DeskConnect trumps iOS 7 AirDrop for file sharing
DeskConnect is a new app available for download from the App Store and Mac App Store that enables you to quickly and easily share files between Macs and iOS devices. And it's free.
Why bother, you may ask yourself, when iOS 7 introduces AirDrop support, and should be out in the next few weeks? Because iOS's implementation of AirDrop is limited specifically to iOS 7 devices - it doesn't support Macs and it doesn't support iOS 6 devices. What's more, DeskConnect offers additional functionality.
DeskConnect consists of two apps - one for the Mac and one for iOS. It also needs an account via DeskConnect.com, which is available for free. There's no limit on the number of Macs or iOS devices that can be set up to share a single account, and no limit on how many files you can share - though DeskConnect only keeps track of 30 days' worth of files.
Once installed, DeskConnect exists as a menu item in OS X and as an app on iOS devices. The OS X menu item enables you to send files and the contents of your Mac's clipboard to any of your iOS devices that are configured with the software.
The app isn't optimized for iPads yet, though it works in 2x mode (the developers say an Pad version is a top priority). You don't need a direct device-to-device connection over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth in order for files to transfer; you just need an active Internet connection. You can send text files, images, videos, web page links, documents and other content between machines. The software can save bookmarklets to send web sites to other devices from within Safari and Chrome (Firefox is still a work in progress).
DeskConnect's developers have put a 100 megabyte cap on file transfer sizes, but warn that the servers "may not be able to wait long enough for a device to finish uploading a file of that large of a size," so your mileage may vary. My tests were with much smaller files - typically only a few megs a piece. The data transfer is encrypted, though DropConnect stops short of saying how.
Transferred files and clipboard contents appear in a dashboard in the iOS app; files are kept for 30 days. You can save files permanently if you need to.
DeskConnect's functionality goes beyond just file transfer, though. If you send a contact phone number from your Mac to your iPhone, your iPhone can start a phone call. You can pull up Google Maps directions on your Mac and have it open in the iOS Maps application.
DeskConnect is compatible with AppleScript and Apple's Automator utility. If you're a power user who works with those tools, you can combine the four actions DeskConnect supports (for now) with anything else you can dream up. Supported actions include "Call with iPhone," "Send Files to Device," "Send Text to Device" and "Send URLs to Device."
DeskConnect is dependent on push notifications in order to work - both on the iOS side and on the Mac side. So you'll need to be running OS X Lion or later on the Mac, and make sure to allow the iOS app to send push notifications.
- Very easy data transfer between Macs and iOS devices
- AppleScript support on the OS X side extends customization
- 100MB file size limit
- Not optimized for iPad
- Doesn't work with Firefox
The Bottom Line
You can lose track of all the file sharing services and apps that enable you to get content from your Mac to iOS or vice versa, but DeskConnect wins my vote for its customizability and ease of use. Definitely worth downloading and checking out.