Since its introduction in iOS 7, AirDrop has become the preferred means for iPhone users to instantly share photos, videos, documents and more to nearby Apple devices with relative ease. Given its widespread popularity, the feature hasn’t changed much over the years. But this year, Apple is stepping things up by bringing several new features to AirDrop that should make it more powerful than ever.
The following five features are coming with Apple’s iOS 17 software update, which is expected to arrive this fall. Could any of them fundamentally change the way you use AirDrop? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the article.
NameDrop was Apple’s new flagship AirDrop feature in its preview of iOS 17. Rather than typing in someone new’s number to call or texting them so they have your number, NameDrop simply lets you hold your iPhone close to their iPhone to swap contact details.
When two iPhones are held close to each other, each person’s contact poster appears (a photo of you that you can customize and edit, new in iOS 17). Users can then select the numbers and email addresses in their contact card that they want to share.
The feature also works between an iPhone and a nearby Apple Watch running an upcoming software update, which Apple says will be available “later this year.”
2. New AirDrop gesture for sharing content
The same iPhone-to-iPhone proximity gesture that works for NameDrop also allows users to share content like photos and files.
Simply bringing the two phones close initiates the AirDrop transfer, thus eliminating the current requirement to manually select the person from the AirDrop device locator via the share sheet.
3. Continue AirDrop over the Internet
The way AirDrop currently works, you must be in close proximity to the other person’s device to complete any transfer—if you leave the AirDrop range, the transfer fails and the content isn’t shared. This can be particularly frustrating when you are sending or receiving several large files such as video content.
Conversely, if you leave the AirDrop interval in iOS 17, the content you’re trying to share with someone continues to be sent securely and in full quality over the Internet. The only requirement is that both you and the recipient are signed in to iCloud.
4. Share playback on AirDrop
Holding two iPhones close together can also be used to start a shared activity via SharePlay. This allows the two of you to listen to music or watch a movie together.
And thanks to a new SharePlay API, third-party developers can make their apps support gesture, letting you enter the same game together or watch the same stream while using your separate devices.
5. Explicit blurring of the image
iOS doesn’t let anyone share a photo or document on your device unless you actively choose to opt-in. A long-standing problem with AirDrop, however, is that it shows a preview of the proposed shared content on your device’s screen, whether or not you actually want to see it.
This had led to people being subjected to unsolicited naked and explicit images. To prevent this in iOS 17, Apple is introducing a new opt-in feature designed to automatically blur images sent via AirDrop that may have sensitive content such as nudity. The content will be blocked, but can be viewed by tapping a “Show” button.
These sensitive content alerts work like the communication safety feature Apple added for children, with all tracking done on the device so Apple doesn’t see shared content.
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