Android’s Find My Device trackers are missing one big AirTags feature, but that could soon change

Google's upgraded Find My Device network is slowly rolling out globally to help Android fans find their lost belongings. And it seems that Google is already planning to add a key feature that the network lacks compared to Apple's AirTags – support for UWB (ultra-wideband) tech.

UWB is one of the main technologies that powers Apple AirTags' Precision Finding feature (below). That feature gives you directions, down to a few feet, to where your lost keys are. But Google's Find My Device network doesn't currently support the tech – even though many of the best Android phones now support ultra-wideband. 

While that oversight means that the first wave of Find My Device trackers lacks the feature, Google appears to have plans to fill the gap. As spotted by Android Authority, some code references in the latest version of the Find My Device app suggest that Google is working on adding UWB to its new network.

That doesn't necessarily mean that Google is planning to bring the feature to Find My Device soon, but it is a promising sign. And it might not be the only new feature in the pipeline for the network – another code reference points to AR (augmented reality) features via the ARCore software development kit (SDK).

In theory, that could tie in nicely with the UWB support, with a camera UI visually showing you how to track down your lost valuables. That would be a very Google integration with echoes of Google Lens, but for now, its Find My Device network lags behind its Apple rival in one small but useful area.

A nudge in the right direction

An iPhone showing the Precision Finding feature of Apple AirTags

(Image credit: Apple)

The lack of UWB support on Google's Find My Device network certainly isn't a deal-breaker for the early trackers that are available now from the likes of Chipolo and Pebblebee.

Like Apple's Find My network, Google's new network anonymously leverages millions of phones worldwide to help you locate lost items. You can attach the trackers, which come in tag and card form, to valuables and tap to 'play sounds' in the app to trigger a sound or get the tracker to emit an LED flash.

Both things help compensate for the lack of a visual Precision Finding feature like the one you get with AirTags. But those visual cues can still be very handy if you can't quite tell where the sound is coming from, and Apple's integration also gives you increasingly powerful vibrations alongside the UWB-powered directions.

Then again, UWB is only really helpful at very short range, so it only really becomes a benefit when you're in the same room as your lost item. So while it's certainly a nice-to-have that will hopefully come to the Find My Device, Google's rebooted network and the new trackers that support it are still a big upgrade from what was available before on Android.

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Android’s Nearby Share boost means it’s almost a match for Apple’s AirDrop

Nearby Share on Android has received a major upgrade, giving you the ability to send entire folders to other devices.

This feature was recently discovered by industry insider and tech journalist Mishaal Rahman who shared his findings on X (or Twitter, if you prefer the older, less obtuse name). Rahman states you’re able to transfer folders from one Android phone to another as well as to Chromebooks and Windows PCs via the Files by Google app. He says that all you have to do is long-press any folder within Google Files and then select the Nearby Share icon on-screen. From there, you will see all of the connected devices which can accept the transfer. Pretty simple stuff.

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There are some limitations to be aware of. Tom’s Guide states in their report, “Nearby Share has a 1,000-file limit”, so folders can’t be too big. Another piece from Android Police reveals the upgrade is exclusive to Google Files as it doesn’t seem to work properly with Samsung’s own file manager. Files will still be shared on Samsung's app, but it won’t retain the folder structure, according to Rahman.

What’s interesting is there’s a good chance you already have this feature if your device has Google Files. Rahman says that Nail Sadykov, another notable industry insider, claims “the earliest he saw someone mention it was back in May” of this year. It’s just that no one knew about it until very recently. Apparently, Google didn’t give anyone the heads-up.

So, if you have Google Files on your phone and haven’t updated it in a while, we recommend downloading the patch to get the boosted Nearby Share.

Closing the gap

Admittedly, it’s a small update, but an important one as it allows Nearby Share to close the gap a bit between it and Apple’s AirDrop. Android users will save a lot of time since they won’t be forced to transfer files one by one. It’s a function iPhone owners have enjoyed for many years now. It’s hard to say exactly when AirDrop first gained the ability to send folders to Macs. The oldest instance we could find was one of our How-to guides from 2015.

However, Nearby Share still has a long way to go before it can be considered a proper rival to AirDrop. For iOS 17, Apple plans on further enhancing its wireless file transfer tool by introducing new features like Contact Posters for friends plus improved security for unsolicited images.

If you’re looking for other management options besides Google Files, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best file transfer software for 2023

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Android’s answer to AirDrop is finally coming to your Windows PC

Google’s answer to Apple’s AirDrop just got a big upgrade with the launch of its Nearby Share for Windows PC app beta.

Just like how you use AirDrop, Nearby Share lets you quickly and easily share files between nearby Android devices. This feature tends to be quicker than sending files via an email or Google Drive link, and is simpler than trying to transfer them over a typical Bluetooth connection. 

Nearby Share just got a lot better, however, as it now lets you do more than just ping files between the best Android phones, tablets, and best Chromebooks – you can now send files to your Windows PC, too. The introduction of the Nearby Share for Windows beta gives the feature a serious boost over AirDrop, as Apple’s feature is locked to its ecosystem of iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

Best of all, you can join the beta right now and start sharing your phone files via the new Nearby Share for Windows app in no time.

A phone sending a file to a PC, then sending that file to another phone

(Image credit: Google)

How to download Nearby Share for Windows 

Unlike other recent Google betas – like the Google Bard beta – where you have to sign up and wait to be given access, you can get started with Nearby Share for Windows right now if you want.

You’ll first want to head to Google’s official page, and there you should see a “Get started” button near the top. Click and you’ll download the installation file for the Nearby Share PC tool – open it to begin the installation process.

Once the installation is complete, you should see a window pop up that asks you to sign in to Google and set your Nearby Share preferences. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be ready to share files using Nerby Share with your computer; if you ever need to tweak your settings, you can click the gear icon in the Nearby Share Windows app to change settings like your PC’s name, where files get sent to and its visibility to other devices.

There are a few limitations to what PCs can support Nearby Share – it’ll need to be running Windows 10 or later and it’ll need to support Bluetooth.

Elsewhere, Google isn't only gaining on Apple in the file-sharing world, its Google AirTags could take over the world, too. 

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