If you are in the Apple ecosystem, you are probably familiar with Handoff, a feature that allows you to seamlessly transfer tasks from one device to another. For example, you started reading an article on your Mac, but after a few minutes decide to read it on your iPad. After you simply unlock the tablet, you will be greeted by a small icon so you can open the web page and pick up where you left off. In recent years, Android has taken a number of steps to get closer to that seamless cross-device conversation. Near Share works quickly and efficiently, just like AirDrop. And with a Link to Windows app, you can sync phone information, notifications, and files to your laptop — sort of how iPhones and MacBooks bounce off each other.
But there’s still some work to be done to improve that ‘ecosystem’ experience, and Google seems to put a lot of effort into that!
At this year’s annual Google Developer Conference, also known as Google I/O, the tech giant, presented a few new ways that could give us just that: a quick and easy transition between devices that talk to each other and share a common task.
Android 13 lets you copy and paste on your Android devices
A new feature of Android 13 allows users to copy and paste across all their connected devices, similar to Apple’s Universal Clipboard. This means you can copy some text from your phone, tap a quick “nearby sharing” pop-up, and then paste it onto your other device as you normally would.
This can be a really handy feature, as you currently need to find a way to message what’s on your clipboard to your other device, copy it again, and then paste it. While this new solution still has an extra step compared to Apple’s Continuity, it’s still much better for Android’s overall UX, which involves multiple devices.
A new set of APIs for a seamless cross-device experience
The announcement continues contours a new set of APIs that allow developers to build apps that do more than just copy and paste some text from one device to another.
For example, during a car trip, you can share a map location directly with your friend’s car. If you want to rent or buy a movie on your TV, you can also use your phone to enter your payment method. Or, if you have multiple people ordering takeout, you can just have all your guests open the dedicated delivery app on their phone and send their orders to your shopping cart.
Google stated that it plans to support cross-platform development for Chrome OS, iOS, Windows and other platforms, so these functionalities will not be limited to Android only.
To create these APIs, Google took the methods Near Share uses to discover and authorize devices and gave them “extra capabilities” so developers can use them and create applications that “easily connect devices in a shared experience while preserving the user privacy”.
These APIs will be available first through Google Play Services and we can expect an early preview in Q2 2022.
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