Transferring files across devices can be a pain, especially when they run on separate platforms. One of the most common ways to share from a device to another without having to unpack wires, is to either email the file to yourself so you can open it on the second device, or to upload it to your Dropbox and re-download the file on the other device.
Not only is this time-consuming, it requires an internet connection and has serious limitations when it comes to file sizes and types. Thanks to Instashare, you can send files to almost any device instantly without having to worry about wires, file size or compatibility.
The main characteristic of Instashare is its simplicity. Indeed, the app doesn’t require any setup and is simply ready to use as soon as it’s installed — you obviously still need to install it on both the sending and receiving devices.
Once it’s downloaded though, it works very much like Apple’s AirDrop, as it lets you send and receive any type of file with nearby devices, without having to worry about anything else. What’s even better is that Instashare can be used on several platforms, including Android, iOS, OSX, with Windows support coming soon. All you need to do is have Instashare on both devices, and be connected to the same WiFi network, the rest is all taken care of by the app.
Sending a file from your Android device to a nearby phone, tablet or computer is extremely easy: as Instashare integrates with Android’s share menu, you can send files from virtually any application. If the application lets you select several files at once, you can send them all together without having to repeat the process for each file. Also, if the file you’d like to share is a picture, Instashare can detect the content of your clipboard and let you send it instantly, without even having to look for the original file.
No matter which method you use to send files, Instashare will automatically detect devices on the same network and recently used ones. All you have to do is make sure the receiving device is connected the the same network and is running Instashare, and the rest is managed directly by the application.
Receiving files is also a breeze: by default, Instashare will be an always-on service so that nearby devices can detect your phone or tablet without you having to launch the app. Of course, you can deactivate the service, which will make your device invisible until you manually launch the application.
In both cases, you’ll be prompted to accept the incoming transfer before anything is sent to your phone. If you plan to receive files frequently from a device, you can set it as trusted by clicking Always Allow. This way, you will not be asked again for incoming transfers from this specific device — you can undo this in the Settings.
Last by not least, there are no restrictions on file types and their size. This means you can send anything to your phone and use it as a network drive, even if you don’t plan to open the file on your mobile device.
Unfortunately, not everything is great with Instashare, as the app may sometimes lead to frustration by aiming for too much simplicity. The first drawback is that the app only works over WiFi, because it’s the fastest and most reliable way to wirelessly transfer files. Nevertheless, if you’re stuck somewhere with no WiFi and want to share files across devices, you’ll simply have to find another way, as other transfer methods, such as Bluetooth, aren’t supported — probably because setting them up requires much more user input than WiFi.
Moreover, the interface itself is perfectible, as there is no estimation of the remaining time for an ongoing transfer. Sure, this is no big deal when you’re sending 5 pictures, but it becomes much more useful when we’re talking about a one-hour video. Similarly, the list of received files doesn’t show the date the file was sent, which makes it much harder to track.
Lastly, while the mobile app can be either free and ad-supported or ad-free for $0.99, the Mac client costs $2.99, with no free version — it used to be free a few months ago. You guessed it, you can’t transfer files with your computer if you don’t bite the bullet and pay, which I find to be misleading, as the mobile app itself is free. There is also no Windows client just yet, but the developers are working hard on releasing one soon.
Instashare is definitely one of the simplest ways to share files across devices and platforms. I still haven’t found a better way to send files from my Android phone to my iPad, and I also enjoy the simplicity of the application to share files with my Mac.
Nevertheless, the application can sometimes be too simple and omit to display relevant details, such as remaining transfer time or more information of completed transfers. With the exception of these minor details, Instashare remains my number one recommendation when it comes to file transfer, no matter the device.