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    Amazingly fast and file transfer with Send Anywhere

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    I don't typically think of moving files between devices as being very difficult. Then again, I'm an old geezer and remember "sneakernet"-moving files by physically carrying them around on floppy discs because there was no network. It's really not that hard to transfer files anymore and there are lots of ways to easily send them pretty much wherever we want. Send Anywhere, however, surprised me with a different approach to secure, point-to-point file transfers between computers or mobile devices. The Send Anywhere app is free and requires iOS 5.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and is also available for Android, Windows, and on the Mac through the browser. The iOS app is optimized for iPhone 5.

    The app claims to have been created for "simple, unlimited, instant file transfer." That's still needed in a world where not everyone is using an iOS device. Between iPhones and iPads you can use AirDrop. You can also just email or transfer many files using SMS, or use Dropbox (but then again, not everyone does). Considering that, as well as file size limitations, it really is useful to be able to send a single file one device or computer to another, directly, without uploading anything to some server.

    There's also the matter of security. Email and SMS are "in the open," meaning that the contents of their messages are easily readable by others. If you are concerned about privacy and security, you need to take extra measures. Send Anywhere uses SSL and a 6-digit key for standard transfers and offers enhanced security keys as well. Files are transferred, not stored on any servers. All transfers are only available for a limited time, the default being 10 minutes. That's all good news.

    To use Send Anywhere devices do need to be online for transfer files. It does not use any direct networking, like Bluetooth. But both devices are on the same local network then your file will not travel out onto the larger internet.

    It's not often that a piece of software surprises me, but Send Anywhere managed it. I loaded the free app on both my iPhone and my iPad and then transferred photos between them easily. I then visited Send-Anywhere.com on my Mac. I dropped a file into the Send box and clicked the Send files button. Here's where the surprise hit me: there was my iPhone listed as under "Nearby devices." Very cool (NOTE: your device must be turned on and the app launched for this to work). A simple click on my listed phone and I instantly received a notification about the file.

    Nearby devices

    That little bit of unexpected nicety was a pleasant surprise. I was more skeptical about the QR code. I typically find them annoying and useless, but with this app they actually serve a useful function. Say that you and an associate are together and she wants to send you a file. Using Send Anywhere on her device she can display a one-time-use QR code and you, using your device with Send Anywhere, can use your camera to capture the code on her device and initiate the file transfer. Slick.

    It works great, but it may be overkill. If you're together and both have the app launched you should be able to detect each other. Or you could type in the short code number. It worked, but it may not be necessary.

    Receiving File Notification

    There are, however, considerable limitations to Send Anywhere, largely due to how files are used on most mobile devices. iOS is built to largely give you access to desecrate files outside of specific apps. With Send Anywhere you can send and receive photos, videos, and contact records, but that's about it on iOS devices. You can send files that you've received from someone else, but not a file that you might have somewhere else on your device. You can't send music, but you might be able to receive it if sent from another device, although you won't be able to move it to your Music library.

    I was able to successfully send photos and PDFs between iOS devices and my Mac and it was very easy. I was not able to successfully send a Pages document. I tried sending different Pages files multiple times from my Mac to my iOS devices and each time the transfer ended with an error. I could successfully send and receive Microsoft Word documents between devices.

    I'm forced to conclude that however surprising and nifty this app is that there's really not much use for it. If you do find that you need to frequently transfer files between devices and can't easily do it with email, SMS, or through online storage like Dropbox, then you might find Send Anywhere useful. I'm certain that you'll find it well made and very easy to use.

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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