3 Cool Uses for Google's Mysterious Sound Sharing 'Nearby' Feature
Google has an intriguing new feature called Nearby that lets users share content without being on the same Wi-Fi network, or without even exchanging contact info first. Instead, the function uses an array of standard smartphone features, as well as subsonic sound, to identify other devices that are in the room, then makes a secure connection to transfer any data.
Nearby is actually compatible with both Android and iOS, but in these early stages of development, the vast majority of apps with Nearby capabilities are Android-only. And because there's no better way to explain something than by demonstrating, I'll go over three inventive Android apps that already utilize Nearby, and hopefully you'll find a great way to put this interesting feature to use.
Share Podcasts with Pocket Casts
Our first example is a paid app, but it's one that many podcast listeners have already purchased, and it demonstrates the usefulness of Google's Nearby feature quite well. Pocket Casts uses this technology as an easy way to share your favorite podcasts with friends, and it's a great implementation.
Picture a scenario where your friends and fellow Pocket Casts users are visiting, and everyone starts talking about their favorite podcasts. As long as everybody has Pocket Casts installed on their devices, simply instruct them all to head to the Nearby tab in the app, where you'll be prompted to allow access for the service. Once that's been done, everyone will instantly see a list of the group's collective podcast subscriptions, where you can simply tap the + button to subscribe.
Share Android Apps with App Links
The second example we have for you is an app called App Links, which uses Google's Nearby feature to make it easy for two or more people in the same room to share their favorite apps with each other.
When you launch the app, you'll see a list of all the apps that are installed on your device. To share some of your favorites, just select them from the list, then tap the Nearby icon at the top of your screen. Have your friend do the same on their device, then within a few seconds, each person will see a list of the other's recommended apps, and the entries can be tapped to head to the Play Store install page.
Share Contact Info with Card Case
Our last example is an app called Card Case, and it uses Nearby to make it easy for a group of people to exchange contact info, which would be perfect for a business meeting.
Upon launching the app, you'll be asked to set up a contact card. From here, provided that all people involved have done the same, the group simply needs to tap the Nearby button in the bottom-right corner on each of their phones, then everyone's contact cards will be visible in a list. This list will automatically sync with each device, so there's no need to exchange business cards.
As you can tell, Nearby sets itself apart from other similar features like Android Beam and Pushbullet by not requiring any special hardware, and giving users the ability to share content without having to exchange contact info first. Its blend of subsonic audio pairing and the use of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct makes it seem like sci-fi magic, but hopefully we'll start to see some more apps putting it to use quite soon.