(Credit: Screenshot: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

Android devices have historically done double duty as portable storage devices, but the on-device experience of navigating through your files has been hit-or-miss. In response to this, Google released the free Files Go app globally in December 2017 to help you find, manage, and transfer files wirelessly to others nearby, and today its wireless transfer speeds got a major boost from 125 megabits per second to well over 400 Mbps.

SEE: Google starts verifying and updating Android apps that aren't from its Play Store

These are not USB 3.0 speeds, but being able to send big files that quickly over the air to people nearby opens up better possibilities for sharing HD videos, large photo galleries, MP3 collections, or just a bunch of documents. You also don't need an Internet connection; the app creates a Wi-Fi hotspot on your Android device that another Android device can connect to directly.

Just open the app, tap the Share button in the bottom right, and tap the Send or Receive button to start flinging your files. In case you're worried about privacy, using Wi-Fi like this allows the Files Go app to employ WPA2 encryption to reduce the possibility of someone next to you getting an unauthorized peek.

(Credit: Screenshot: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

That's not all that Files Go can do

As you might imagine, Files Go is also deeply integrated with Google Drive -- the company's general cloud storage service -- and Google Photos, which is cloud storage optimized for the pics you snap and the screenshots you grab on your phone or tablet. Every Google account gets 15GB of free storage, and Google Photos will store an unlimited number of images for free if you let it optimize your pics to take up less space.

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But you don't necessarily want to put everything that's on your phone into the Google cloud. That's where the Files Go app's Clean section comes in. With a few taps, you can delete everything that the app has identified as junk, or pictures on your device that have been uploaded to Google Photos, or apps that you haven't used in over a month.

And of course, if you just want to find a file on your Android phone or tablet, the Browse section has a search function and categories like Images, Videos, Audio, and Documents. Files sorted into these buckets may be in folders all over your device, but organizing them this way can make them much easier to track down.

The takeaways

  1. The Google Play Store is chock-full of apps that promise to "optimize" your storage or performance, with wildly varying degrees of trustworthiness. So a free tool like this directly from Google is a welcome sight. Faster wireless transfers are practically the icing on the cake.
  2. Sending and receiving files in Files Go is refreshingly simple, although both devices need to have the app installed and open. It shouldn't be a difficult process to explain to a non-technical user.

See also

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.