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How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

If you have a file like a photo, video or document on your Android phone that you want to share with someone else that happens to be physically next to you, there’s a simple way to accomplish this task. It’s called Android Beam, and the feature works pretty much how its title suggests.

With this simple tech, you can ‘beam’ files to your friends and family, though both phones involved in the transfer must have NFC (Near-Field Communication) hardware for it to work.

Check for Android Beam and NFC hardware on your phone

Android Beam itself has been part of the Android OS since version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) launched, so it’s more than likely that your smartphone or tablet has that version, or higher, of the OS installed. However, your device may not have NFC hardware, or if it does, it may be turned off by your specific wireless carrier. You need to make sure your device has working NFC support, along with your friend’s phone, for Android Beam transfers to work.

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to check for these features. Just go into your phone or tablet’s Settings and then tap “More” in the Wireless & Networks selection. If NFC is enabled you should see a slider that can turn it on or off on your phone. If you want to make sure Android Beam is working, you can also go to its specific feature in the Settings menu as well and turn it on or off.

You should then be ready to transfer some files with your friend’s phone (again, if he or she also has Android Beam and NFC support).

Time to transfer files with Android Beam

Assuming both Android Beam and NFC are now set up on both phones, the transfer process for files can begin. All you and your friend have to do is to place those devices back to back against each other. Then you check out if the content you want to transfer to the other phone is on your screen. If it can be moved to the other phone, you should see a “Touch to Beam” caption on top.

Then all you have to do is just touch the screen and that content, such as a photo, video or word document, will quickly transfer from your phone to the other device, using NFC and a Bluetooth connection. You should get a confirmation sound if the transfer was completed successfully, and there will be a more negative sound if the transfer has failed for some reason.

Keep in mind that the transfer between the two devices is just one way; if your friend wants to move a piece of content to your phone, he or she must make their own Android Beam connection to your device and repeat the same steps you just did.

What is S Beam?

There is another similar technology that was enabled for a few older Samsung smartphones, such as the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2, a few years ago. It’s called S Beam, and unlike Android Beam, it used the NFC hardware in those phones to establish a transfer of files via a Wi-Fi Direct connection, instead of Bluetooth. This technology was supposed to be faster than Android Beam for moving files. Otherwise, it transfered content in exactly the same way as Google’s method. Since only a few older Samsung smartphones and tablets used S Beam, it’s highly unlikely your phone supports this technology.

Conclusion

While there are plenty of other methods for phone owners to transfer pictures, videos and other content to anyone else they want (messaging, cloud servers, etc), there is still something kind of cool, even futuristic, about just touching two phones together, back to back, to make that transfer happen. That’s just what Android Beam does.

If you have used Android Beam in the past, did you feel it worked as expected? Did you have any issues with the feature? Let us know in the comments!

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In this article, you’ll be learning how does Android Beam work so you can take advantage of it when you want to exchange information between two phones.

What is Android Beam

Android Beam was introduced back in Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). It is a feature that uses NFC technology to wirelessly transfer data between two compatible Android phones or tablets.

According to Google representatives, it is an Android feature that enables just about any type of proximity-based interaction.

It is a short-range connection, meaning both devices should be together, back-to-back. The sender’s device screen must display which files are to be shared and the receiver will be presented with the option to accept or deny the file transfer. You can use Android Beam to share directions between smartphones, website links, photos, videos, and other media.

Now that you know what is Android Beam, let’s have a more in-depth look at this technology.

What is Android Beam App

The Android Beam app lets you send directions, webpage links, contact info, photos, videos, and even navigation directions to another NFC phone or tablet.

There are some Android Beam apps available for download in the Google Play Store. Some will require payment but others are free to use.

What is Android Beaming Service

Android Beaming Service

Sometimes it can be time-consuming just to share a couple of files between two phones. Android Beaming Service is designed to provide access to file transfer without the need of pairing both devices via Bluetooth or even by an external cable. That enables a quick and effective way to connect two devices.

