In the absence of reliable figures from Apple, it is not much more than conjecture to say that AirDrop is likely a feature often neglected by the average iOS user. The gut feeling persists though, simply based on day to day observations, and it is a tenable position to take until proven wrong by Cupertino or another reputable source. The file transfer protocol is indeed handy for the transfer of heavier media files (e.g. videos, photo albums), but often only becomes relevant to us when we for example have upgraded to a new device.

Next to sheer transmission speed however, there are other notable areas where AirDrop has the clear edge when it comes to sharing all kinds of material from your iPhone. The AirDrop icon has now fully permeated the sharing tab in iOS 10’s user interface and that is for a good reason: it is without fail going to be more nimble than iMessage, Mail or other contenders, often actually skipping steps that would throttle the process elsewhere. Such being the case, here are some unique scenarios where AirDrop excels on your iPhone and why you should try to embrace the feature more regularly.

Sharing Safari links

When added to the UI a few years back, many users must have wondered who on earth would want to AirDrop a Safari website. If not in practice, at least in theory the answer should be: everyone. A tap on the share icon in the bottom bar of Safari, followed by a touch on your friend’s circular icon is literally all it takes for the receiver’s iPhone to automatically pop open the page in question. By way of contrast, sharing a link through iMessage or any other app means sending out a link first, which for the recipient most often means switching to such app, hitting the link, then being redirected to Safari. What sounds like no big deal is nevertheless a perceivable difference when you try it – AirDropping links is super speedy and swiftly eliminates a step between sending and opening.

Sharing Contacts

Similar to the Safari case, sharing Contacts is fairly straightforward and has probably been executed a couple of thousand times worldwide since you started reading this sentence. Alas, it is just as certain that only a small fraction of these contact cards have been transferred by means of AirDrop.

Why is that unfortunate you ask? Because the AirDrop mechanism once more is superior: sending it via iMessage and the like implicates opening iMessage and touching the card, which will subsequently pull up the contact and ask you to Create New Contact or Add to Existing Contact. After choosing, you are prompted to edit and save the card. Contrary to that, accept the Contact card via AirDrop and you will have the simple option to Save the card in the top right corner. Done.

Sharing Apps

Just like with links in Safari, sharing an app (either via the App Store, or 3D Touch on iPhone) through AirDrop cuts out the intermediate step of having to physically open the link on the receiving device. Hit share, tap the recipient’s bubble and watch his or her iPhone jump from the home screen straight to the recommended app. It’s as effortless as it gets and straight up cool.

Sharing Podcasts

This section should probably be titled Did you know that you can share a Podcast? instead. Anyways, you can. And if you ever feel the need to, try to use AirDrop if circumstances permit. In line with the previous examples, sharing by means of AirDrop eliminates the middle man and circumnavigates any other app that would merely dispatch a link. If you want to make sure the Podcast of your choosing is for sure looked at by the recipient, AirDrop will take care of it. If accepted on the receiving end, the phone will directly launch the Podcast’s page.

Apple Music Albums and Songs

While only pertinent to Apple Music users, this is again the most direct, cheeky and almost intrusive way to impose your musical whims on your friend’s device. A shared album is going to make the recipient’s phone jolt straight to the album. Even better, share a song via AirDrop and if accepted it will immediately start playing the track. If you and a buddy hang out, you can now be the DJ of his or her iPhone… right from your own device. Needless to say how this beats out sharing via iMessage!

There is bound to be more places where AirDrop outpaces other forms of sharing, simply because it has become so deeply embedded in iOS 10. With that in mind, if you have any other AirDrop shortcuts up your sleeve, sound off in the comments!

Also read: AirDrop not working? Try these troubleshooting tips

  • diggitydang

    I love AirDrop… when it works!! So many times, in particular when sharing with my Macbook Pro, AirDrop takes too long to find the devices around me that I am looking to transfer to. Sometimes takes up to a minute or two before it magically appears, and sometimes I just give up and iMessage it to myself (which in itself is annoying to then have to delete the conversation with myself on all devices afterwards).

