File sharing is an essential feature that we expect to find on all mobile devices. But when it comes to Apple, file sharing options are fairly restricted within its own ecosystem. This could be a major turn-off in the current situation, where iOS holds less than 30% of the global smartphone market share. But there are, in fact, convenient ways to share files among iOS and other smartphone platforms (like Android, Windows Phone, etc.). In this article, we’ll explore some of them.
Transfer files between iOS devices (iOS <> iOS)
File sharing is quite easy within the Apple ecosystem. You get native support for sharing files between iPhones, iPads, iPods (Touch) or even Macs. There are primarily two ways to transfer files between iOS devices, even without the Internet.
Share files via AirDrop
AirDrop is Apple’s proprietary ad-hoc service available on iOS devices since iOS 7 (iPhone 5 onwards). It internally uses WiFi (WiFi Direct) together with Bluetooth, to connect and share files between supported iOS devices and Macs.
You can follow the official AirDrop support page for details on sharing content using AirDrop. A file manager app (like Documents) comes handy for sharing a variety of file types with other iOS devices over AirDrop.
Share files via Bluetooth
AirDrop requires WiFi Direct supported hardware, which is not available on older iOS devices (such as iPhone 4S). So, for sharing content with such devices, Bluetooth is a convenient option. There are a few Bluetooth based file sharing apps available on the App Store. Some of the Bluetooth file sharing apps available on the App Store include FileManager, File Hub, etc.
For sharing files, turn on Bluetooth and use the same Bluetooth sharing app on both the devices (sender and receiver). From the sending device, you can share photos, videos and files stored in the local storage of the Bluetooth sharing app. Received files will also be stored in the app’s local storage on the receiving device.
Transfer files between iOS and non-iOS devices
The above mentioned file sharing options are only available among iOS devices. When sharing files with other devices (Android, Windows Phone, etc.), you have two options here as well – via the Internet or via WiFi (without Internet).
Share files over the Internet
For sharing files via Internet, you can use any cross-platform online service that allows you to share content with other people. WhatsApp is one such popular service that allows you to share photos, music or videos with your contacts. But, if you want to share other types of files, SendAnywhere is a decent service for this purpose.
SendAnywhere is available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and as a Chrome extension. It also has a web version for unsupported platforms like Blackberry. To send and receive files using SendAnywhere, you need to install and open the app or website on both the devices.
Using SendAnywhere on iOS, you can send photos and videos from the Camera Roll and any file stored in the app’s local storage. If the file you want to share is not available in the local storage, you can import them using iTunes File Sharing or the Open In feature (if available) from other installed apps. On Android and Windows Phone, you can select files to send from your device by browsing through the accessible storage locations.
On the receiving end, files shared from other devices can be viewed within the app. On iOS, received files are stored in the app’s local storage, whereas on Android and Windows Phone, they are stored in a predefined location. You can find out the location of the stored files from the app-specific Settings.
Share files over WiFi (without Internet)
Sharing files over the Internet might not be feasible in all situations, especially when a considerable amount of data is being transferred. Such transfers are often time consuming and involve significant use of Internet bandwidth.
In such cases, a WiFi network can be used to share files between connected devices without the Internet. The WiFi network may either be hosted by an external wireless access point (WiFi router), or by one of the file sharing devices, via WiFi Direct technology.
Share files over WiFi using external WiFi hotspot
WiFi hotspots are common in home and public areas these days. And you may take advantage of these hotspots to share files between devices connected within the same WiFi network, without using the Internet.
SHAREit from Lenovo, is a decent cross-platform app for sharing files over WiFi, which is available for Windows Desktop, Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. Platforms that do not have a native SHAREit app, can access and transfer files via web interface (WebDAV). The steps below will guide you to share files between iOS and the Android or Windows Phone devices over WiFi, using SHAREit.
- Download and install SHAREit on the both devices that you want to transfer files between.
- Connect the devices to the same WiFi network and open the SHAREit app on both.
- On the sending device, tap on the SEND icon and select the file to send. Once the file is selected, tap on OK or Next to proceed.
- On the receiving device, tap on the RECEIVE button. The receiving device should now be displayed on the sender’s screen.
- Back on the sending device, tap on the receiver’s avatar to send the file.
The file will be sent to the receiver and stored in the app’s local storage (on iOS) or a predefined location (on Android and Windows Phone). Check the app settings to find out the save location.
Note: On an Android or Windows Phone device, you can choose the file to send from the photo or video library as well as via the file browser. On iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can send files from the Camera Roll or in-app storage.
If the file you want to send is not available in these locations, you can import it to SHAREit’s local storage via iTunes File Sharing or by using the “Open In” option of another app, containing the desired file.
If you are sharing files with a platform that doesn’t have the SHAREit app, open the app on the iOS device, tap on the Hamburger menu and select Connect PC. An IP address will be displayed on screen. On the other device, open up a web browser and type in the IP address.