What is Android Beam Function

Its main function is to quickly transfer files and other content to a second phone or tablet as long as it features NFC and it is running Android 4.0 or newer.

What does Android Beaming Service do

Beam is designed to be exceedingly easy and quick to use. For instance, if you want to share some pictures, a video, or even a Google Maps direction with a friend, you can instantly share those directions with Beam. You just need to pair your phone to your friends, and a “Touch to Beam” prompt appears on your screen.

How to do Android Beam

The first and most important thing before going any further is to check whether your smartphone or tablet supports NFC. This can be found within the Connectivity Settings menu, alongside Wi-Fi and Mobile Data. Also, it needs to be running at least Android 4.0 (or newer), to support Android Beam.

Can Android Beam to iPhone

Yes, it is possible to quickly and easily transfer data from Android to an iPhone. There are a lot of apps that are designed to serve exactly the purpose of transferring data, not via NFC but via Wi-Fi from two different operating systems: Android and iOS.

You just need to download the appropriate application both from the Google Play Store and from the Apple Store. You have some free apps available like Zapya, that will do the job.

Android Beam to PC

If your computer is connected to a local wireless network, one of the easiest ways to transfer files to an Android device and vice-versa is to set up wireless transfer. These services specialize in porting information through your wireless network and onto a mobile device. Once you set it up, it is a simple and quick way to transfer data between your phone and your personal computer.

Android Beam for PC

There are some apps you can install on your phone to connect to your Windows 10 PC via Wi-Fi. Even Microsoft has a dedicated app for the purpose: Your Phone Companion – Link to Windows. There are also third-party apps available that will do the job.

How to Use Android Beam

To transfer data between two Android devices, you should take the following procedures:

  • Start by checking your device’s NFC support. Go to Settings > Connected Devices and then select the Connection Preferences option. If you find an NFC option, it means your device supports it. Then, you just have to tick the switch next to NFC to enable it. Under the Connection Preferences menu, you may also find an Android Beam option. Select it and tick the switch to On to enable Android Beam.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devicesHow to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

  • After enabling NFC, you just need to select the data you want to transfer to the other Android device.
  • In this final step, just displace both devices together, back-to-back, with the content you want to share displayed on the screen to activate Android Beam. If it’s able to be sent, the screen of the source phone will shrink down and a “Tap to Beam” text will display at the top. Now you just need to confirm the content transfer. Once the files transferring done, a warning confirmation tone will play. If for some reason, the transfer has failed, a more negative sound will play.

Android Beam file location

Android Beam WiFi password

You can also use Android Beam to share your Wi-Fi password with your friends or guests. Anyone who turns up at your house will be able to connect to your network without effort with the Android Beam WiFi password.

You just need to download InstaWifi through the Play Store. Then enter your network information and tap Write to Tag (with the tag in close proximity) to complete the job. Any of your guests with an NFC-equipped Android device can then simply tap the tag as they walk by to get connected to your local Wi-Fi.

Wrap Up

Since its inception, Android Beam has been growing as an easy and quick way to transfer data between Android Phones. Also, NFC is getting more popular nowadays and covering a bunch of mid-range to high-end phones as a standard feature.

In this article, you get a clarified explanation on how does Android Beam work, how to use Android Beam it and some of its great features and capabilities.

Don’t forget to check out our other useful resources:

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

Our mobile devices have made a lot of things easier for us. Today, we can transfer files and other contents from one device to another wirelessly. And if your device is NFC-capable, it doesn’t even need to be connected to the Internet to be able to send files to another NFC-equipped device. It is made possible and efficient by Android Beam.

What Are NFC and Android Beam?

Android Beam is an exclusive Android feature that allows device-to-device data transfer via Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC is a set of communication protocols that enable short-range communication between compatible devices — and with short-range we mean within a 4-centimeter distance. This technology requires one transmitting device and one receiver. So far, the most widely available and common NFC devices are, you guessed it – smartphones.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

Android Beam is Google’s way to facilitate data transfer via NFC. First introduced in 2011, the Android Beam app lets you send contact info, webpage links, photos, videos, and even navigation directions to another NFC device.

