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Android 12 might allow sharing Wi-Fi passwords with Nearby Share

Google is working on an extension to the AirDrop-like Nearby Share feature that was introduced on Android phones last year, to allow secure sharing of Wi-Fi passwords.

You can even use this to share Wi-Fi passwords while physically separated by a big group of people, like a gathering at home.
You can even use this to share Wi-Fi passwords while physically separated by a big group of people, like a gathering at home. (Google)

Android 11 is still rolling out to eligible devices around the world months after Google first rolled out the update to the Pixels last September, but the company is already hard at work putting together the next exciting release - Android 12. We’re now seeing tidbits of Google’s planned features for the next version that will land later this year, including improvements to Wi-Fi setup.

Earlier today, we reported that Android 12 will likely include a feature titled Restricted Networking Mode, as part of changes to iptables, the firewall utility for Android and Linux, to allow only certain apps which have the “use restricted network permission” to use the network.

Another feature has now been discovered by XDA, which is essentially an improvement to the ability to share Wi-Fi networks introduced in Android 10. As of today, users running Android 10 or Android 11 could simply share their Wi-Fi networks via an automatically generated QR code, which the recipients would scan to join instead of typing the password.

However, this is not ideal for most situations, such as when you’re hosting a party at home and don’t really want to print the QR code for everyone to see - or have to keep opening your phone’s Wi-Fi settings and hoping the other person has a QR-code scanner. Google is working on an extension to the AirDrop-like Nearby Share feature that was introduced on Android phones last year, to allow secure sharing of Wi-Fi passwords.

Also read: Google is adding a Restricted Networking Mode to Android 12: What does this mean?

The feature should involve a change to the Wi-Fi sharing option to allow sending the code to any compatible device discoverable by Nearby Share in the vicinity. You can even use this to share Wi-Fi passwords while physically separated by a big group of people, like a gathering at home, without alerting anyone else.

While we still don’t know if this feature will actually make it into Android 12 or appear as a feature update to Nearby Services on Google Play Services, one immediate and obvious benefit of using this method is that your recipient doesn’t need to be on the latest version of Android. Since Nearby Share works on all Android devices running Android Marshmallow (6.0) and above, the feature should be supported out of the box when it is released in September.

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