When will Apple address AirDrop between iOS and OS X?

“Yesterday, Apple released the latest beta version of OS X, 10.9.3 to developers. The newly minted code focuses on graphics and audio driver enhancements, finalizing bug-free support for 4k (UHD) displays,” Mark Reschke writes for T-GAAP. “Really? That’s the focus?”

“I can’t help but wonder if the brain trust at Apple is waning in some functional way. How many tens of millions of times have iOS and OS X users wanted to instantly use AirDrop to move a photo or file from their iOS device to their Mac for editing, file storage or emailing a host of recipients with edits?” Reschke asks. “Of course, this isn’t possible, because AirDrop does not currently work between iOS and OS X, nor does it appear to be on the radar of One Infinite Loop’s management crew.”

Reschke wonders, “How can this be? … Apple has dangled this fantastic AirDrop technology in front of us, but has seemingly zero clue about its major missing link. How can the UNIX core, used for both iOS and OS X, which both contain AirDrop, not work together?! It’s nearly mind boggling this wasn’t priority one iOS 7.0.1 and OS 10.9.1.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. It should already be in there, just today I wanted to send two photos to my desktop and could not find a reason why this is not possible. So I looked on the internet and found out is does not work.

      Silly, by any standard. Sure I understand why I can’t send from Mac to Phone, but from Phone to Mac? All those so proudly stating “never going to happen” did not think this through. I now have to mail myself the photos or some weird other workaround.

      It should have worked the way I discovered it: Airdrop! My first thought was: Of course! Apple has thought of this! I can Airdrop…….that was before I knew the sad truth. I will not resort to “Steve would have…..” but it is NOT the “just works” MO I expect from Apple and why I am willing to pay a premium for a premium product. Too many of these small annoyances make the complete experience less than I would expect.

      Of topic: for work I have an HP notebook, state of the art thing. Windows 8.1. at least 2 times as thick as my MBPrD and Windows 8.1 really is as bad as they say. I want it to work because I need it sometimes, but it is worse than you might think, honestly!

        1. iCloud and iPhoto/Photostream are an option, as well as iMessaging the file to yourself, or emailing it to yourself, and probably a few other alternate ways to send a file between devices. However, multiple steps are involved with each workaround. The glory of the idea of Airdrop is that it’s meant to be an instant, simple, peer to peer transfer… “click, drop, done”. But if it has limits, then it’s useless, since I will always default to whichever solution I know will work, not which one may or may not work.

          Also Airdrop supposedly works from device to device, not over the internet, so if you happen to be somewhere with no internet, you can still transfer files between devices, but stupidly, not between iOS and OSX. In a situation with no internet, Photostream, Email, or iMessage isn’t an option.


  1. This is a no-brainer missing feature. First time I tried Airdropping between Mavericks Mac and iPhone 5, it had been a few months after the release and I’d completely forgotten the two didn’t talk to each other, so wasted far too many minutes checking wifi, bluetooth, etc.

    Not a single hint anywhere on either iOS or Mac Airdrop UI that the two aren’t currently compatible, merely text that misleads one into thinking any nearby Apple product with Airdrop can talk to each other.

    1. Agreed. I didn’t realize the two weren’t compatible the first time I tried to transfer a movie from iOS to OS X. Spent half an hour trying to figure it out, until I changed and went iOS to iOS and the transfer worked perfectly.

      Really a bad design by Apple.

    2. I am so glad I read this because I had for some reason become convinced that with Mavericks this finally was possible. He is right this is something that should have been possible from day 1 when the iPad was launched surely and certainly by now. Ludicrous in this day and age that you can’t wirelessly interact between Mac and tablet when I can actually connect wirelessly to my smart tv with my iPad.

    1. Because despite the name, they work completely differently.

      AirDrop on iOS uses WiFi Direct, using Bluetooth/Beacon-like functionality to determine which devices are nearby. It does not require the devices be on the same network, and it doesn’t require the receiving device to be doing anything in particular (other than having AirDrop be turned on in general).

      AirDrop in OSX is based of the local network, and only works between computers on that same network. It requires that both computers be in the AirDrop section of finder before any files can be sent or received. It’s really just a slightly nicer GUI on the same local network file transfer capability that has been a part of Mac OS X since the beginning.

      All that said, I fully expect a new & improved AirDrop will be part of the next version of Mac OS, one that will work ad hoc between macs and iOS devices just like the iOS one does now. No doubt it will only work on the newest macs (and won’t be backwards compatible with the old version of OSX AirDrop), and everyone will bitch and moan about planned obsolescence and artificially restricted features without having the slightest understanding of the underlying technical reasons.

    1. When I download a file from a webpage on my iPhone, I get a prompt asking which app I want to open the file in/send the file to. AirDrop could work the same way. Or, if the Apple engineers aren’t smart enough to figure out how to make AirDrop work between iOS and OSX, then give AirDrop on each a different name to avoid confusion.

      Having AirDrop on both OSX and iOS but making them incompatible is like if the Messages app on iOS and OSX weren’t compatible and couldn’t send messages to each other. It’s stupid.

  2. So many issues like this at apple!
    How about iPhone not being seen as an external device on finder?
    Why the hell not.. Why should i have to launch iphoto
    or image transfer or cloud to see photo/video contents on my external iOS device?
    Why dont pictures in photo stream show their names in iPhoto? And need to be imported before u can identify their names?
    Why does apple force me to use two keys to do forward delete.. Rather than have a single forward delete key!?
    Why are ios spell checker and contextual word recognition still in the jurassic era in accuracy and function?
    So many little stupid idiosyncrasies like this..WHY..? When the fix is not rocket science! And exist on other platforms !

