How to use Android Beam?

What is Android Beam?

Android Beam is a feature that allows two NFC-enabled Android devices to quickly share data when touched back-to-back. Android Beam uses NFC (Near Field Communication) to establish a peer-to-peer connection between devices, and once connected, it can beam content from one device to another using Bluetooth. According to the Android documentation, Android Beam provides “a great user experience by making it easy to share content across devices” (Near field communication (NFC) overview | Connectivity).

When two NFC-enabled Android phones are placed back-to-back, the NFC protocol is used to establish a connection, negotiate the transfer, and start sharing data using Bluetooth. This allows fast, wireless sharing of content like web pages, YouTube videos, contacts, map locations, and more between Android devices. Android Beam intelligently determines what content type is being shared and handles the transfer appropriately.

Overall, Android Beam utilizes NFC for the initial handshake and setup, before handing off to a faster Bluetooth transfer for the actual content beaming between devices (Android Beam). This provides a seamless and quick way to share data across compatible Android devices.

Requirements for Android Beam

In order for Android Beam to work properly, both devices need to meet certain requirements:

– Both devices need to have NFC (Near Field Communication) hardware and support. NFC allows two devices to communicate when in close proximity, usually by touching the backs of the devices together. According to the Android developer documentation, NFC needs to be enabled on both devices.

– Both devices need to have Android Beam enabled in the settings. Android Beam is disabled by default, so you need to enable it manually. The setting can be found in Settings > More connection settings > Android Beam.

– Both devices need to be running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or later. Android Beam was introduced in Android 4.0. Devices running older versions of Android will not have support for this feature. According to Javatpoint, your Android device must have OS 4.0 or higher installed.

Turning on Android Beam

To get started using Android Beam, you first need to enable the feature in your device settings. Here are the steps:

Open the Settings app on your Android device and go to the Connections or Network settings. There you will find an option for NFC. Tap on NFC to open the NFC settings.

Look for the Android Beam option and toggle it on. This will activate Android Beam on your device [1].

With Android Beam now enabled, you can start beaming content between compatible NFC Android devices.

Sharing content via Android Beam

To share content between two NFC-enabled Android devices using Android Beam:

1. Open the content you want to share, such as a photo, webpage, or app on one device.

2. Touch the back of that device to the back of the receiving device. Make sure the NFC area (usually shaded on the back) of each phone connects.

3. Tap your screen to confirm the transfer of content. The receiving device will automatically open the content if the app is installed. Otherwise it will prompt to download the necessary app from Google Play.[1]

This allows you to instantly share things like webpages just by touching devices back-to-back. It’s a quick and easy way to transfer content between NFC-compatible Android phones.

[1] “Using NFC.” HTC Support,

Transferring browsing sessions

One unique use of Android Beam is to transfer an active browsing session from one device to another. This allows you to easily share the web page you’re currently viewing with someone else.

To transfer a browsing session via Android Beam:

  1. Open the Chrome app on both devices.
  2. Navigate to the desired web page on the first device.
  3. With Chrome open, touch the backs of the devices together.
  4. When the prompt appears, tap Yes to initiate the transfer.
  5. The active browsing session will beam from the first device to the second.

The second device will then open the shared web page, allowing the other user to continue browsing from the same point. This provides a quick and easy way to share links when you’re on-the-go without NFC.

Sharing apps via Android Beam

One useful feature of Android Beam is the ability to share app downloads between devices. This allows you to quickly send an app recommendation to a friend and have them install it right away.

To share an app via Android Beam:

  1. Open the Play Store app on your Android phone.
  2. Search for the app you want to share and open its Play Store page.
  3. With the app’s Play Store page open, physically touch your phone to your friend’s phone back-to-back. Make sure both devices have NFC and Android Beam turned on.
  4. Your friend’s phone will display a prompt to install the app. They simply need to tap on “Accept” to download and install the app.

That’s it! By touching the phones together on the app’s Play Store page, Android Beam gifts the app and transfers it to your friend’s device. This provides a quick and easy way to share apps without needing to send links or search.

Note that both phones must have Android Beam enabled and be in close contact to transfer the app. The app itself is downloaded from the Play Store on your friend’s phone after they accept the transfer.

Transferring contacts

Contacts can easily be transferred between Android devices using Android Beam. To transfer a contact, first open the Contacts app and select the contact you want to transfer. Make sure the full contact details are visible on the screen.

Next, turn on NFC and Android Beam on both devices if it is not already enabled. Bring the two devices back-to-back so that the NFC antennas connect. You will hear a sound effect and the screen will display “Touch to beam.” Tap your screen to start the transfer.

The selected contact details will beam from one phone to the other via NFC. On the receiving device, you will see a message that the contact has been transferred and it will be saved in the Contacts app automatically. This provides a quick, wireless way to share contacts between Android phones.

Beaming maps and routes

Android Beam can be very useful for quickly sharing map locations and directions between devices. To beam a map or route from Google Maps:

1. Open the Google Maps app on one device and search for a location or get directions to a destination.

2. With the map or directions displayed, simply touch the back of that device to the back of the receiving device.

3. The map or directions will instantly beam to the second device’s Google Maps app.1 This provides a quick way to share useful location data when you’re on the go.

4. On the receiving device, open the notification shade and tap the “New Map” or “New Directions” notification to open the beamed map or route in Google Maps.

The ability to instantly beam map locations and directions to another device can come in very handy when meeting up with friends or navigating to an unfamiliar destination.

Security considerations

While Android Beam provides a convenient way to share content between devices, there are some security aspects to consider. Android Beam uses NFC technology, which only allows data transmission when two devices are touched back-to-back. This prevents eavesdropping or interception of data from farther away 1. The touching requirement limits the risk of transmitted data being intercepted.

However, researchers have found vulnerabilities in how Beam’s permissions are classified that could allow malware to spread through beaming 2. Google has released security patches to address this. Users should keep their Android version up-to-date and consider disabling Android Beam if unsupported.


Android Beam has some limitations that users should be aware of:

Both devices need to be unlocked and screens kept active during transfer. Android Beam relies on NFC technology which requires the devices to be in close proximity. If the screen turns off on one device during transfer, the connection will be lost.

There are file size limits for transfers. Images and videos can be up to 10MB, while app and contact transfers are limited to the size of the app’s APK file or the contact database. Very large files may not transfer successfully.

Per this article, Android Beam is only available on devices with NFC modules. Older devices without NFC capabilities cannot use Android Beam.

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