Android Beam is one of the more convenient technologies in recent interactions of the operating system. The technology has been around for awhile that allows you to share information across devices simply by proximity.

In this guide on how to use Android Beam, we’re going to run down exactly what it is and how you can set it up on your phone or tablet. Android Beam is only available on devices with Android 4.0 or later, so make sure you check your OS version to see if it’s even an option.

What is Android Beam?

Android Beam is a technology that takes advantage of NFC to transmit data between two devices. NFC, or Near Field Communication, uses a chip installed in most modern devices to communicate.

Both devices need an NFC chip as the technology uses radio frequencies between the two chips as a means to move data from one device to another. Most modern phones and tablets have on installed, so, as long as you’re up to data, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

If you’re uncertain, there are a few ways to check. Many devices will have an “N” printed on the back, especially Sony devices, indicating that NFC is available. If you can take the backplate off your phone, you may see “NFC” printed somewhere inside as well.

If both of those fail, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Simply go into your settings and search around a bit. If you see anything marked “NFC” or “Android Beam,” then you have NFC on your device.

How to Use Android Beam

Before you can use Android Beam, you’ll need to turn it on in your settings. Follow the path “settings > more” on your Android device and find the “NFC” switch to activate it. Once you do so, Android Beam functionality will turn on as well.

In the event it doesn’t simply turn it on with the setting below NFC. The two technologies work together, so make sure you don’t have one enabled and not the other.

That’s really it for setting up NFC, but there are few issues that may arise when trying to share. Look out for the following common problems:

  • Both devices need NFC and Android Beam enabled
  • Both devices need to be powered on and unlocked
  • You’ll receive audio and vibration when two devices detect each other
  • Keep the devices close together for the duration of transfer
  • Wait for the audio feedback before taking devices away from each other.

NFC is designed for small file transfer, so you won’t be able to send everything. Even so, small content, contacts, map locations and web pages are no match for the technology.

How to Beam Content

No matter what device you’re using, there is a generic method for beaming content. The specifics may change a bit from device to device, but common sense should prevail. Not all files can be transmitted over NFC, though, so keep that in mind.

First, make sure NFC is enabled and open the content you want to share. Place both devices back to back and wait for the sound and haptic feedback to come through. This indicates the devices have detected each other.

The sender’s phone will now say “touch to beam” with the content shrunk in the middle. Touch the content and wait, keeping both devices touching. Once it’s done, you’ll hear an audio confirmation as well as a notification that the transfer has completed.

Final Thoughts

There is a variety of different content you can send over NFC. The technology is simple, but still extremely powerful. In addition to two devices, you can also embed unpowered NFC chips in other devices that transmit a small amount of data.

For this, make sure you use the Trigger app in the Google Play Store to read whatever content is trying to send. Once you have that, simply touch the tag to the back on your device and content transfer will occur.

With all that said, NFC does have it’s problems and won’t always work on the first try. If you have failure, just try a few times more as this will often resolve any communication issues between the two devices.

What do you use NFC for? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

Posted by Jacob Roach

Jacob Roach is a Midwesterner with a love for technology, an odd combination given his corn field-ridden setting. After finishing a degree in English at Southern New Hampshire University, Jacob settled back under the Arch in his hometown of St. Louis, MO, where he now writes about anything tech. His main interests are web technologies and online privacy, though he dips his toes in photography and the occasional card game as well.

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