Sharing via Android Beam: The Basic Requirement

There are two methods for sharing via Android Beam, and naturally, they both require that NFC is enabled. Once NFC is turned on, Android Beam will also be activated automatically.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

Go to your phone’s Settings. The exact location of NFC varies from device-to-device. It could be listed in the main Settings page or hidden inside another option. For instance, in a Nexus, it may be found in Settings > More. Meanwhile, in a Samsung Galaxy, it’s usually in Settings > NFC & Payment.

How to Use Android Beam Method 1: Touch to Beam

It is the most common and fastest method for using Android Beam. It involves placing the two devices back-to-back of each other. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  • Make sure your NFC feature is enabled on both devices and that they are unlocked.
  • On one device, open the link or file you want to share.
  • Position the two devices back-to-back.
  • You should see the content of the transmitting device’s screen shrink. The text at the top saying, “Touch to beam” will be revealed.
  • Tap the screen of the transmitting device to initiate the transfer.
  • You will hear a beep on the receiving device.
  • Once the transfer is successful, the receiver will now be able to see the transferred file or link. This method is best for sharing photos, contact info, map directions, website pages, and YouTube videos.

How to Use Android Beam Method 2: Via File Sharing Menu

Some files and links can’t be shared via Android Beam’s Touch to Beam feature, but don’t worry. This second method is precisely for those types of files.

  • First, make sure that the file browser app you’re using allows sharing through Android Beam.
  • Select and open the file or link you want to share. Press and hold until the options are revealed.
  • Tap Share, then tap Android Beam.
  • You will then hear a beep. The screen’s content will shrink.
  • See to it that the receiving device is unlocked. Then, place the two devices back-to-back. (No need to tap the screen of the transmitting device.)
  • After a successful transfer, you’ll hear a beep on the receiving device and a notification that says, “Beam complete” will appear. Tap the notification to open the shared file or link. This method works for any file type, including MP3s and video clips.

To make sure that your device doesn’t lag when transferring data and you always have sufficient storage space, download and install Android cleaner tool. This app is designed to effectively and efficiently clean out junk files on your device, as well as boost its RAM and extend its battery for up to two hours.

Android Beam is one of those features that makes you look at technology in awe, wondering how exactly something like that works.

From a user’s standpoint, you simply bring two devices together back to back, and what you’re seeing on one screen almost immediately appears on the other. Behind the scenes, though, a technology called NFC initiates an impromptu Bluetooth pairing between the devices, which is then used to wirelessly transfer data.

Considering that this feature is included in almost every Android device that was manufactured within the last 4 years, it’s less of a gimmick than you might think. You can use Android Beam to instantly send pictures, map directions, websites, online videos, MP3s, and a whole slew of additional file types, so I’ll give you the full rundown below.

Android Beam Background Info

For most devices, there are actually two different ways that you can use Android Beam. First is the “Touch to Beam” feature—when viewing a compatible link or file on one device, you can simply touch the back of the phone to the back of another device, then tap your screen to beam the content over. This works best for sharing websites, YouTube videos, pictures, map directions, or contact information.

The second method involves using Android’s share menu, which is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to share almost any file type over Android Beam, which comes in handy when you want to send your friend an MP3, a short video clip, or any other type of file that isn’t natively supported by the “Touch to Beam” feature.

Both of these methods will require that the NFC feature is enabled on each device, which should be turned on by default, but may require a trip into the phone’s main settings menu to enable. The location of this setting will vary depending on your device, so I’d suggest using the search feature to look for an option titled simply “NFC,” then make sure to enable it.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

Method 1: Touch to Beam

The “Touch to Beam” feature is probably the most common method for using Android Beam, so we’ll start there.

When you’re actively viewing an image, a supported link, or a file on your phone, make sure that your friend’s Android device is turned on and unlocked, then bring the two devices together back to back. You’ll hear a beep, then the contents of your screen will shrink away, exposing text at the top that says “Touch to beam.”

