DeskConnect is a file transfer app from the makers of Workflow. It allows you to easily share files between your iPhone, iPad and Mac. DeskConnect isn’t an app that will replace a service like Dropbox or even iCloud, because it was designed solely with file transfers in mind.
We reviewed the initial version of DeskConnect back in 2013. Since then, a lot has changed — iOS has gained inter-app communication via handy share extensions, iCloud Drive has made it easier to move and manipulate files across a variety of storage solutions, and AirDrop can now easily transfer files between iOS devices and Macs.
In 2016, where does a new version of DeskConnect fit in? Does AirDrop make it redundant? Have a look at our overview for the details.
What it’s not
First of all, let me briefly touch on what DeskConnect is not. It is not a long term storage place for your files. DeskConnect temporarily stores files on its servers in order to transfer items between devices. After 30 days, files are permanently deleted.
Unlike AirDrop, where files are transferred locally, files are transmitted via the Internet to DeskConnect’s servers for temporary storage and retrieval. With this in mind, it’s obvious that you wouldn’t want to transfer anything that’s overly sensitive.
The main new feature in DeckConnect’s 1.2 update is the share extension that lets you quickly share items from other apps. For example, if I’m in the Twitter app, I can share tweets with other devices using the DeskConnect share extension.
Once the app’s share extension is selected, you’ll see all of the destinations that have DeskConnect installed. Destinations can include the Mac (with the help of a companion app), another iPhone, or an iPad. You’ll need to be logged in to your free DeskConnect account on each device in order to use sharing.
DeskConnect 1.2 also brings notification actions to the mix, making it quicker to act on received files. When you receive a new shared item on your iOS device, you can quickly copy items to the clipboard directly from Notification Center. This includes banners and Lock screen notifications as well.
3D Touch makes a brief appearance with the 1.2 update. Although there’s no Quick Action shortcuts available on the Home screen app icon, you can use 3D Touch to peek and pop at the shared contents found inside of the DeskConnect app.
What can you share?
You can share all sorts of things with DeskConnect. You can send text files, photos, small videos, Safari links, and more. You can even send the contents of your clipboard directly to a destination of your choice.
The DeskConnect iOS app is specifically set up to allow you to quickly send photos, websites, clipboard contents, and iCloud Drive documents. You’ll find the four shortcuts for sending the mentioned files types conveniently located at the top of the DeskConnect interface.
DeskConnect or AirDrop?
Why would you choose to use DeskConnect over something like AirDrop? Isn’t this why AirDrop was created?
When AirDrop works properly, it’s great, but if my Twitter timeline suggests anything, it’s that AirDrop doesn’t always work like it should. DeskConnect doesn’t rely on finicky Bluetooth connectivity, it just needs an Internet connection. As such, and because DeskConnect utilizes temporary storage, your destination device doesn’t even have to be online at the time that you share a file with it.
DeskConnect also has the ability to send items to all registered destinations at the same time. With AirDrop, you have to select individual destinations one by one.
Granted, that doesn’t mean that you’ll want to outright replace AirDrop in your workflow, as it still has some distinct advantages. For starters, you can send much larger files via AirDrop. DeskConnect has a limit of 100MB per file, so you’re not going to want to use it to send 4K videos to your favorite devices.
The bottom line is that there is room for both technologies. There will be instances where using DeskConnect will make the most sense, and there will be occasions where it makes more sense to use AirDrop.
It should be no surprise that Workflow contains a Send via DeskConnect option in its list of available actions. This feature allows you to seamlessly integrate DeskConnect and its established destinations into your workflows. You can even choose to attach specific DeskConnect destinations to your workflows, or open the firehose and send to all destinations in one fell swoop.
A Mac companion
Unlike the iOS version, there is no traditional app for DeskConnect on the Mac. Instead, the service relies on a companion app that stays running in the menu bar. This companion app lacks an OS X sharing extension, and lacks the easy-to-use UI present in the iOS version.
Instead, you’ll need to drag files that you wish to share to the DeskConnect menu bar icon. To be honest, this feels a little clunky; I would prefer if the app used OS X’s native share extensions instead. Hopefully this will come in a future version.
A great update
DeskConnect 1.2 is a solid update that brings several useful new additions to the table. It also includes a brand new redesign, which makes the app’s look match its modern feature set.
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