There are many ways to get files from one Android device to another. The thing is, so many of them rely on uploading data to remote servers. That rubs me the wrong way. Why does a middle-man need access to the files I’m sharing with someone sitting next to me?
The old-fashioned methods still work, though they’re not always ideal. USB cables let you connect to a PC, but they don’t exchange files between two mobile devices. Flash drives and FTP all require copying data to a form of external storage.
Fortunately, options have popped up to meet this challenge. Not only are there apps that let you exchange files without dealing with cloud storage, they provide you with several compelling ways to do so.
1. BitTorrent Shoot
BitTorrent is synonymous with file sharing, but Shoot has nothing to do with torrents. The app is a private way to send data quickly from one mobile device to another.
After you select files to share, Shoot then displays a QR code that you can scan using another device to receive the file. This initiates a peer-to-peer data transfer. This lets you send big files without uploading them to the Internet and providing access to anyone other than the intended recipient.
The app is cross-platform, so you can use it to share files with your iPhone and Windows Phone-using friends too.
Download: BitTorrent Shoot for Android (Free)
Like BitTorrent Shoot, SuperBeam lets you send files using QR codes. But with this app, that approach is just the beginning. You can also tap two devices together to connect via NFC. If you get the pro version, you can manually share a key.
Whichever approach you take, you share files using a Wi-Fi Direct connection. On hardware that isn’t compatible, SuperBeam sets up a wireless hotspot for the receiving device to connect to. If all else fails, the app can use an existing Wi-Fi network connection.
You don’t need SuperBeam installed on both ends of the transfer. When one side doesn’t have the app, you can use the web interface instead.
You’re not limited to files. SuperBeam is an easy way to transfer apps from one device to another.
The interface is clean, and there are numerous themes to choose from. But speaking for myself, the ads are too intrusive. There are banner ads on every screen plus the occasional pop-up. The pro version is worth buying to get rid of these intrusions alone.
Download: SuperBeam for Android (Free | Pro)
3. 4 Share Apps
4 Share Apps gives you two choices: send or receive. Simple. As for how you connect, you create a Wi-Fi hotspot or QR code.
The developers say you can send files of any size. Photos, videos, audio formats, and other file types —including apps — are supported.
4 Share Apps comes with more character than you would expect. At first launch, you create a username and pick one of eight adorable avatars. This serves as verification that you’re sending files to who you intend to.
Compared to SuperBeam, the interface feels cleaner. There are fewer ads, with those that are present being far less intrusive. I saw not a single banner ad or pop-up. Instead, ads appeared as recommendations. On the downside, the app provides an unnecessary (but disable-able) additional lock screen.
4 Share Apps doesn’t require Internet access to exchange files, but it does contain a tab showing files shared by other users. This makes the app feel like one of the less private options, but it gets the job done.
Download: 4 Share Apps for Android (Free)
After you establish a connection between multiple devices using Xender, you can send files with a tap. Similarly, you can share photos by sliding your finger.
Xender works across any platform, not just Android. You can scan a QR code to establish a connection on another mobile device, or you can open the provided URL to connect via the projected hotspot.
Xender lets you replicate many access of your phone as you move from one to another. Bring over your contacts, text messages, pictures, and other files.
Unfortunately, the app comes with one big annoyance. You don’t just have to deal with banner ads, a “quick charge” screen places advertisements on your lock screen. Fortunately you have the option to turn this off.
Download: Xender for Android (Free)
You know what to expect by now. Zapya doesn’t require an Internet connect, lets you connect via aforementioend ways, and lets you replicate your old phone when you transfer to a new one. It’s cross-platform, so you’re not stuck with Android if you don’t want to be.
But there’s a big addition here. Zapya aims to be more of a social experience. You can browse through other users to see what people are sending, and you can use the app to start a chat.
You get to share files of all types not just to a single recipient, but to a group. Zapya lets you share data with up to four devices at once.
Zapya also offers an offline way to play games with other users. Its a weird thing to encounter in a file-sharing app, but technically playing a game requires transferring data, right?
You could also say Zapya has more personality than the other apps on this list. Super heroes guide you around the interface and notify you of new messages. It’s a touch that’s not for everyone, but given the millions of downloads, many people clearly like it.
Download: Zapya for Android (Free)
How Do You Share?
On mobile devices, sharing files isn’t the tedious task it used to be. You don’t have to reach for a cable. No need to pull out a flash drive. Forget waiting to upload a file to cloud storage and then downloading it — even when you’re on the same network. And why are you trying to attach that to an email? The Play Store is filled with easier ways to do this.
What do you think of using QR codes? Do you prefer to set up a wireless hotspot? Does the interface make a difference for you? Regardless of which app you have installed, send your thoughts our way!