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

From here, simply tap your screen to send the content over to your friend’s phone or tablet—that’s all there is to it. In fact, you can move the devices away from one another at this point since the rest of the transfer will be handled by the longer-range Bluetooth connection. On their end, a confirmation beep will be heard, then the link or file will automatically open in the associated app on their device.

Method 2: Share a File via Android Beam

If you’ve come across a link or file type that Android Beam can’t natively share using the “Touch to Beam” feature, you’re not out of luck yet. Provided your device is running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher, you can manually send almost any file type using Android Beam.

To use this method, you’ll have to have an app that is capable of sharing the file you’re trying to beam. For most uses (MP3s, GIFs, etc.), any file browser app should do the trick.

To begin, simply select or long-press the file you’re trying to beam in your file browser app, then choose the “Share” option. From here, tap the “Android Beam” entry that you’ll find in the share menu, then you’ll hear a beep and the contents of your screen will shrink away.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

At this point, make sure your friend’s phone is turned on and unlocked, then simply touch the backs of the two devices together. There’s no need to tap the screen when you initiate the Android Beam function this way—instead, you’ll immediately hear a confirmation beep and the file will be transferred to your friend’s device.

When the file has finished downloading, your friend will receive a notification that says “Beam complete”—simply tap this notification to open the file on the other device.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

Which of the two Android Beam methods have you found to be more useful so far? Let us know in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Android Hacks’ Facebook or Twitter, or Gadget Hacks’ Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

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How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

These days most smartphones, including Androids, are equipped with near-field communication technology, known as NFC.

The tech itself is pretty cool — it’s like having an antenna in your phone that can help securely verify and send data.

Android’s proprietary NFC software, called Beam, can be used as a secure way to make payments or transfer data between Android phones.

However, be aware that not all Android devices can use Beam.

Here how to check if your phone can use Beam, and how to enable and use it.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Samsung Galaxy S10 (From $699.99 at Walmart)

How to enable Android Beam

1. On your Android’s home screen, swipe down from the top of the screen to open the main options menu.

2. Tap the gear icon in the bottom-right of the menu. This will open your phone’s Settings app.

3. Open the “Connected devices” tab.

4. Tap “Connection preferences.”

5. Near the top, you’ll see “NFC.” Toggle the slider so that it goes from gray to green.

6. Only when NFC is toggled on will you be allowed to enable Android Beam. Double-check that it is by tapping the Android Beam tab, and toggle the slider to “On” if it isn’t already.

How to use Android Beam to send content to another Android

1. Make sure both Androids are unlocked, and have Android Beam enabled. Open the content you want to send.

2. Physically touch the phones to each other. You may need to place them back-to-back.

3. The content you want to beam will shrink to a smaller window, and you’ll see the message “Tap to Beam.” Tap the screen.

And just like that, the content will be zipped over to the other Android.

Recently, the majority of Android phone manufactures have enabled their products with NFC function, which may be a little strange for many users. Then what is NFC in mobile phone? NFC, the short for “Near Filed Communication”, is a new method to wirelessly share information between two devices within 4 cm. It is widely applied to data transfer, wireless payment, transit ticket and so on. Next, this article will talk about how to use NFC to transfer files in detail.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

Do you have NFC?

Before learning about NFC uses, please make sure that your device has NFC. Generally speaking, there are two means to check it. First, you can check for the printed “N” symbol on your device. Some devices print on battery pack and some on backplate. Or you can directly open the “Settings” app and tap on “More” to find the NFC option.

How to use NFC on Android?

Using NFC to transfer files is a very straightforward process, and remember to activate the NFC function by “Settings” > “More” > “NFC” > “On” first. Once the NFC and Android Beam are switched on, you can share content with NFC following the next steps:

  1. Open the contacts, photos, videos or other files you wish to transfer on one of your Android devices.
  2. Place your Android devices back to back, and the source device will vibrate or make a sound once they are connected.
  3. Then the interface of source device will shrink and display “Tap to beam” or “Touch to beam” on the top. Please touch the screen lightly.
  4. The interface will recover to normal size after the file has been sent successfully. Then you can check it on the destination device and transfer next file.

