With Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Nexus S, Google added support for NFC in Android. However, it was only a year after Ice Cream Sandwich, and later, Jelly Bean, were released that the company made some use of NFC apart from mainly using it for Google Wallet. In Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google introduced Android Beam that allows you to share a Play Store link to an app, or a YouTube video, or a particular location on a Map, by simply tapping two NFC-equipped Android devices together.
The use case scenario was, however, still very limited. Thankfully, Google partially fixed this issue in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean by enhancing Android Beam to allow transfer of files between Android devices. With NFC and Jelly Bean now becoming common even in mid-range Android devices, sharing of files between Android devices can be initiated in a much faster way by using Android Beam, instead of using the traditional Bluetooth pairing way. The only problem is that not many people are aware of such a nifty feature on their phone.
How To Use Android Beam To Transfer Files Between Two Android Devices
Step 1: Make sure that you have not switched off the NFC feature on your Android device. The option is generally located under Settings -> More -> NFC. Generally, if you enable NFC, Android Beam will be enabled automatically as well. You can confirm this, after enabling NFC, by tapping on Android Beam and making sure the toggle switch is in On position.
Step 2: Now, head over to the Gallery app on your Android device and select the image(s) and/or videos that you want to transfer to another Android device. Once selected, simply touch the back of your Android device to another device.
Step 3: You will now see a message on your device saying “Touch To Beam”. Touch the screen at this point to initiate the file transfer. You can use the same process to transfer other data such as a contact data, or a Play Store link to an app, a YouTube video and much more to other NFC equipped Android devices.
Keep in mind that you need to touch the NFC ‘window’ of another device with the NFC window of your device, which is generally located at the back. The NFC tap might not be detected if you are using a cover or casing on your Android device that is blocking the NFC signal like the ones made from metal.
Android Beam makes use of Bluetooth to transfer files, which is a let down since it does not use the much faster Wi-Fi Direct protocol. Even then, the feature allows for seamless pairing of Bluetooth devices and transfer of files, which is a boon if you regularly transfer files between multiple devices. Android Beam might also work on other NFC equipped handsets running an altogether different OS like the Nokia Pure View 808, BlackBerry Z10 and others.
Hopefully, Google will enhance Android Beam in the future versions of Android to allow sending of files over Wi-Fi Direct and add support for other file types as well.