AirDrop: the Unsung Hero of Apple’s Utilities

Apple’s file and image sharing utility has more uses than you’d imagine

Apple’s AirDrop has, in the six years since Apple introduced it with iOS 7, become part of the cultural landscape. And yet I still run into people who’ve never heard of it, don’t know how to use it, or have no idea why they would.

From a technical perspective, AirDrop is a canny mix of three core technologies: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and encryption. AirDrop uses the iPhone’s Bluetooth to discover other nearby iPhones. Wi-Fi, which offers faster throughput than Bluetooth, is then used to make a peer-to-peer direct connection between two or more phones. Files and photos transferred between phones are encrypted for security, meaning no one can grab a file mid-stream and read or view it unless it’s intended for them. 

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