Transferring files to and from mobile devices has always been a bit of a headache, often requiring the intervention of a third-party cloud service like Dropbox. For the more caveman-oriented of us, there’s also email. The trouble with either option is that they’re time consuming. SuperBeam, a popular Android app that recently made its way to iOS, eliminates the need for email, cloud services, wires and even data connections—facilitating rapid wireless file transfer between devices that are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
SuperBeam pairs devices using one of two methods: QR codes or sharing keys. (The Android version includes the ability to share via NFC.) The built-in QR code reader is generated on the sending end and read on the receiving end. The keys are primarily for devices that don’t have an on-board camera, and hence no ability to read a QR code, though the iPhone won’t have that problem.
Upon launching the app, you’re presented two simple choices: send or receive. Sending options for iOS are divided between files and photos, while using the app on an Android device divides potential files up into more specific categories: audio and music, photos, videos, and files and folders. Differences in file categories aside, the iOS version has the ability to send the same types of files as its Android counterpart—they’re just categorized differently on the former.
Once you’ve located the file or files you want to share, SuperBeam then generates a QR code that can be scanned by the receiving device. The sharing key alternative is generated along with it. The app also saves a log of previously used sharing keys, cutting the need to manually type in a key every time a file gets received.
Answering the all-important security question, SuperBeam encrypts files before they’re sent. Communication between differing platforms—Android to iOS and vice versa—proved to be a non-issue in testing. The transfer of data, which uses the SuperTCP P2P transfer protocol, was exceedingly quick. LiveQoS, the app’s manufacturer, says SuperBeam’s maximum transfer rates average between 20 to 40 Mbps. There’s also no limit to the number of files that can be sent in a single transfer, provided the receiving device has enough space to store the data.
Transfer tests were not without occasional hiccups, on one occasion requiring us to “reboot” the Wi-Fi connection on both devices to kick-start the transfer. On the whole, however, the app displayed a high level of performance, taking only seconds to send and receive photos, video files, and audio files.
Previously only available for Android mobile devices, alongside Windows and Mac computers, SuperBeam Lite is available free for iOS mobile devices. For $2 you can upgrade to the Pro version, which lets you transfer files from an iOS device to a PC or Mac with the proper SuperBeam software installed. Pro also eliminates ads, allows you to send entire folders at a time, and makes it so you can share files with more than one device at a time. SuperBeam isn’t the only app to hasten file transfers on mobile devices—and the “Continuity” features of iOS 8 lessen its impact compared to Android—but it’s efficient, flexible, and especially useful in professional, team-oriented environments.