The upcoming OS X Lion will include a new way of sharing documents with friends and family who are on the same Wi-Fi network. By selecting a new AirDrop menu option, users will be able to send documents by dragging and dropping the document onto the picture of other users who are running Lion’s AirDrop nearby. Both sender and recipient will be able to confirm transfers before a document is sent, after which the document will appear in the recipient’s Downloads folder.
AirDrop will be based on peer-to-peer networking, thus simplifying setup. The new system has some similarities to Bonjour, Apple’s “service discovery” system for networked computers, printers and other devices, and to third-party “zero-configuration” networks like Hamachi, but unfortunately, will not be available outside of one’s own Wi-Fi network.
With AirDrop and protocols such as Wi-Fi Direct and Qualcomm’s FlashLinq technology, the rise of P2P networking protocols between devices is growing rapidly. Such technology will be increasingly important in adding intelligence and awareness to our gadgets as we bring more and more connected devices into our homes.
Now that the value of connecting a device to the Internet is undisputed, the idea of connecting those devices together makes sense. So while AirDrop and effortless file sharing is the killer app today, expect smarter devices and sharing to arise that take advantage of this type of technology. With AirDrop, Apple may be the company that makes P2P networking between devices accessible for the masses.