Smartphones and the cloud work together to make sharing a breeze. But there are also features unique to phones that making sharing photos, videos, and links just as easy. Android users have the cool Android Beam feature that simply lets you bring two devices together to share data, while iOS users have Airdrop that works using WiFi and Bluetooth.
In this post, we take a look at how AirDrop works so if you have just purchased an iPhone, iPad or Mac, you can learn how to use the feature to make file transfers between devices effortless.
What is AirDrop?
AirDrop is an iOS feature that lets you transfer links, photos, files and more on devices running iOS 7 or later, or a Mac. If you have more than one iOS device or if your friends who own one are nearby (within Bluetooth range), you can wirelessly send stuff back and forth without a worry. The best part about AirDrop is that it lets you share just about anything that can be shared on iMessage, Twitter or Facebook.
How AirDrop Works
AirDrop makes use of Bluetooth technology to create a peer-to-peer WiFi network between compatible devices. These transfers are made highly secure as each device creates a firewall around the network connection and encrypts the files transferred.
The AirDrop feature ensures that compatible devices that are nearby are automatically detected but the key here is that they should be close enough to establish a good WiFi connection.
Unlike a lot of Android devices that uses the rather slow and inconvenient combination of Near Field Communications (NFC) and Bluetooth to share files, the WiFi and Bluetooth combo adopted by AirDrop is far more efficient as it makes transfer of large files super fast.
AirDrop Supported Devices
- iPhone 5 or later
- iPad (4th generation or later)
- iPad mini
- iPod touch (5th generation)
- Mac with OS X Yosemite installed
Requirements for AirDrop to Work
In order to transfer files between devices, your:
- iOS device must include a lightning connector
- iOS device must have iOS 7 or later installed
- Mac needs to be a 2012 or later model with OS X Yosemite installed
- Mac and iOS device both need Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on.
How to Use AirDrop on your iPhone or iPad
1. You can turn on the AirDrop feature in iOS 8 from the Control Center. The Control Center also lets you manage who you share your content with. To access the Control Center, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
2. When you see the AirDrop icon, tap it. You can then choose who you want to share content with:
- Contacts: Selecting Contacts will allow you to use AirDrop only with your contacts
- Everyone: Selecting the Everyone option will allow you to use AirDrop with all nearby iOS devices. This means others having the same option enabled will be able to see your device and share stuff with you.
3. To start sharing something, make sure you are on the relevant app or page. For instance, if you want to share a photo, you must be on the Photo app. If you want to share a contact's phone number, make sure you are on the Contact's app, and if you want to share a web link, make sure you are on the web page in Safari.
4. When you are on the relevant app or page you want to share, tap the Share button. This is the box icon with an upward pointing arrow.
5. This will display the Share menu containing various sharing options. Tap AirDrop.
6. Now locate the device or user you want to share the content with. This will be displayed just above the Share menu with the user name (with photo if available) and the device label.
7. Tap the circle to send your content to the recipient or device.
The person you are airdropping content with will see a notification on their device along with a preview of the content you are sharing. They can either accept or decline it. If it is accepted by the user, he/she will be able to see the content in the respective app. For instance, if you’ve shared a photo it will appear in the Photos app and if it’s a link, it will show up in Safari.
TROUBLESHOOTING AIRDROP ISSUES
- If you cannot see AirDrop, make sure you have WiFi and Bluetooth turned on.
- If a device is not discoverable, give it a bit of time. If you still don't see a device, try and wake up the device and check again.
- If you are planning to share something with a nearby contact, but cannot find him in your Share list, make sure that both of you are signed into an iCloud account. If you still cannot find AirDrop for that contact, you can consider setting the AirDrop option to Everyone.
- Try turning off Personal Hotspot on one or both devices to make sure it works.
How to Share Content with AirDrop from a Mac Running OS X Yosemite
If you are on a Mac running Yosemite, you can use AirDrop to transfer files between your Mac and nearby Macs or other iOS devices. This still needs WiFi to work, but you don’t have to be connected to the same network to transfer files.
To send files via AirDrop on a Mac, you can use the Finder.
1. In Finder, select Go-> AirDrop. Alternately, you can select AirDrop from the sidebar of the Finder window.
2. Drag and drop one or more files onto the device that appears in the AirDrop window.
3. Click Send.
If you are not able to see the recipient’s device in the AirDrop window, check to see if the recipient is set up to receive files over AirDrop.
Just as with an iPhone or iPad, you can choose who you want to connect with. In the bottom of the AirDrop window, click Allow me to be discovered by dropdown and select an option.
You can also share content directly from an app as AirDrop is also integrated into a number of Mac features. For instance, you can click the Share button in the Safari web browser and choose AirDrop to send send links to another iOS device.
The recipient of the content will have to click Save on their Mac to save the incoming files to the Downloads folder or tap Accept on the iPhone or iPad to accept the content on the mobile device.
Again to view the content, it must be opened in the relevant app.
That's it. You can now airdrop just about anything with compatible devices and nearby users. Just remember though that AirDrop only works on iOS devices and is not cross compatible.