.15.12, we’ve managed to get the group transfer feature working, and we’ve also spotted a few changes to the device visibility policy settings.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Group transfers in Nearby Share

As we previously reported, Nearby Share will support connecting to a maximum of four other devices but can only transfer files one device at a time. When we first saw hints of group transfer support coming to Nearby Share, we couldn’t get the feature working. After upgrading to version 21.15.12 of Google Play Services, it seems the feature now finally works. Here’s a video of me transferring some files from a Google Pixel 4 to an ASUS ROG Phone 5, OnePlus 9 Pro, and LG Velvet.

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As you can see, I’m able to select multiple devices to share the files to. However, I had to manually approve the file transfer in the order in which I selected devices. That could change when the feature is released since I only enabled group transfers on the Pixel 4 and not the other devices. The other phones did have Google Play Services 21.15.12 installed, but I’m not sure if that’s necessary.

Share with “everyone” nearby

Another feature we’re anticipating is a change to device visibility. Instead of limiting you to sharing with “all contacts” nearby, Nearby Share will soon let you share files with “everyone” nearby. In order to prevent abuse, there’s a toggle to “use everyone mode temporarily” which automatically switches the device visibility back to “all contacts” after a few minutes (currently set to 5 minutes). In Google Play Services 21.15.12, there’s also another toggle called “keep everyone mode on all the time” which does exactly what it says.

Functionally, nothing here has changed from what we saw in the previous release, but splitting the “everyone mode” visibility setting into two, clear preferences will ensure that people have the right visibility setting enabled.


That’s all we’ve found so far in the latest version of Google Play Services. These upgrades to Nearby Share haven’t started rolling out yet, but seeing as they’re nearly fully functional, we can’t imagine it’ll take too much longer for them to make a public appearance.

Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.

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