    1. I wish those of you rating my post with low stars.. Would at least let me know how im wrong rather than just give my post a low rating!
      Im am an apple person. I have iPads, iMac , iPhones, apple tv, airport..
      And i own whole bunch of stock in the company!
      But that does not mean that i am blind to some stupid stuff apple CHOOSES to do or IGNORES to do!
      Actually i find it my duty to bring issues up..on forums and to apple directly( if they listen) .. To put in my two cents to improve the product and also address my concerns.

      1. Well for one I totally agree with you, Apple has always been a love hate thing thankfully the love far outweighs the hate but why they ignore certain functionality is beyond me at times. There may be a file structure problem here to solve but all we are asking is to be able to do with airdrop what we can do with Dropbox ( or happens in limited cases with iCloud) for example at least as a start. But fact is there needs to be a basic file handler, a specific app even or a repository of sorts to do this, or alternatively a facility for individual apps that can work with or handle the various file types to be able to exploit airdrop themselves. How on earth can iOS end up being anything but a dead end eventually if such flexibility isn’t, as some claim ever going to be possible. This would simply create a glass ceiling that restricts the OS as compared to competitors.

        1. Yes.. Could not agree more..
          One if the biggest annoying things in ios… None existent file management system!
          Apple tries to make files transparent.. But in the process they have managed to me me feel tied to a ball and chain. I feel so restricted and bound down… .
          I need to do with my files as i please.
          Hope they do address this!
          Hope they have full time people reading the posts in reputable forums and making notes… …
          Are you listening Apple?

      2. Great point about the other usability issues Apple has been ignoring for many years, such as the spell checker. I’m very frustrated and surprised that they have not addressed this, along with consistency issues between apps, such as pinch to zoom working in Preview and TextEdit but not in Mail, the way Spotlight search lets you choose whether to look only at file names or in the content, sometimes, and so forth. There are many more small items like this that could make everyday computing life more pleasant if cleaned up. With all the billions of dollars they have available they ought to be able to put a little effort into making the user interface simpler and more consistent. There are an awful lot of things in System Preferences that could either be made simpler or at least supported better with clear explanations.

    2. “How about iPhone not being seen as an external device on finder?”
      The absolutely ridiculous part about this is that on Windows, once iTunes and the iOS drivers are installed… you *can* mount it as a disk and access photos and videos from the camera roll directly.

      This actually let me save several videos that would not import to my Mac since both iPhoto and Image Capture thought it was corrupt.

      1. That would be unfortunate, as multi-file type projects are extremely hard to manage without some kind of folder hierarchy.

        File system = system details, good thing to hide.
        Document hierarchy with mixed type files = Usability necessity for a lot of productive tasks.

        Hopefully Apple realizes that despite the similarity they are not the same. Many of us need the second even if somehow it is not implemented as the first.

    1. One of the concepts behind iOS is to make it idiot proof, I mean that in a nice way. An open file structure leads to a lot of problems for people who don’t know what they are doing. It can also open up a lot of backdoors for malware. iOS is designed keep things in an easy to see and understandable way. Most people don’t want to do the back in work, and are lost in Finder. iOS is for them.
      AirDrop could be used to share things to iTunes. If I have a photo I want to put on someone else’s computer I could drop it in their iTunes app. Then they can put it wherever they want. This would be great because it could work on both Mac and PC’s. Remember AirDrop is for sharing with someone else’s computer, iCloud is for sharing with yours.

  3. “nor does it appear to be on the radar of One Infinite Loop’s management crew”

    Wrong. It’s on the radar. It just presents massive security issues that take time to work out.

  4. My guess, regarding this situation, is that Apple doesn’t want to get users into the file system of iOS. They insist upon keeping it hidden. Therefore, no dropping files into iOS. I suppose it could be related to ‘The Walled Garden’ as well, keeping us from moving over unapproved apps into iOS.

    Of course, there are plenty of utilities that allow us to do this the hard way. But We The Geeks are not Grannies On iPads. I expect we’ll never officially see a file system on iOS.

    HOWEVER: What if there was an API that let developers write up code for individual apps that allows the apps, iOS and Mac renditions, to drop files back and forth?! At the moment, that has to be done vie iCloud, DropBox or some other enabled cloud service, which isn’t very efficient.

  5. Just for all of those who are asking why can’t the iOS and OS X talk to each other even though as the article puts it, they are both UNIX based systems with airdrop support. Airdrop for iOS and Airdrop for OS X are 2 entirely different protocols and have nothing to do with each other. However Apple did themselves a disservice by naming them both the same thing and confusing people. They don’t talk to each other because the protocols used are different and were never meant to be compatible. For sake of example I’ll liken it to CDMA vs GSM. They are both protocols for wireless data transfer however they are not compatible and that’s why you can’t take a CDMA phone and activate it on a GSM network and vice versa. One uses WiFi to make a connection (OS X) and it’s just a fancy name for a protocol called WiFi Direct, the other uses a combination of Bluetooth and WiFi to make a connection with some iCloud going on in the back end for validation and it’s Apples own concoction but it’s not WiFi direct. The protocols are quite different and thus the two don’t play well together. What will need to happen is Apple change the protocol that OS X uses or that iOS uses so they are using the same thing.

    1. See, there’s always an exception to every rule; you’ve proved that some organisms just haven’t evolved much above the single-cell level.
      Hope you’re happy living down there with the slime-moulds.

      1. Do you have an actual point to make about what Darwin said?
        If so, please make your argument and back it up with logic.
        If all you want to do is insult, please fuck off.

  6. Just use Dropbox, so much simpler and straightforward.

    Love Apple, user since 1988, but increasingly their love of complication makes my life for difficult (iTunes)

    They think complexity equals sophistication. Here is my purposefully non-sophisticated answer:

    It doesn’t.

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