Until a few years ago, when people finally learned to live with it, iOS was often criticized for its lack of Bluetooth file sharing. Technology has moved on since then, and now many smartphones come with support for NFC. Apple has refused to add support for Bluetooth file transfer and NFC until now, but iOS 7 does ship with a new feature that can prove to be a worthy alternative. AirDrop allowed owners of the more recent iDevices running iOS 7 to share photos, contacts, and videos with other iOS users. The feature works a lot like Bluetooth file transfer. You can control your device’s visibility with ease, and there is also the possibility of refusing to receive a file if you think it is coming from an untrustworthy source. AirDrop chooses a destination for the incoming file automatically, so that users don’t have to fret over it.
AirDrop was first introduced in OS X, but its iOS namesake doesn’t go cross-platform, which means it is only possible to use iOS 7’s AirDrop to share files between iDevices, and not to Macs, at least not yet. AirDrop is a really useful feature, but it isn’t available to all iOS 7 users. You can access it only if you are on one of the following devices.
- iPhone 5s
- iPhone 5c
- iPhone 5
- iPad mini
- iPad (4th Generation)
- iPod touch 5G
AirDrop can be used to share photos, videos, notes, contacts, app links, station links from iTunes Radio, and webpages. In future there might be other areas of iOS 7 where you see the AirDrop option, but these are all the major ones for now.
To make things work, launch the Control Center, and hit the AirDrop shortcut there. This brings up options to control your device’s visibility level. If you trust your surroundings, choose the ‘Everyone’ option, and anyone in your vicinity will be able to send you files. A more safer option is to allow only people in your address book to interact with you.
In order for AirDrop to work, both users need to be on the same WiFi network, and within Bluetooth range as the feature makes use of both media. Just hit the sharing button on the file you mean to send, and then choose the name of the target device from the resulting menu. The recipient gets an alert, sometimes with a preview of the file, with ‘Decline’ and ‘Accept’ buttons below it. If the transfer is approved, the file is sent to its appropriate destination on the receiving device.
It would have been great had Apple made AirDrop available for all iOS 7 users, but even now you might find yourself using the feature with increasing frequency. The fact that its shortcut is available in the Control Center only adds to the usefulness.