Nearby Share may let you share your WiFi password on Android 12
When you want to share your WiFi password with a lot of people, it can quickly become tedious to do so. Telling people the password is one option, but that gives you less control over who and what devices can connect to your network (and it also pushes you to use a simpler password). Typing it in yourself is another option, but you can imagine how annoying it’ll be to enter it on dozens of devices. If you have a phone running Android 10, you can easily share your WiFi password in the form of a QR code. Onboarding WiFi devices by scanning a QR code became possible thanks to the Wi-Fi Easy Connect protocol, and while it’s an easier and more secure way to add new devices, there are still a few downsides. Thankfully, Google is working on an even easier way to share your WiFi password, and it could debut on the upcoming Android 12 release.
The problem with device provisioning via QR code is that it involves either physically holding up one’s phone to scan the QR code on another phone (imagine doing that in a crowded room with a ton of people) or scanning a QR code that was printed out (which makes it harder to control who gets access.) Fortunately, Google is working on a solution that lets you more easily share the generated QR code with others using the company’s Nearby Share feature. (Yes, you can take a screenshot of the “Share Wi-Fi” page and then send that over via Nearby Share, but doing that is probably not obvious for many senders and also requires the recipient to know how to use something like Google Lens to scan the QR code.)
A new commit submitted to AOSP by Google engineer Abel Tesfaye seeks to tweak the “Share Wi-Fi” page to implement a nearby sharing button. When tapped, the default nearby sharing component is launched (which is Google’s Nearby Share on all certified Android devices) so the user can share the QR code with any nearby peer. Since Nearby Share works in close proximity but doesn’t require physical contact or scanning any codes, this means you can share your WiFi password from across the room. Plus, sharing any files requires consent from both the sender and the recipient, so we assume the same will be true for sharing WiFi credentials.
Since this commit hasn’t been merged yet, we don’t know for certain if this feature will appear in Android 12. There’s likely still time for a feature like this to make its way to the next Android release, but the window is closing on new feature additions. The first Android 12 Developer Preview will likely go live sometime next month, though a merger now may mean we won’t see this feature until a second or third developer preview, if at all. We’ll update this article if this commit gets merged, if it appears in an official Android 12 release, or if it gets scrapped.
Featured image: Sharing your WiFi password on Android 11 using a QR code