Transfer Files The Easy Way With Instashare

iOS isn’t the most convenient operating system when it comes to sending files. You could rely on online solutions, such as Dropbox and Skydrive, or a good old cable to share files with your iPad, but these methods are restrictive and inconvenient.

If you’re a Mac user, you’ve probably heard of AirDrop, a useful feature built into OS X that lets you wirelessly share files between Macs without any set up. Instashare does just that on several platforms: it’s the easiest way to transfer files from a device to another, no matter what operating system you’re using.

Like this article? Stay up to date with the latest changes by subscribing to our RSS feed or by following us either on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or App.net.

The Basics

Instashare is all about simplicity: it requires little setup and configuration. The only step you have to go through to have it running is to install the application on the devices you’re going to be sending files to and from. No other action is required once this process has been completed: the application will automatically detect and recognize devices on the same network that are also running Instashare. You guessed it, the app does require you to be on the same WiFi network, but can also work using a Bluetooth connection in case WiFi isn’t an option. As for the platforms, Instashare currently supports iOS and Mac OS X, but will soon extend support to Android and Windows, making it a truly cross-platform solution.

Sending Files

As mentioned above, sharing files is very easy and simple with Instashare. All you have to do is open the application, select the files you want to share and drag and drop them on the device you want to send the files to. The application shows the list of available devices on the right and lets you pick the files you want to send from the left. Instashare lets you select several files at once so you can transfer them all together to any device you want.

Transferring files is as easy as dragging and dropping

Transferring files is as easy as dragging and dropping

When sending files to other devices, you’ll be presented with an on-screen notification letting you know that another device — its name will be shown in the notification — wants to share a file with you. The prompt also contains information on the number of files that are being sent and their total size. You’ll be able to accept the file transfer and even mark the sending device as trusted, so future transfers can occur without you having to confirm them. In case you’re wondering about speed, Instashare needed a couple of minutes to transfer an 800 MB file from my Mac to my iPad, which is more than acceptable for such a large file.

Incoming file transfer on a Mac

Incoming file transfer on a Mac

Limitations

Simplifying an app usually means missing features or hard to find options. Instashare doesn’t have any of these but is still a couple of steps away from perfection, especially when it comes to what can actually be sent and the platforms that are currently supported.

The most annoying restriction the application has on iOS is the type of file you can send: it only supports photos for outbound transfers. You can, however, send various types of files to your iPad from other devices, which can be accessed from within the app. You can open these files, share them using third party apps, and even send back to other devices using Instashare. The latter makes it hard to understand why you can only send pictures when browsing your iPad’s content, while the app does support other file formats.

The Files tab shows received files. They can be opened, shared with 3rd party apps and resent

The Files tab shows received files. They can be opened, shared with 3rd party apps and resent

Another — temporary — restriction is the limited number of ecosystems that are supported. Indeed, Instashare can only work with iOS and Macs for the time being, even though support for Android and Windows is expected. Currently, the app lets you share files between iOS and OS X, and added support will also mean you’ll be able to share a movie from your Mac to your iPad, and send it back to your phone from your tablet.

Lastly, Instashare displays very little details on the files that are sent and the status of the transfer. When you look at the Files tab, you can only see the name, type and size of the file, but no option to reveal further information, such as the date it was sent or created etc. Worse, when sharing files, there is no way to know how long it’s going to take! Your only clue is the progress bar that appears during the transfer, but doesn’t show any estimated remaining time or percentage, no matter if you’re looking on the sending or receiving device — in my case, I sent a file form my Mac to my iPad.

No information on what's being transferred is provided

No information on what’s being transferred is provided

Final Thoughts

Instashare is definitely a great and simplistic way to share files across devices and — soon — across platforms. There are still some finishing touches that should be considered in future versions, such as an estimated time of the transfer and, most importantly, the ability to send more than mere pictures from your iOS device. In any case, this is definitely a good start and I’m now hoping for even better features in the upcoming versions.


Summary

Essentially AirDrop for iOS, Instashare is a cross-platform and easy way to transfer files across devices.

8