OS X Lion introduction (AirDrop,  Woman in Office, file transfer 001)

The inability to wirelessly share documents directly between Macs and iOS devices using Wi-Fi Direct, a feature Samsung’s Galaxy S III and some other devices supports, is one of the top complaints on the minds of folks of all stripes. Yes, it is possible to share files through the iTunes jukebox program.

You can also share files via iTunes wirelessly, provided Wi-Fi iTunes Sync is enabled. On the downside, the feature requires a running copy of the iTunes app on your Mac and the experience leaves a lot to be desired due to a pretty slow and unreliable connection.

Meanwhile, the popular Dropbox service Steve Jobs once dismissed as “a feature” is gaining more traction with each passing day, winning crucial support from the ever growing number of third-party apps. Apple may be stuck in the old ways, but under the surface the company’s been quietly putting the pieces of the file sharing puzzle in place…

For example, Wednesday came talk of chip maker Broadcam working with its Cupertino client on rolling out 802.11ac wireless networking across all new Macs going forward. 802.11ac is the upcoming super-fast wireless technology, also know as the fifth-generation Wi-Fi, or 5G Wi-Fi.

It’s a pretty big deal and just the piece of tech Apple needs to make possible super-fast wireless file sharing between devices. 802.11ac is also crucial for more reliable AirPlay connections and faster Internet access.

Matt Brian, writing for The Next Web:

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans have told The Next Web that Apple has struck a deal with chip maker Broadcom to outfit its new Macs with 802.11ac chips. This will provide a much-needed boost for the standard, which is currently undergoing revisions, as electronics manufacturers look to introduce new consumer products capable of supporting high-speed networks.

Although the rumor-mill thought the iPhone 5 would incorporate Broadcom’s latest chip, the BCM4335, Apple opted for Murata’s 339S0171 Wi-Fi module which enables support for 2.4GHz and 5Ghz bands for faster wireless performance.

Most gadgets use 802.11n connectivity that maxes out at 450Mbps with three antennas in place. The super-fast 802.11ac start at 450Mbps, so theoretically you’re looking at up to 1.3Gbps with three antennas.

Apple in the previous-generation iOS devices used Broadcom’s mobile Wi-Fi chips exclusively, and their desktop counterparts inside Macs.

Announced in June 2012, the BCM4335 is a fifth-generation Wi-Fi package fabbed on the 40nm process. It incorporates WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n with integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS and an FM transceiver and has the “industry’s most advanced idle power consumption performance, which significantly extends a mobile device’s battery life”, according to Broadcom.

Conceivably, this piece of silicon could appear in the upcoming iOS devices because Broadcom is ramping up production in Q1 2013, just in time for this year’s iPads.

5G WiFi chart
Broadcom’s 5G Wi-Fi implementation is said to work three times faster than the current standard, promising a streaming video and data syncing experience with transmissions peaking at a theoretical maximum of about one gigabit per second.

Broadcom’s 5G Wi-Fi implementation also enables wireless coverage for HD-quality video and near instantaneous data synch, which should especially benefit the next iteration of the Apple TV set-top box.

If you have an Apple TV, you surely are aware that a typical home 54Mbps congested network often struggles to keep up with the demands of 1080p video and AirPlay streams.

An Apple TV hardware bump up with 802.11ac should do wonders for stutter-free AirPlay in 1080p and remove the annoying lag when playing games on your big screen telly via AirPlay Mirroring.

But hold your horses, Matt writes, the tech’s not ready for prime time yet:

According to our sources, the WiFi chip isn’t currently available and is still in development. As for availability, we have been told that if work goes according to schedule, they should be part of the new line of Mac computers coming in 2013. There is no word on whether Apple will introduce similar chipsets in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Time Capsule or other products.

Now, should Broadcom’s 5G Wi-Fi desktop and mobile chips found their way inside 2013 Macs and iOS devices, it’s fairly safe to speculate that iOS 7 might enable speedy and secure file transfers between 2013 iPhones, iPods and Macs, straight by establishing a direct Wi-Fi connection between devices.

One of the ways of accomplishing this: AirDrop, a Wi-Fi ad-hoc service Apple introduced in OS X Lion in 2011. Here’s one of the more exciting concepts of what AirDrop sharing between your Mac and an iPhone.

That’s just a concept vid, so don’t get excite too much.

All I know is that document transfers between Macs and iOS devices (while bypassing iCloud) should be much simpler than the current clunky implementation of iTunes file sharing.

How do you typically transfer files and documents between your iPhone and a computer?

