Moving something from your Mac to iPhone is a long-standing usability problem. Apple’s phones and computers both have a feature called “Airdrop,” yet the two aren’t compatible. Utilities already exist that solve this problem, but none make it easy. A new solution called Scribe does just that.
Scribe shows off the efficiency of Bluetooth LE (low energy), transferring data without the need for an Internet connection. Once the devices are paired, hitting the pre-assigned hotkey combination sends selected text, phone numbers, pictures, and URLs instantly to the phone, complete with a notification on the home screen. Even when Apple’s Airdrop does comes of age and allows data to be moved between devices, it’s still unlikely to be as slick as Scribe.
For example, say I look up a restaurant on my computer upstairs and want to send their phone number to my iPhone. To do this, I highlight the phone number on the restaurant’s website, hit CMD+Shift+X and the digits are instantly sent to my phone downstairs. Of course, there are plenty of ways to do this, but Scribe sends it right to my phone’s clipboard, so all I have to do is hit paste in the dialer to call. The Scribe mobile app also keeps a history of transferred information to refer back to later, sliding each instance left to copy.
A similar solution is Command-C, which advertises itself as copy and paste between a Mac and iPhone. Unlike Scribe, however, Command-C uses your Wi-Fi network to transfer the clipboard data between computer and phone. Comparing Apple’s built-in features that match the functionality makes these third-party solutions seem ripe to be to ripped off in upcoming iOS versions. Currently Apple’s mobile Safari will sync links between computer and phone, but there’s no mechanism to force a sync. Also the built-in maps app in Mavericks will send directions from computer to phone, but requires the latest OS on each device.
Another notable app currently using bluetooth LE between Mac and iPhone is Knock. Installing the app on both devices allows tapping on the phone to unlock your password-protected computer. The app was widely publicized based on the novel nature of its functionality, but what’s most interesting about Knock is how the founders want to rid the world of having to enter any passwords ever again.
Mac sales are a niche avenue, but the need for tighter integration between all devices Apple sells is always a sought-after feature for users. The first step, however, should be compatibility between two utilities that share the same name.