DeskConnect: The Turbocharged AirDrop-Dropbox Hybrid

When Apple brought iCloud Tabs, Photo Stream, and AirDrop to the Mac and iOS, users could finally stop emailing things to themselves or plugging in their iOS devices to transfer a photo. Still, AirDrop and these other services don’t do everything. What if you wanted to send your clipboard to your mobile phone or tablet? Or maybe you have a text document that you need to take with you to a lecture. Either of these scenarios can be solved with Dropbox, but what if there was something faster?

DeskConnect boasts “seamless” transfer of text, audio, driving directions, etc. from your mobile device to your computer and vice versa. Over the years, there have been a lot of these services, from Clipboard to Bump, but none of them have truly brought desktop and mobile together for a unified experience. Does DeskConnect?

Setup

Signing up for an account.

Signing up for an account.

Configuring DeskConnect took a little longer than I would have hoped. Rather than using iCloud for sync, DeskConnect has its own servers to transfer files through. This means that you have to sign up for an account, which requires an email and password. That part didn’t take very long since there’s no activation email, but afterward I had trouble getting the Mac app to recognize my iPhone.

I was able to send a photo from my iPhone to my Mac, but not the other way around since the desktop app didn’t display my device. After reopening the app and doing a few other routine things, I decided to contact support. One of the developer’s reps told me that the problem was caused by not enabling push notifications on my phone. (Also, might I note that he responded very quickly.) I enabled them an all was well. They should probably mention in the setup prompts that it’s essential to have push enabled.

Speed and Reliability

Sending a link.

Sending a link.

The first thing I tried to send with DeskConnect was a link to an article on my blog. I opened it in Safari and the app sensed the URL, giving me the option to send it to my iPhone. I clicked the phone and the menu bar icon spun around in a little animation of blue, then my phone alerted me that there was a new transfer from my computer. I opened it and after about ten seconds, the app took me to the link in my browser of choice (Chrome). It was nice to see that it gives you the option to use either Chrome or Safari for opening links.

A DeskConnect notification on iPhone.

A DeskConnect notification on iPhone.

Next I tried the clipboard feature. This worked even better than the link and was almost instantaneous. On the iPhone, the clipboard was displayed in a .txt file using the courier font. Now, of course, neither of these transfers should take too long since they’re strings of text. I decided to send a photo from Finder by dragging and dropping it on the DeskConnect icon. Boy, that was fast.

You can share files from inside apps if you give DeskConnect hard drive access.

You can share files from inside apps if you give DeskConnect hard drive access.

To put some strain on things, I headed to iTunes and selected a hefty 9.4 MB song — AWOLNATION’s “Sail”. This crashed the app, so I tried it again. While the notification popped up instantly, the file wasn’t actually available for a few minutes (likely due to my inadequate upload speed). While the menu bar icon was animating, I decided to check on the speed of things in Activity Monitor. I found that DeskConnect was indeed peaking my connection’s upload speed at 1 Mbps. Back on my iPhone, the file loaded up in a few seconds and was ready to play.

This is not a local area network transfer service. Rather, it uploads the file to a server and then downloads it again on the recipient device.

Unlike AirDrop, you don’t have to wait for DeskConnect to scan for devices, authenticate the one you want to connect to, send the file, and then accept it on the other end (this last step only happens sometimes). I was surprised by how fast DeskConnect took a file from one device to another. I love Dropbox, but this service is far faster than uploading anything there.

Why Is It Free?

With the many privacy concerns of “free” services nowadays, it’s only fair that we ask, “Why is DeskConnect free?” After all, the mobile and desktop apps are free to download and there are no in-app purchases to be seen. I asked a spokesperson from DeskConnect. “Our goal right now is to build the best experience possible for our users, and in due time figure out a way to create a revenue stream that is fair and uninterruptive for users”, he said. “For the moment, though, we are funding DeskConnect out of pocket.”

Like AirDrop, Sans-LAN

The welcome screen.

The welcome screen.

AirDrop works great if you’re on the same network. Likewise, Photo Stream is a nice way to make all the photos you take on your iPhone accessible anywhere, but it’s slow and iPhoto often takes a while to refresh the Stream. DeskConnect is the bridge between these, offering lightning-fast transfer of any file, clipboard, or link from device to device. The price? Free.

I did encounter a few little problems here and there, the worst being transfers from an iPhone to Mac are hard to save. Most of them are opened in a Quick Look window and the actual file location isn’t revealed, which struck me as a bit strange. Overall, though, I enjoy using DeskConnect. It’s far superior to (and more modern than) emailing a file to yourself, as well as being faster than Dropbox, AirDrop, and Photo Stream. If you move little things from Mac to iPhone daily, give this a try.


Summary

Transfer files from your Mac to iPhone and back again with ease. DeskConnect is a very speedy way of doing that, with slight hiccups.

8
theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow