Android needs to dump Beam, Adopt AirDrop Technology

Remember Beam? Back in 2011 it showed so much promise. Just bump your phones together, and you'll instantly be able to transfer files in seconds.

Well, it didn't quite workout that way. In practice, using Beam is a serious pain.

Lets say I'm trying to send a friend a photo via Beam. The process usually consists of this:

To send files in Beam

1. Tap phones together. Nothing happens. We both dig through settings to discover one of us had NFC turned off to save battery. Turn on NFC.

2. Bump phones together again. Cool beam animation pops up. Tap the screen to start beam. Right about now, it looks like it's about to work. But wait! It didn't work. We get a mysterious "file transfer failed error". After some troubleshooting, we discover we both need to turn on Bluetooth.

3. Try again. It no work. Apparently, since my friend is using a Samsung phone and I'm using a Nexus, he has to turn off S-beam. Not quite sure of S-beam needs to be turned off, but it worked so why not try it.

4. We try again. Usually at this point, due to the awkward way we have to hold phones to bump, one of us accidentally taps something on the screen and the file we want to transfer disappears. Find the file again.

5. This time it will work fine. Tap phones together with the correct photo selected. The cool Beam animation pops up. We both awkwardly maneuver our index finger to tap the screen to confirm the beam. Beam animation disappears from screen. We look at each other wondering what has happened. We have no indication of what is going on. After about 10 seconds, a downloading bar appears on screen. The loading bar shows no indication of progress; it's just blinking rapidly

6. Wait about 45 seconds. "File transfer failed. Unknown error" pops up in notifications.

7. Start screaming at each other. Try again.

8. This time a proper loading bar, with progress appears on screen. It takes about 40 seconds to transfer the image. Success! Give each other congratulatory high fives for a job well done.

9. But wait, two other friend wants a copy of the image too. Repeat steps 2 through 8 again.

10. Get frustrated, collect email addressees and send via Gmail.

Wasn't that easy? I don't know if I'm just having exceptionally bad luck with Android Beam, but this has happend just about every time I've tried to use it to send files to a friend. Not once can I say I had a "stress free" experience with Beam.

To send files with AirDrop

Now, in iOS 7, this is what you need to do.

1. Pop up control center. Turn on AirDrop if it's not on.

2. Open sharing menu, tap share via AirDrop, tap the profile pictures of all the nearby friends you want to transfer files to.

3. Wait about 1.5 seconds or so.

4. Done.

AirDrop was first introduced back in 2011 with Mac OS X Lion. It works by using WiFi Personal Area Networks (PAN) to communicate directly (without a wireless router) with nearby Macs, iPhone, iPad and iPods. And if you are connected to a wireless router, the Apple device you're transferring files from will rapidly switch between connecting to the router and the device you're transferring files to. This means that you can maintain an internet connection while using the relatively fast WiFi connection to transfer files in seconds. On the other hand, with Beam, all Google has done is detect when two phones are tapped together and pray that they'll be able to establish a Bluetooth connection and that the transfer doesn't time out or drop. Clearly, Apple has done a much better with this. It's faster, safer, more reliable and more user friendly. I would love to see Google implement the same technology in 4.3. If they did, I'd actually use the thing.


That's all.