All those who use macOS or iOS know what a blessing it is to have AirDrop. You can easily pick up any file on one of your Apple devices and drop it in another in no time using the feature which makes file transfer truly struggle free. But this option, as you must have guessed already, is limited to Apple products and does not work when it comes to cross-platform transfers. For that, many people have been using other options, of which ShareIt is one of the most popular. It is an app that allows cross-platform transfer with minimal hassle (although with a few ads), acting as the perfect AirDrop alternative for files that needed to be transferred on different platforms.
Then the app ban happened with the Government of India banning 59 apps, one of which was ShareIt. Which makes matters slightly difficult for those in the “Share-ing” world. But what if we tell you, that there is a file-sharing platform that has been around for a while, almost five years and which allows you to share files from one device to another regardless of the platform it runs on. And unlike ShareIt where you had to download an app, give yourself a name, and make sure both devices have the app, this one has no such requirement. All you need is the same active Internet connection!
Snapdrop is a free, open-source, cross-platform web app that allows you to share files regardless of the platform of the devices. It works for iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, and basically any other mobile or desktop platform that can run a browser. All you need is a person-to-person network to make the transfer.
How it works?
Snapdrop is a web app that allows you to share files across different devices. To use it, all you have to do is open the Snapdrop page (https://snapdrop.net) on the two devices that you want to share data. You also have to make sure they are connected to the same Internet connection. This means if you want to transfer a file from your iPhone to your Windows laptop, both of these devices need to be running on the same network connection. And that is literally the only criteria one needs to fulfill in order to use Snapdrop. It will work perfectly on your home wi-fi, in your office, in a Starbucks cafe, the works!
Once you have opened Snapdrop in your browser on both the devices, a white screen with a small blue Wi-Fi signal-like icon will appear on the screen with concentric circle waves emitting from it. The interface is pretty straightforward and does not require any setting up, which honestly is one of the best parts of it. You do not need to sign up or put your details down anywhere or download anything at all. You can just open the Web app on your devices using your browser (it worked well with Safari and Chrome) and you are good to go!
Once you have the web page opened on all devices, each device will show the other devices on their displays. After your device appears on the web page (and it comes up instantly) you can tap on the device icon, select the file that you want to share from your device, and send it. You will be able to see the sharing progress which is indicated by a blue ring that starts to form around the device icon that you are sharing the file with. Very AirDrop!
Now you must be wondering how secure is this Web app? Well, Snapdrop is an open-source platform and the developers claim that whatever is shared using the service only gets transferred between the two devices, and no data is ever shared with any server or cloud. To top that, the web app does not use any cookies and because there is no signup process, there is essentially no database. And if you still have your doubts, the developers have provided a link to their Server, if you ever wish to check! Files on Snapdrop are shared using WebRTC which means they are encrypted, making the platform extremely safe.
The Heel of this
This might be sounding like what hassle-free file transferring dreams are made of. But Snapdrop has its shares of limits. Because this is a Web app, to use it, you require a steady Internet connection. Snapdrop also uses a person-to-person network, which means the two devices sharing files need to be running on the same Internet connection. This makes the option very proximate and limiting in terms of sheer distance. Some would say it also requires a Wi-Fi connection, but then, if you do not have a common one then you can simply switch the phone to hotspot mode and make your own for a short duration!
Another issue that can come up (even though the chances are slim) is that if multiple people have the web app open in the same building using the same Wi-fi connection (like in a cafe or an office), then it might lead to some serious confusion, as a number of devices will show up and we could not really spot a way to name devices (another shortcoming of sorts, although some say they have been able to do so). Finally, transfer speeds can be a bit erratic – sometimes files went in seconds, and sometimes they just seemed to get stuck a little.
Still, all said and done, its sheer simplicity and ability to work on any platform make Snapdrop a pretty amazing Web app. No downloads, no logins, nothing. Just a URL.Just click and share! How cool is that? When we have a file to share with someone close by, this is going to be one of our preferred ways to, well, share it. Pun…intended!