How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

Note:

  1. NFC doesn’t transfer apps’ APK directly, and the source device just sends the app’s Play Store Page. Then the destination device will open it and get prepared to download.
  2. When transferring a contact with NFC, the destination device will pop up a window to ask users to save the contact in Contact app or other appropriate accounts. Just make your choice.

NFC not working?

Transferring files with NFC is quite convenient and practical, right? However, it can also fail sometimes. What if the NFC doesn’t work? Don’t worry. You can fix the NFC not working issue by resetting the NFC option, clearing your cache partition or booting your device to safe mode.

If above tips still cut no ice, then you are suggested to transfer your files with a professional third-party phone transfer tool – Jihosoft Phone Transfer, which can help to transfer contacts, call logs, text messages, photos, videos, musics, calendar and more between Android and iOS devices in one click. Therefore, it’s considered as an optimally alternative solution for NFC.

If your friend’s phone is chock-full of amazing movies, you have probably looked for a way to get them in your Android phone. Well there are many in-built options by which you can transfer files (such as images, documents, videos and apps) between two Android smartphones quickly.

Send files via Bluetooth

Although sending files via Bluetooth is a little bit old-fashioned but it’s also one of the best and easy way. You may already know it very well that how to send files over Bluetooth. Here’s a step-by-step guide –

  1. Turn on Bluetooth: First if all, you have to turn on the Bluetooth option in both the Android phones. Just go to “Settings > Bluetooth” and then switch on the button at the top-right corner of the screen. Alternatively, you can turn it on from the phone’s notification tab.
  2. Pair both devices: Next you have to start the pairing process. Make both the phone visible to everyone and then pair them with each other. Some manufacturer’s may ask for the security key.
  3. Send files via Bluetooth: First open the File Manager app (e.g, ES Explorer, Astro or use phone’s built-in file manager) and select the files you wish to transfer. After that, click the menu button and then click “Share” or “Send” option. From the list, tap “Bluetooth” and then select the paired phone.
  4. Accept files: Now accept the files in receiving phone to start the data transfer and that’s it.

Once you have received all the files, make sure to turn off the Bluetooth option in both Android phones as it may drain your phone’s battery life. There are few major drawbacks of using Bluetooth as your primary choice.

For example, you can’t send large files (say more than 1GB) using this method. It may take hours of time to send such a big file. And the most annoying thing is that, the speed is very slow in Bluetooth. Furthermore, it works in a particular range only (generally less than 10 meters) and after this limit, either the speed gets more slow or the devices are disconnected completely.

Use Wi-Fi direct feature

There are a couple of third-party apps available on Google Play Store for free which make use of Wi-Fi Hotspot technology to share files between two Android phones. SHAREit, which is a popular file-sharing app, also uses the same technique to send files over Wi-Fi network. Another example is ES Explorer, which is a file manager app.

One of the benefit of using SHAREit is that, it transfers files at a very high-speed (nearly 200 times faster than Bluetooth) and thus you can transfer large size files quickly. Furthermore, it also allows you to send all installed apps to other devices.

Note that, you have to install this app in both Android phones. After which, you have to create an account on it. Simply launch the app and follow on-screen instructions. Accounts are created offline just to identify the devices. It will ask you for the name and then you have to select the avatar photo. Once you have configured the app, follow these step-by-step guide to send the files –

  1. First of all, open SHAREit app in both devices.
  2. In the sending phone, click “Send” button.

Now find and select all the files you wish to transfer and then tap “Send” button again. Generally there are four tabs where all files are already sorted on the basis of their format.

  • As you will proceed, the app will automatically create a Wi-Fi Hotspot connection. Make sure to click the “Receive” button on the other phone simultaneously.
  • Finally tap the receiving phone’s avatar in the sending phone to connect and that’s it.

