Living in the supposedly wireless age that we do, you would think that it would be easy to do something as simple as transfer a file from one device to another without the need for a cable tethering the two together.
You’ve been able to share files wirelessly over a network for some time now, but only if you had access to the computer which you wanted to send those files to. That, and you need to be on the same wireless network as the computer you’re sharing with. Bag of hurt anyone? Just grab a pen drive and let us do this the old fashioned way.
This issue is even more poignant with the surge in popularity of mobile devices. Want to send a file to your iPhone? Outside of using iTunes and a USB cable (this, admittedly, will be changing with the release of iOS 5 in the autumn) your best bet is a third party app such as Dropbox.
I know, I know, you’re screaming “there has to be a better way to do this” at the screen right now as you’re reading this. Either that or “I wish this guy would hurry up and make his point”. Don’t worry, I’m getting to it…
Fortunately, there is a new feature in Lion that makes it really, really easy to send files to another machine running Lion straight from the Finder. ‘AirDrop’ doesn’t require you to be on a wireless network, it simply creates a personal area network (PAN) between a number of computers near each other.
For security reasons, every transfer has to be authorised by the recipient, so a file can’t just be pushed on to someone’s computer without their knowledge. Also, for a computer to be shown in the AirDrop window, both machines must be running AirDrop at the same time. Your computer will be invisible until you go on AirDrop yourself.
Transfer speeds are really fast, and transferring smaller files such as documents happens instantaneously. As no passwords are required, the whole affair couldn’t get much simpler.
Unfortunately, the feature is limited to Macs that have the ability to create a PAN – most Lion capable machines will be able to handle it no problem, but if your computer is getting on a little bit then you might want to check it can create a PAN before complaining about AirDrop bugs – but it’s definitely a feature worth talking about.
Right now, AirDrop is limited to Mac – Mac transfers, but I would not be surprised to see this capability extended to iOS devices soon enough to make file transfers on the iPhone and iPad truly wireless out of the box. If you have two or more machines that are running Lion, then you should definitely give AirDrop a try. Even better, use it out in the wild and transfer files with other people running Lion to see how well it works on your machine!