    • jalexcarter

      I couldnt agree more. I love using airdrop its so quick and easy for sharing photos and large videos without dealing with going through other apps like imessage, quicker to get to and quicker to send equals a win win! but it often doesn’t find the person im trying to send the file to, i try turning on and off wi-fi/bluetooth but still fails about half the time.

      apple probably hasn’t given the feature too much thought after implementing it to make it better or more reliable unfortunately. hopefully its on their to do list!

  • Agneev Mukherjee

    Well, I strongly believe that the “Share […]” button when an app icon is 3D Touched should be removed. Nevertheless, I use AirDrop primarily to copy images to my Mac…

    • jalexcarter

      why should this be removed??? its a completely new action so it didn’t take the place of anything else, and is actually useful for sharing app links. I hated having to go to the app store, find the app i wanted to send someone, then copy the link and share it. the new action cuts it down to pretty much one single step. i love it.

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        It destroys the aesthetics that is found when 3D Touching an app icon…

  • Plsleite

    Lack of bluetooth file transfering between devices still annoys me. I have a mid 2009 Macbook Pro that doesn’t support AirDrop. Must I rely on iTunes to transfer my GoPro videos between my Macbook and my iPhone 6? Is there an easyer way I am missing out?

  • (((Daulphin)))

    For friends hanging out together for an evening, maybe. Otherwise? No way. No discussion of safety. Discoverable to everyone? Contacts only? That’s why it’s always turned off on my iPhone. I have over 200 contacts, few I would let interrupt my day or work flow by making something I did not ask for to just open up on my phone. And frankly, it often doesn’t work at all. Just tried to drop a zip file from my 2013 MacBook Pro to our 2016 iMac yesterday. iMac can find the MacBook Pro, MacBook Pro can’t find the iMac. At home. On the same network. Both configured to be accessible to everyone, finally, and still no iMac. Ended up using old fashioned File Sharing in System Preference and turning on connected servers in the sidebar. Sneaker net would have been faster, but I didn’t have a flash drive handy.

    I volunteer to teach elderly people how to use their iPhones and iPads at our local community center, the ones their kids by them for presents and then go home after halfway setting them up. The last thing they need is their kids or friends dropping something else on them. They are already confused about what shows up on their screens when, unsure if they hit something on the screen and asked it to do something unintentionally, or if what ever is on there should be. Then they get something like this and are completely confused.

    • Samhain Valkyrie

      Patriotic Americans voted your useless ideals out of all three branches of our federal govt. :^D

  • papatonyinsd

    By FAR, the most useful thing about AirDrop is the lack of a SIZE LIMIT! I recorded 47 minutes of high-quality video at a wedding with my iPhone. Then, I borrowed Groom Number One’s iPhone for the trip to the reception. During the trip, I transferred the entire video to his phone via AirDrop. Try THAT with Messages or Mail!

    • RichardRene

      Seems like a different type of wedding…how many grooms where getting married?

      • papatonyinsd

        Welcome to the United States! We have a thing called “same-sex marriage” over here. Also, welcome to 2017!

      • RichardRene

        Lol, oh duh, I wasn’t even thinking along those lines. I was thinking there was multiple people getting married.

  • Dexter SherloConan

    My iPhone 7 Plus (iPhone9,2, D11AP, A1661), iOS 10.1.1 never be detected by other AirDrop devices, like iPhone 7 (iPhone9,3, D101AP, A1778), iOS 10.1.1 or MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch Mid 2014, macOS Sierra 10.12.1. However, it detects others.

  • rafaelpz

    The bad thing about AirDrop is that it can take too long to find another device. More so when there are many iPhones around, I think. I always encourage my friends to use it but sometimes I get people laughing at me, since the iPhone won’t find the other Airdrop enabled device as close as an inch away. When it works, though, it’s pretty fast.