WhatsApp on Android could soon let you share files with nearby friends

WhatsApp may receive its own version of Apple’s AirDrop as a recent Android beta shows hints that a file-sharing feature is in the works.

A post on WABetaInfo offers insight into the potential update. Like AirDrop, the feature only works between two people. Both users will need to have the software open to the tool and be “within close proximity” to exchange files. What’s particularly interesting about this file sharing is the receiving person will need to physically shake their smartphone to create a share request. 

WABetaInfo explains this is to maintain a “controlled approach to file exchanges” between contacts. It's similar to how AirDrop lets people configure its settings so they only receive content from trusted sources. However, the website claims it will be possible to share media with non-contacts on WhatsApp. Phone numbers will remain hidden in this situation to preserve anonymity.

And just like sending messaging on WhatsApp, file sharing is end-to-end encrypted according to the website, ensuring personal information and content being sent is protected from outside interference. 

Pending information

That’s pretty much all that is known about WhatsApp’s file-sharing feature. A lot of the finer details have yet to be revealed. 

It’s unknown exactly how sending media to non-contacts will work. Will all receiving users have to shake their device too or will Meta change its mind and throw out that step replacing it with a simple menu setting? Going back to AirDrop, Apple’s version lets you change the receiving setting to Everyone allowing non-contacts to accept content from you.

Additionally, we don’t know if there are any file-size limitations for shared files. The maximum size for sending media to group chats is 2GB at the moment. The upcoming feature will probably have a similar size although it would be nice to see Meta expand the limit. Considering that we live in a world where 4K videos exist, an expansion would be great to have.

No word on when this update will become available to beta testers. WABetaInfo states the tool is still under development, so a preview build doesn’t exist yet. If you’re interested in trying out the file-sharing feature once it’s ready, you can become a WhatsApp beta tester by joining the Google Play Beta Program. You may be one of the lucky few to gain access down the line.

Analysis: cross-platform sharing

One thing we would like to see is compatibility across different operating systems. Imagine being able to send files from an Android phone to an iOS device and vice versa. It would certainly give WhatsApp an edge over Quick Share.

If you’re not familiar, Google and Samsung recently entered a partnership that resulted in many new products and combining Nearby Share into Quick Share. Now Android users can use the function for quick file sharing, hence the name. Assuming Meta rolls out the update in its current state, it could cause a lot of confusion as people would arguably be receiving the same thing twice. Giving WhatsApp's tool cross-platform support would make it stand out considerably.

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Google Contacts on your Android can now show your friends’ real-time location

Google has quietly added a new module to its Contacts app on Android allowing users to see the location of friends and family in real-time.

It’s worth mentioning this function has been in the works for some time now – since late May when it was leaked by industry insider Nail Sadykov on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter). It took a little while, but now you can get this feature by installing Google Contacts version

According to Android Police who initially discovered this, the location-sharing banner will be powered by Google Maps, sitting between the contact options and the Contact Info section. Tapping it instantly “opens their location in [Maps]” where you can then get directions to them. Conversely, if a friend is heading towards you, you can set up notification alerts letting you know when they’ve arrived at your location.

You need to meet a couple of requirements to make this update work. First, you must have the other person’s Gmail address saved onto your copy of the app. Second, they must be actively sharing their location on Google Maps. If those two criteria are met, the banner will appear on the contact card. 

Setting up Location Sharing

Setting up the feature is easy. If you tap the profile picture on Google Maps, you will see the Location Sharing option in the menu. Select it, then hit the Share Location button on the following screen. After that, decide which of your contacts you want to share your real-time data with. Often, people will elect to temporarily show their location by picking out a time limit, but we recommend selecting “Until you turn this off” if you want people to find you. 

Google Maps' Location Sharing

(Image credit: Future)

Keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives as it may be rolling out in waves. We updated Google Contacts on our Android device, however, we didn’t see any changes. It could still be making its way to all users or we were just unlucky. 

Be sure to check out TechRadar's roundup of the 10 best Androids app of 2023 – according to Google.

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WhatsApp gets a new way to quiz your friends and plan nights out

Group chats in WhatsApp are used for all sort of things, from giving ways for distant members of the family to keep in touch, to helping people in real-world clubs and groups to contact each other easily. While the ability to chat, send photos, have video calls and so on are great, what has been lacking is the ability to create polls.

But this is set to change. If you've been looking for an easy way to see which restaurant you and your friends should go to, a way to vote on which design is best for your company logo, or countless other things, group chats in WhatsApp look like they are going to be gaining the long-missing polling option.

Spotted in the iOS version of the WhatsApp app by the ever-reliable WABetaInfo, we can see glimpses of a rudimentary poll creation interface that can be used to pose a question to member of a group chat. At this stage it's not clear quite how polls will look, or how customizable they will be, but we do know that they will be end-to-end encrypted.

Not for the first time, WhatsApp finds itself playing catch-up here. As welcome as the impending arrival of polls is, it is something that rival messaging apps have offered for quite some time. This does not, however, detract from the usefulness of the feature in any way, and it is something that it sure to prove popular and will be well-used whenever it does finally roll out.

Polling opinion

While at the moment, the poll option is only visible in the beta version of the WhatsApp app for iOS, it would be quite surprising if the very same option did not also make its way to Android. That said, WhatsApp is no stranger to giving iOS and Android users the same options at different times.

And speaking of staggered rollouts, it seems that Android users could be in line to gain access to a WhatApp feature that is already available to iOS users. In the redesigned drawing editor, iOS users have been able to use a blur tool to obscure private information in photos, making sensitive data unintelligible

WABetaInfo has spotted the same tool popping up in beta versions of the Android app, bringing the two platforms closer together in terms of features. For both this bur tool and the up-coming polling option, there is no hint about when the rollout is planned, so it is just a case of waiting patiently for WhatsApp to continue development and then flip the necessary switch.

Via WABetaInfo

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