Nearby is actually a set of APIs that are available to developers to implement in apps. Nearby uses three different signals to determine when two devices are close enough to connect—Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and audio. The Wi-Fi component doesn’t actually connect two devices directly over Wi-Fi, but it does compare the list of Wi-Fi access points each device can see. If the list is close or both devices are on the same access point, that’s a good sign they’re very close to each other in the real world.
Bluetooth contributes by transmitting a special token which can be seen by other devices using Nearby. Finally, and most interestingly, there’s the audio component. Nearby allows phones to emit ultrasonic sound which is imperceptible to humans, but is detected by the microphone on other phones and tablets. If two devices can “hear” each other, they’re in close proximity. If you’ve been following us, you probably know about this feature already when we told you about the Radon app which uses Ultrasound to send files between smartphones.
On the user side, there’s nothing you need to do other than install and use apps that happen to implement Nearby.There are virtually no settings to tinker with, either. Nearby is present on all modern Android devices via Google Play Services, which is updated quietly in the background on a regular basis.
However, a new Google Play services includes a nifty extra for Nougat users in the form of a new quick settings tile for Nearby. Its most likely a toggle to turn it off or on. The rollout is not yet complete but it probably should reach you soon. The quicksettings tile is a Nougat exclusive feature however, using Nearby isn’t exclusive to Nougat here’s how you can use the nearby feature via some apps.
You can download the updated version on APK Mirror if you can’t wait although, given that you most probably never heard of this Nearby API before, we doubt you would be excited. Are you?.Did you know about this feature already?