The idea behind Apple’s popular AirDrop file sharing technology is sound. The implementation does not match the hype. Here’s the problem.
Whether you’re using AirDrop on a Mac or the new AirDrop built in to iPhone or iPad running iOS 7, the issues are the same. It doesn’t ‘just work’ and it definitely doesn’t work ‘everywhere.’ Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea behind AirDrop. It’s just that Apple’s implementation is self serving to Apple, and not as much to their customers.
AirDrop for the Mac is a service that first launched in OS X Lion. Users can share files to others on a local network without having to connect to each device. AirDrop does the locating, identifying, connecting, and transferring behind the scenes.
What’s wrong with that?
Only Mac owners with the latest and greatest Mac need apply. Some Macs barely a few years old don’t have the hardware specs to make AirDrop work appropriately. AirDrop is included in iOS 7, but similar issues arise as the sharing technology only works on newer iPhones and iPads (and the most recent iPod touch models).
Dan Frakes at Macworld does a good job putting together the details on what AirDrop is and how it works, but doesn’t point out the connection and usage problems with older devices. He does mention the problem in OS X whereby Mac users need to open the AirDrop window to make themselves available to other AirDrop users. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth need to be on for AirDrop to work.
iOS can be setup to find and recognize nearby users, but you can’t AirDrop (as a verb) files, folders, or photos between your iPhone and your Mac. Apple’s hype is crystal clear. AirDrop lets you easily find, connect to, and share files with others nearby. The reality is different. Everyone needs to have recent hardware, Mac or iOS, and have it turned on, and not want to share files from iPhone to Mac (or, the reverse).
For Mac users who need to connect and share files with other Macs on a network, and who don’t want to bother with AirDrop, there’s DropCopy and Any Send, both decent and affordable replacements for Apple’s overhyped technology.