The forthcoming AirDrop functionality in iOS 7 will deliver a straightforward way for some iPhones and iPads to quickly share photos, contacts and more. That's great -- but, aside from the fact that iOS 7 isn't yet generally available, there are a few other flies in the ointment.
Even though iOS 7 will run on devices back to the iPad 2 and iPhone 4, only the latest-gen hardware (iPhone 5, fifth-gen iPod touch and current iPad / iPad mini) are eligible to fling files. AirDrop may not connect your Mac's files and photos to your iPhone, either -- as defined right now, it's iOS to iOS.
That's why the new, free DeskConnect app from Ari "AriX" Weinstein and Ben Feldman is so impressive. DeskConnect, which launched today on both the Mac and iOS App Stores, delivers on the promise of AirDrop while extending the concept of instant, easy sharing to the desktop. DeskConnect supports iOS 6 and devices back to the iPhone 3GS.
The DeskConnect Mac app lives in the menu bar, monitoring the OS X clipboard and the frontmost application window. Sign in to your Desk Connect account on both Mac and iOS, and go to town. Want to send an image to your phone? Drag it to the menu bar, select the iOS device you are targeting and boom. Have a browser open with Google Maps directions to your vacation spot? Click the menu, send to your device and the directions open immediately (in your choice of Apple Maps or Google Maps, if installed). Web links open Safari (or Chrome), and other file types can be opened easily with any appropriate installed iOS app. It's all very quick and very easy.
Going the other direction, iOS devices running the DeskConnect app can share photos, clipboard contents, documents (from apps with a sharing button/Open In option) and websites (with a bookmarklet that works in Safari) with ease. Received items stay in the DeskConnect "tray" for 30 days, and the app can handle and preview any datatype that iOS supports natively. Although the app does work on iPad, it's a 2x iPhone look for the moment; this doesn't really affect functionality, but it does limit the utility of the previews within the app.
I've been pleasantly surprised by DeskConnect's little grace notes. It integrates with the Mac Contacts app, so you can quickly send and dial a phone number in one step. The drag-and-drop file transfer ability is a much, much nicer solution than using iTunes to manage files. The slight rough edges (the iPhone 2x UI on the iPad, inability to track the frontmost window in PowerPoint, an unspecified file size limit on transfers) will all be cleared up in time.
DeskConnect is available from the Mac App Store and in the iTunes App Store now. I encourage you to download and play around!