To send a file from the iOS device, place it in the SHAREit’s local storage and let the other device download it via the web interface. Similarly, to receive a file on the iOS device, the other device needs to upload it via the same interface.
Share files over WiFi without a WiFi network
If there is no WiFi hotspot available in the vicinity, you can take the advantage of WiFi Direct to host a WiFi network on one of the file sharing devices. The other device can then join this hosted network, and file transfer can occur in the same way as mentioned in the previous section, using SHAREit app.
Note: For hosting a WiFi hotspot, the platform must have support for WiFi Direct. Android supports WiFi Direct from version 4.0 (ICS) onwards, while all Windows Phone devices running Windows Phone 8.1 or higher supports WiFi Direct technology. On iOS, AirDrop uses WiFi Direct internally for sharing files among AirDrop enabled devices.
Even though iOS support WiFi Direct, Apple does not allow third party apps to control this feature. Hence, for sharing files with iOS without an external WiFi hotspot, the WiFi network has to be hosted by the other device (Android, Windows Phone, etc.). The iOS device needs to manually join the hosted network in order to send and receive files, using the SHAREit app.
Transfer files from iOS to Android
For sharing files from iOS to Android via WiFi Direct, you can follow the steps given below:
- Download SHAREit app on both devices from the respective app stores.
- On Android, open SHAREit and tap on RECEIVE option.
- If no WiFi network is available, SHAREit will create its own WiFi hotspot (WiFi Direct).
- Once the hotspot is started, on your iOS device, go to Settings >> Wi-Fi. Make sure WiFi is turned on and select the hosted network from under CHOOSE A NETWORK section.
- When the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is connected to the network hosted by SHAREit on the Android device, open the SHAREit app on iOS and tap on the SEND button.
- Choose a file to send from photos, videos or in-app storage. If the file you want to send is not available in these locations, import the file to the local storage of the app using iTunes File Sharing option or the Open In feature of another app.
- Once the file is selected, you should be able to see the receiver’s device on the screen. Tap on the receiver to send the file.
Transfer files from Android to iOS
If you want to send files from Android to iOS over WiFi Direct, follow the steps given below:
- Download SHAREit app on both the devices from the respective app stores.
- On Android, open SHAREit and tap on SEND option.
- Select a file to send from the Android device and tap on Next.
- SHAREit will try to search for peers in the vicinity. On this screen, pull up the menu from the bottom of the screen and choose the receiver’s device type as iOS. SHAREit will now start a WiFi hotspot on the Android device.
- On the iOS device, go to Settings >> Wi-Fi. Make sure WiFi is turned on and select the hosted network from under CHOOSE A NETWORK section.
- When the iOS device is connected to the hosted WiFi, open the SHAREit app on it and tap the RECEIVE button.
- On the Android device, the receiver’s iOS device should now appear on screen. Tap on the receiver to send the file.
Share files between iOS and Windows Phone
Even though WiFi Direct option is not available under the Settings menu on Windows Phone, there is a small trick to enable and use the WiFi Direct feature. The feature is hidden under the name of Internet Sharing.
Sure, Internet Sharing option is ideally used to tether the cellular data connection over WiFi, but the WiFi network hosted from the Windows Phone uses WiFi Direct technology. And you can use it to transfer files between itself and another device wirelessly without consuming cellular data.
The below steps will guide you to share files between iOS and Windows Phone devices using SHAREit app.
- Download SHAREit app on both the devices from the respective app stores.
- On Windows Phone, go to Settings >> cellular+SIM (or mobile+SIM) and turn on Data connection.
- Next, go to Settings >> internet sharing and turn on Sharing. The hosted WiFi name (Broadcast name) and password will be displayed below.
- On the iOS device, go to Settings >> Wi-Fi. Make sure WiFi is turned on and select shared WiFi network from under CHOOSE A NETWORK section.
Once the iOS device is connected to the WiFi hotspot created by Windows Phone, you can send and receive files on the iOS device using the SHAREit app in the same way as mentioned in the previous section.
Share music from iOS to another iOS, Android or Windows Phone
You might probably know that iOS does not allow sharing of files from the Music Library. But if you want to share music anyway, you can do so with the help of a third party app with Music Library access and Open In feature.
A number of apps (such as WorkFlow, iTransfer PRO, etc.) can help you to export songs (using Open-in) from the iOS Music library into the SHAREit app. Once the music files are available in SHAREit’s local storage, you can transfer it to other devices via SHAREit in the same way as mentioned before.
If WiFi Direct support is not available on the non-iOS device, a portable MiFi device can be used to host the WiFi network instead. A (charged) Power Bank along with the MiFi device can help you set up an instant plug-n-play WiFi hotspot.
Do you know of any other workaround to send and receive files on iOS devices? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.