  • Tr1pTr0p

    AirDrop file sharing? How convenient! That will revolutionize EVERYTHING! When my friends ask me to send them a photo over bluetooth, I always have to reply: “Of course not, this is an iPhone! What did you think?” That is not what I had in mind when I bought a device with the most advanced mobile operating system on the planet.

    • Email the picture then..lol

      • Tr1pTr0p

        OH GEE! Why didn’t I think of that??? -_-

      • I take it that this is not your first iPhone , so your friends should know by now that you can not do that.. If it is your first iPhone congratulations on finding this out.. Bluetooth is not the be all and end all of of file sharing ..

    • I agree with you that the iPhone should come with a more convenient File Sharing system. But bluetooth is not the solution. It was good some years ago, but Bluetooth has served its purpose now. It was good for sharing pictures, pairing with your car, but it’s time to move on from that. Yes, many smartphones still support it, and it’s the way many people use to transfer files, but I really hope they can come up with a better (and UNIVERSAL, not iOS/Mac-only) solution for sending files.

      • Tr1pTr0p

        Bluetooth should retire simply because it’s an old technology? By that logic, so should WiFi and almost everything else out there. It’s incredibly convenient, already wide spread and well adopted, so where in the world is there a need for a new technology?

      • It’s not because it’s old. Bluetooth is not the most reliable way to share files, nor the faster. With the technology we have nowadays, it shouldn’t be easy to find a better way.
        Sure, it’s widespread and that should mean a lot of people could not use it on their current smartphones, but that when of bad things about tech: it’s really hard (and expensive) to keep up to it.

      • Uhm, come again…

      • Ouch, that’s what happens when it’s late and I don’t reread what you write. Here’s what I meant (without all the mistakes).

        It’s not because it’s old. Bluetooth is not the most reliable way to share files, nor the faster. With the technology we have nowadays, it shouldn’t be hard to find a better way.
        Sure, it’s widespread and that should mean a lot of people could not use it on their current smartphones, but that’s one of the bad things about tech: it’s really hard (and expensive) to keep up to it.

    • IOS is too closed for useful file sharing..

  • I think Apple has almost completely complemented AirPlay into iOS devices with iMessage, you can almost share anything with it! For example: Photos, Videos, Text Files, Audio Files, etc.

    • That requires an Internet connection, AirDrop works directly between two devices via wifi

  • Does anyone have any idea when we can expect the new MacBook Pro? I’m after buying one for my new job which starts at the end of Jan but he 2012 ones have been out for a while now haven’t they?

  • Nath
  • Nath
  • Jonathan

    I tweet images just to copy them between my devices.
    I cant wait for AirDrop on iOS, it could be the only new thing in iOS7 and if they charged $5 for the update I’d be the first to download.
    But as usual Apple do something really simple and then kind of stop halfway. For example my brother was on his Mac in another room and I wanted to send him a file, so I immediately thought AirDrop but then realised/remembered that you actually have to be next to each other, even if on the same network (without changing a setting through Terminal), they should also let you pair with other commonly used computers which can receive files over the network without opening airdrop.

  • JamesR624

    I just use “iFiles” app for iPad and iPhone and “macanydrop” for mac to sync folders with dropbox. I have folders in my pictures and documents folders and they exist in those folders as well as dropbox. Not shortcuts but symbolic links so I can have my mac’s file structure completely the way it is but also have those folders and files automatically synced to my dropbox. Now I can access my “mac’s file system” right from my iPhone or iPad in a native UI. Perfect file sync across all my devices and it’s completely seamless.

    An example: I can take a screenshot with grab, it saves right to ~/Pictures/Screenshots. That folder has a symbolic link to ~/Dropbox/Pictures/Screenshots (my home folder and dropbox are set up nearly identically.) That Screenshot folder in my Pictures folder exists right where it is (in ~/Pictures/Screenshots) but simultaneously exists in my dropbox folder (at ~/Dropbox/Pictures/Screenshots) too where I can access it from anywhere.

    • James, I’m very interested in the workflow you describe. I’ve been hoping for such a Dropbox implementation but hadn’t heard of macanydrop. Have you had any syncing or version control issues? Have you tried syncing database files (I’m particularly interested in DEVONThink Pro Office Databases here)… any thoughts about potential issues? Thanks much! ~ Jeremy

    • James, just to confirm, you are using MacDropAny from http://www.zibity.com/macdropany, correct?

  • nima

    My Internet speed is 1mbs

  • DomPerignon1

    iOS 7 next year? R.I.P. jailbroken iPhones 4S and 5. Let’s face it, it is over!