While many people think of "file sharing" as "the way people get access to free movies and music through less than scrupulous means," there are a lot of applications for file sharing out there that have little to do with such things. Sharing something like a photo or an address book contact or even a document falls under file sharing as well, and it's a process that's getting a lot easier with several mobile technology efforts.
Android (News - Alert) mobile technology has some of the greatest advantages when it comes to file transfer. Some phones have near-field communication (NFC) chips in them that allow for direct, ultra-short-range--the phones have to be very close, even touching by some reports, to affect an NFC transfer--transfer of various small files. But only some Android devices have the technology at all, and iPhones are completely without it.
An app known as Bump, for iPhone (News - Alert) and Android devices, may help bridge the NFC gap. It too, however, requires close proximity for both the sender and the receiver. However, another app known as Xsync may well make the whole thing a lot easier thanks to its use of what are called quick response (QR) codes. QR codes are those squares of various black and white pixels in a wide variety of combinations that, when shown to the camera of a mobile device, can activate several effects. In Xsync's case, a QR code is generated whenever someone wants to transfer a file, be it a document, picture, song or the like. Once that code is generated, the intended recipient can take a picture of the QR code in question and activate the file transfer. While it too is intended for a close-range transfer, it's worked at long range easily; one user describes holding up the QR code on a Skype (News - Alert) call, and the recipient taking a picture of that QR code and receiving the file.
Image via https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/xsync-with-dropbox-and-paypal/id464201801?mt=8
Xsync is currently available for iPhones, and is scheduled to be available for Android devices by the end of the quarter. Android devices can, however, still use the software for receiving if they can handle QR codes right now. They just won't be able to send files via that method until the full software is released.
Early reports say that using Xsync is both easy and secure, with a lot of different potential applications. The security comes in on two fronts: one, the QR codes offer a level of encryption, and two, the file transfers themselves are commonly short-lived. Photo transfers, for example, might only be available for a day before expiring and becoming just a block of black and white art. There's even a way to use Xsync transfers to initiate transfers of cash from one PayPal (News - Alert) account to another, but here an added authentication step comes into play for further protection.
The potential for misuse here, however, is somewhat high--what's to stop a message board service or the like from having these temporary codes established by which someone could download the last "Game of Thrones" episode or the like and just resetting the codes each morning, or make them permanent--but the potential for legitimate use is equally high. The ease of passing around photos to friends and family, the ease of sharing documents at work, or even well away from work, is the kind of thing that makes such a service a powerful tool.
Just where Xsync and the like will ultimately go remains to be seen, but the program itself is sufficiently rich with possibility that it bears watching.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman