We’ve talked about Google’s plan to release an upcoming feature called Nearby Sharing and I don’t want to undermine how exciting that will be when it does arrive. However, in the meantime, there’s a PWA out there that does much of what Apple’s much-loved Airdrop does and you can use it today, right now, and on just about any device out there. It’s called SnapDrop and it is pretty awesome.
Right up front, I want to make it clear that SnapDrop is a simple service that, while it works very well, doesn’t fully have the security of Airdrop or Nearby Sharing due to one big feature that is currently missing: the ability to change your visibility. Airdrop and Nearby Sharing get by this by using Bluetooth LE to detect the physical proximity of devices before allowing a transfer of files. With SnapDrop, if you have the app open, anyone on the network can send you stuff in any volume or frequency they desire. For secure home or office networks, this is just fine. Just be wary of using this service when on a public WiFi network.
With that caveat out of the way, let’s talk about how fantastic this PWA is. All you have to do is head over to snapdrop.net and you’ll immediately be in the interface. Any other devices on the URL on your local network will show up and you’ll instantly be able to send and receive files to and from those devices. Of course, as any good PWA should, you can choose to install the service on your laptop, Chromebook or phone if you choose, but it works fine either way.
Click on the device you’d like to send to, choose one or many files, and hit send. In seconds, even large files will hit the device you chose and can be accepted or rejected with a single click. For fun, you can right-click or long-press on the device to send them a quick message as well. That’s it. That’s all this PWA does, and it does it all insanely well.
There are zero concerns for privacy, too, since the app doesn’t have a database and none of your stuff ever travels to the server. Instead, the PWA simply acts as the conduit to connect devices over the local WiFi connection. This does mean your stuff is passing through the router, so anyone on the network could intercept it if they know what they are doing. Hence, you need to use this in situations where you are confident of the security of the local network you are on. Apart from that, however, you don’t really have to be concerned with security.
There seems to be an option for device visibility, but there’s no toggle I could find for it. At the bottom of the app’s main screen, you can see the message ‘Allow me to be discovered by: Everyone in this network’ and that prompts me to think there may eventually be an option to be hidden to the public once you select the devices you want to share with. If this does happen, you could conceivably narrow down your options to only your personal devices and using SnapDrop even on public WiFi would be a bit more secure.
Either way, this is a PWA I will be using on a very regular basis moving forward. While I think things like Nearby Sharing and Airdrop are more powerful and feature-filled ways to accomplish a fully-secure wireless sharing experience, there’s so much to love about a service that does what you need, requires no installation, and simply works on nearly any device you need it on. I can’t wait to start introducing it into my workflow, starting with the featured image for this post. Hope it helps some of you out, too!