    This way, you can transfer GBs of data at a very high-speed. Once you have received all files, close the app and turn off the Hostspot feature in both devices, again to save the battery life.

    SHAREit will create a new folder, named as “QieZi“, in your phone’s internal memory where all files will be saved automatically. If it’s a media file, you can also view it from the Gallery or other media apps such as MX Player.

    Use Android Beam or NFC feature

    Many smartphones now support Android beam feature which let you share content between two devices quickly. You can transfer photos, videos, files, web pages, maps and other things just by tapping the phones back-to-back, without setting up anything.

    Before you start transferring content between two Android phones, first you have ensure that both of them support NFC. NFC stands for Near Field Communication, as name itself suggests, it is a short-range wireless communication that allow data exchange when the phone touches another device.

    To check if your phone support NFC, first go to Settings and click More options under Wireless and Networks section. If there is no NFC option, then most probably, your phone doesn’t support NFC feature.

    In some Android smartphones, you can also check the back-side of phone to find the NFC logo. Once you have confirmed that both devices support NFC, now you can share the content over Android Beam. Here’s a step-by-step guide –

    First of all, enable the NFC option in both devices and make sure that they are unlocked. Now for instance, If you want to share photos, first open the Gallery app and then select the items you wish to transfer. After this, press the phones back-to-back. In some smartphones, you have to press them from the part where NFC chip is located, generally close to the rear camera.

    Once the connection is established, touch the item on the screen and it will automatically appear on the other phone’s screen. In the same way, you can transfer videos, maps, web pages, apps and other things by opening their respective window.

    Transfer files using computer

    You can also transfer the files between two Android phones by using computer or laptop. All you have to do is, first connect both devices to the computer via data cable and then use the old-fashioned method of copy-paste to transfer the files from one phone to another directly. If you are having only one data cable, then first transfer the files from sending phone to the computer and then move them to the receiving phone. It’s a two-way process and you may find it a little bit lengthy.

    So these are some of the easy methods to transfer data between two Android phones and good thing is that, we have not used any third-party app. If you have any doubts, feel free to share them in the comment box.

    When being asked how to transfer data in between Android phones like Galaxy S6, LG G3, Nexus 9, HTC One M8, Xperia Z3 etc, the first and most common-used way comes to you is Bluetooth. Many Android users prefer to transfer phone content to others via Bluetooth wirelessly, for it’s very convenient and fast.

    In fact, Near Field Communication (NFC), a set of technology that enables smartphones or tablets to establish data exchange with each other in a short distance, has been widely integrated into popular and latest mobile devices from different brands. And one of its greatest applications is Android Beam. Yet, it’s still being not known by quite a lot Android users, let alone being fully used.

    In order to make you take a full use of your cellphone, the following article will introduce you what Android Beam is and how to use it.

    What is Android Beam?

    As mentioned above, Android Beam is a feature of Android mobile operating system allowing phone data to be transferred between devices via near field communication (NFC).

    Note: Data transfer between mobile phones or tablets via Android Beam can only achieved in those devices running Android 4.0 or above and supporting NFC.

    Use Android Beam to Transfer Data between Android Devices

    Step 1 Check NFC Support
    To start with, go to Settings > More under the WIRELESS & NETWORKS option. If you find a NFC in it which means the device supports NFC. Then, tick the block next to NFC to turn it on.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Step 2 Select Data
    After launching NFC, select the data you want to transfer. Below are some preparations for navigating phone content before transfer:
    1. Web Page. If you want to share a site to other, you should open the web in Chrome beforehand.
    2. YouTube Videos. Run YouTube app and open the video in the app.
    3. Apps. Open the pages of the apps in Google Play.
    4. Pictures. Open Photo Library or Gallery in your phone, long-pressing one image, then, blocks will show on the top-right corner of each picture. Tab those you want to finish selection.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Step 3 Beam to Share Content
    Placing devices back to back with the content to be shared displayed on the screen to activate Android Beam. If the content is able to be sent, the screen of the source phone will shrink down and a “Tap to Beam” text will display at the top. Tap the screen to confirm content transfer. When there is device near and able to beam, a sound will let out. Once the transferring done, a confirmation tone will play.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Read up here, you may know how to transfer data via Android Beam. Hurry to try this excellent feature to share content to your friends.

