Google opens the door to Android apps that work on all types of devices
Google is trying to make it easier for developers to build Android apps that connect in some way to a range of devices. In a blog postGoogle says it’s releasing a new cross-device software development kit (SDK) that contains the tools developers need to make their apps work well on Android devices and eventually on phones, tablets, TVs, cars non-Android, etc.
The SDK is supposed to allow developers to do three essential things with their apps: discover nearby devices, establish secure connections between devices, and host an app’s experience across multiple devices. According to Google, its multi-device SDK uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ultra-wideband to provide multi-device connectivity.
Google outlines various use cases for its cross-device SDK on its documentation page, and it looks like it could be useful in many scenarios. For example, it could allow multiple users on separate devices to choose items from a menu when creating a group food order, saving you from having to hover your phone around the room. It could also allow you to pick up where you left off in an article when switching from your phone to a tablet, or even allow passengers in a car to share a specific map location with the vehicle’s navigation system.
It almost looks like a Nearby Share extension, which allows Android users to transfer files to devices that use Chrome OS and other Androids. In April, Esper’s Mishaal Rahman spotted an upcoming Nearby Sharing update that could let you quickly share files across devices you’re signed in to Google with. Google also said during a CES 2022 keynote that it will bring Nearby Sharing to Windows devices Later this year.
The cross-device toolkit is currently available in a developer preview and currently only works with Android phones and tablets. Google eventually wants to expand support to “other Android surfaces and non-Android operating systems,” including iOS and Windows, but it’s unclear when that will happen. Given that the capability is in its early stages, we probably can’t expect to see apps bridging connectivity between iOS and Android devices anytime soon. But it will be interesting to see how developers implement the new feature to boot, and whether it will make certain apps more convenient to use.