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7/11/2011
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OS X Lion First Look: AirDrop

Here's a first look at the new AirDrop feature is OS X 10.7 Lion.

BYTE -- OS X 10.7 Lion features AirDrop, a way to wirelessly share files. But it isn't immediately clear what the limits are in terms of location and distance.

Turns out you need to be pretty darn close. We've haven't tested it extensively yet, but early indications show you need to be pretty much in the same room as the person you're trading files with.

Here's how it works. AirDrop's technology is peer-to-peer Wi-Fi between two Macs running OS X Lion, So you don't need a special network or special settings to get it working.

OS X Lion automatically discovers compatible Macs around you that are using AirDrop. Once they connect, Finder displays contact photos for both users.

Here's how its drag-and-drop file sharing works. Open a new Finder window and click AirDrop. You will see all of the available Macs around you.


Grab one or more documents that you want to share and drop them onto a target Mac's displayed user image. This is what sending one file looks like.


And another sending multiple files:


Click Send or Cancel to abort.


Senders must wait for recipients to accept the file transfer:


On the receiving end, hit Save and Open, Decline or Save the file. It saves your files to your Downloads folder, inside your Home folder.


If the recipient declines, you'll see this:


Overlook the proximity requirements and AirDrop isn't half bad. It's a bit annoying that AirDrop won't work from one side of the house to the other. You'll need traditional Wi-Fi for that. Hopefully, Apple will improve this distance requirement down the road. Some other things to know about the new AirDrop feature:

- It supports encrypted file transfers using TLS. - AirDrop appears to create a firewall between users to third-parties from taking advantage of the open connection.

- Once you close the Finder window that is open to AirDrop, other AirDrop users can't see your Mac.

- AirDrop identifes users by Apple ID. If these are in your Address Book. you'll see names below photos during AirDrop sharing.

- Cancel large or long incoming file transfers via the Downloads stack. Just click the X that appears next to the downloading file.

- AirDrop is available when you see this icon in Finder with the circulating radar symbol.


- AirDrop isn't available when you see this icon in Finder with the box and parachute.


Based in Kemah, TX, David Martin is a senior contributor at BYTE. Follow him @David_W_Martin or email him at David.Martin@BYTE.com.

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