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WhatsApp Reportedly Adding Improvements to Its Under-Development Nearby File Sharing Feature for Android

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WhatsApp is said to be working on a nearby file-sharing feature for Android users that uses Bluetooth to transfer files for quite some time now. The feature was first reported in January 2024, but it has not even appeared on the beta version of the app. A new report now claims that the instant messaging platform is adding more improvements to the feature and that it could soon be rolled out in beta. Notably, the company is also reported to be working on a Favourites tab.

The new feature was spotted by the WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo in the WhatsApp beta for Android 2.24.9.22 build. However, the feature is currently not visible and beta testers will not be able to use it. As per the report, the People nearby feature now comes with a screen citing detailed permissions required for it to work. A separate screen also has an animation for finding nearby people and shows the list of discoverable users.

whatsapp nearby WhatsApp nearby file sharing feature

WhatsApp nearby file-sharing feature
Photo Credit: WABetaInfo

As per the screenshots, the People Nearby feature, which is located directly within the Settings menu, now informs users about the permissions WhatsApp requires to be turned on. These include access to photos, media and files, access to Bluetooth, and access to location. While access to files is required to show and send them to users, Bluetooth and location services are likely required to maintain the local network with users in proximity.

Once permissions are granted, users are taken to another page where other users who have activated nearby file-sharing can become discoverable and transfer files among each other without requiring internet connectivity. In the screenshot, WhatsApp claims sharing is end-to-end encrypted and the user’s phone number will remain hidden.

The feature can be a good alternative to sharing large files over the internet which can consume large amounts of data or sharing them through cloud services, especially in situations where the network is unstable or the user has limited data available. As per the report, the feature is near completion and could be available to beta testers via a future update. 


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