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    Ivy Bruce

    Ivy Bruce is the Founder and Editorial Director at Recovery-Android Studio. You can also find her on Google+ and Twitter.

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    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Transferring photos and other files between nearby smartphones should be simple, but it’s not. There are a variety of different ways you can do this, and which is best depends on which types of smartphones you’re transferring files between.

    This is particularly complicated because so many of these methods aren’t interoperable. Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone all have their own ways to send files and they don’t like talking to each other.

    Any Android device running Android 4.1 or later with an NFC chip inside it can send files via NFC using Android Beam. Just open the photo or other file, press the phones back to back, and you’ll be prompted to wirelessly “beam” the file to the other phone.

    This works great for quickly sending photos, but it can’t send every type of file. It’s also very limited. iPhones don’t have integrated NFC hardware, so they can’t participate. Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices do have NFC hardware, but Android Beam can’t send files with them — it’s Android or nothing.

    Windows Phone devices can send files between each other with NFC, so you’d be in luck if you managed to find someone else with a Windows Phone.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Bluetooth File Transfers

    Smartphones generally have integrated Bluetooth hardware, and Bluetooth can be used to wirelessly transfer files between nearby devices. This seems like a solution that would work across all smartphone platforms. However, while Android supports Bluetooth file transfers, Apple’s iPhone does not.

    Luckily, Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry both support Bluetooth file transfers, so this can theoretically work across all modern smartphone platforms, excluding iOS and devices that haven’t been updated from Windows Phone 7.

    On Android, you’ll need to open the file you want to share — for example, view the photo in the Gallery app — tap the share button, and then select the Bluetooth option. You’ll be prompted to set up the Bluetooth pairing between the two devices.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Share Over Dropbox or Another Service

    Since hardware-based methods are so incompatible across devices — nothing so far is compatible with an iPhone if only one of you has an iPhone — you’ll probably want to rely on some sort of online service.

    There’s a good chance one or both of you already use Dropbox. If you uploaded the file to your Dropbox app — on Android, you can even have photos you take automatically upload to your Dropbox account — you can then share a link to the file so the other person can download it directly from your Dropbox account.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Email the File

    What’s the only way to wirelessly send a file to someone else’s smartphone and have them receive it without needing a specialized app, no matter what smartphone they’re using? There should be a standard that makes this easy, but there isn’t — so the answer to the question is email. Emailing a file is the only way you can share a file with anyone else using any smartphone, no third-party apps needed.

    Just fire up the email app on your phone, attach the file, and send it to the other person’s email address — they’ll get the file in the email inbox on their phone.

    It’s a shame that, after all the sophisticated software we’ve developed, email is still the most reliable way of sending files.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    AirDrop

    Apple may refuse to support standards like NFC and Bluetooth file transfers, but they’re working on their own local-area file transfer solution for their upcoming iOS 7.

    The AirDrop feature will show you other iPhones in your nearby area and allow you to share files and other data to them. Unfortunately, this is an iPhone-only feature, so iPhones will still be cut off from Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and everyone else when it comes to local wireless file transfers.

    How to use android beam to wirelessly transfer content between devices

    Of course, there is a wide variety of other options for transferring files. You’ll find many third-party apps that give you ways to wirelessly transfer files in every smartphone platform’s app store, but you’ll generally need to be running the same app as the other person if you go this route.

    None of the above methods is particularly ideal for large files — for example, if you want to copy your music collection to a nearby phone. In situations like these, you may want to just connect your phone to a computer, copy the files to the computer, and then connect the other person’s phone to the computer and copy the files onto the other phone.