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Simple mobile file sharing grows up: Meet the new wave of phone-to-phone apps

Mark Sullivan | July 9, 2013
It's 2013, and we carry little computers in our pockets everywhere we go. We live in a world that's more connected and social than ever before. But, inexplicably, we still can't use our smartphones to share our data, files, and memories with each other easily and seamlessly without using email or some type of formal cloud service like Google Drive or Microsoft's SkyDrive.

It's 2013, and we carry little computers in our pockets everywhere we go. We live in a world that's more connected and social than ever before. But, inexplicably, we still can't use our smartphones to share our data, files, and memories with each other easily and seamlessly without using email or some type of formal cloud service like Google Drive or Microsoft's SkyDrive.

Phone-to-phone file sharing hasn't yet caught on--seriously, are you using it yet?--but the biggest name in mobile hardware is finally waking up to its utility. At WWDC a few weeks ago, Apple trotted out iOS 7, and one of the mobile operating system's new features is AirDrop, which permits one iOS 7 device to directly share files with other iOS 7 devices. Google built mobile file sharing into Android 4.0 last year.

This idea of "simple mobile sharing" has been around since the early days of Bluetooth, but using it in the real world has always been a hassle, and as a result it has never really caught on. Honestly, when was the last time you bumped or tossed or beamed your contact information to someone at a party or conference?

But a new wave of simple mobile sharing apps--let's call it mobile sharing 2.0--is ironing out some of the hassle, and adding cool features to the basic one-to-one sharing model that Bump introduced four years ago. New apps like Hoccer and Phrizbe make it fairly easy for you to walk into mixed company, and share content with pretty much any creed of smartphone in the room.

New simple mobile sharing apps
Neither Hoccer nor Phrizbe requires Bluetooth--each can send files to other devices via Wi-Fi or cellular network. Instead of sharing files directly, Hoccer uses an intermediary server to push files to the receiving device. Phrizbe can work through an intermediary server, too, but it can also share files via a direct peer-to-peer connection over Wi-Fi. Apple AirDrop, meanwhile, uses Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to support direct sharing with other iOS devices.

AirDrop, Hoccer, and Phrizbe don't require physical contact between two smartphones. You can execute the share with just a few taps on your screen, and you can forget about email and drop boxes entirely.

Phrizbe is a relatively new player in the space--the service launched at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC at the end of April. Like Bump and Hoccer, Phrizbe has taken pains to move from being strictly a mobile platform to connecting with PCs. The company has only recently finished its Windows 8 app, which runs on desktop PCs and tablets.

 

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