iOS 7 preview: AirDrop lets you easily share your stuff, no bumping needed

iOS 7 AirDrop lets you easily share photos, video, contacts, passes, and more with the tap of a face and the miracles of wireless!

With iOS 7, Apple's peer-to-peer, ad-hoc Wi-Fi file transfer protocol, AirDrop comes to the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Originally introduced on the Mac with OS X 10.7 Lion, and attached to the Finder to allow anyone to beam any file or folder to anyone else with in range, the iOS version doesn't have a user-facing filesystem to work such universal wonders with, but it does have a great-looking interface, and incredibly easy point of access thanks to Control Center and Share sheets.

Here's how Apple describes AirDrop for iOS 7:

Sending a photo or a document to someone via text or email is fine. But if that someone is right next to you, a text or an email suddenly feels like too many steps. Enter AirDrop for iOS. It lets you quickly and easily share photos, videos, contacts — and anything else from any app with a Share button. Just tap Share, then select the person you want to share with. AirDrop does the rest using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. No setup required. And transfers are encrypted, so what you share is highly secure.

And here's what Apple's shown off about AirDrop so far:

  • AirDrop lives on the new iOS 7 Share sheet, and that means it's accessible from any app that includes the Share button.

  • AirDrop will automatically detect any other discoverable iOS 7 users and show you their contact pictures.

  • Tap on one or more contacts and AirDrop will send them whatever it is you want to share.
  • When you receive an AirDrop, iOS 7 will show you an alert.

  • If you accept the AirDrop, you'll be taken directly to the shared item in whichever app handles its content type.

  • AirDrop discoverability settings can be accessed via the Control Center, even from the Lock screen.

There's no two ways about, no negatives and positives to weight - AirDrop is a fantastic addition to iOS 7. We'll have to wait and see how it works in the real world after it ships, especially how reliable the connections are, but Apple said system wide, peer-to-peer, fast, and secure, and if it lives up to that, it'll be a hit.

Sure, in a perfect world I'd have it hooked into my long-lusted-after and FilePicker system, but I'm hard-pressed to find any other nits to pick here.

Apple, for their part, chose to make fun of the NFC (near-field communications) sharing systems found in some Android, BlackBerry, and other phones. While those can be fun, beaming (a feature other platforms also share - we could do it over infrared on the PalmOS Treo... sometimes!) is more practical. In the future, perhaps even the local constraint will disappear and any contact of ours, online with sufficient bandwidth and discoverability, will be available for immediate Air... er... WarpDrop?

Check out the resources below for more, and let me know - is iOS 7 AirDrop everything you wanted it be?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.