Google is trying to make it easier for developers to create Android apps that connect in some way between a number of devices. In a blog post, Google explains that it’s releasing a new cross-device software development kit (SDK) that contains the tools developers need to make their apps play well on Android devices and eventually on phones, tablets, TVs, non-Android cars, and more.
The SDK is supposed to allow developers to do three key things with their apps: discover nearby devices, establish secure connections between devices, and host the app experience across multiple devices. According to Google, its cross-device SDK uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ultra-broadband to provide connectivity to multiple devices.
Google describes different use cases for its SDK for different devices on its documentation page, and it looks like it could be useful in many scenarios. For example, it can allow multiple users on separate devices to select menu items when creating a group food order, saving you from lugging your phone around the room. It can also let you pick up where you left off in an article when you switch from your phone to a tablet, or even let car passengers share a specific map location with the car’s navigation system.
It almost sounds like an extension of Nearby Share, which allows Android users to transfer files to devices running Chrome OS and other Android devices. In April, Esper’s Mishaal Rahman spotted an upcoming update to Nearby Share that could let you quickly share files between devices you’re signed in to Google with. Google also said during the CES 2022 keynote that it will bring Nearby Share to Windows devices later this year.
The cross-device toolkit is currently available in developer preview and only works with Android phones and tablets for now. Google eventually wants to expand support to “other Android surfaces and non-Android operating systems,” including iOS and Windows, but there’s no word on when that will happen. Since the capability is in its early days, we probably can’t expect to see apps bridging the gap between iOS and Android devices anytime soon. But it will be interesting to see how developers implement the new launch feature and whether it will make using certain apps more convenient.