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Technology Untangled: Transfer photos and files between devices with just a bump

Stephen Bour
December 18, 2013
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technology-bourWe have probably all seen the commercials for the Samsung smartphones where pictures and videos are transferred between two phones by simply touching them together. In my favorite one, mom sends dad off on his business trip with a video transfer and a coy warning that he probably shouldn’t watch it on the plane. You can see it on YouTube by searching “Samsung Galaxy funny commercial airplane trip.”

I don’t have a Samsung phone, but I thought an easy wireless transfer feature like this might be useful for business. Today we will look at a cross-platform application that works in a similar manner. The app is called Bump. By cross-platform, I mean you can use this file-transfer utility between Android phones and iPhones, as well as between smartphones, tablets and computers. Bump also will work with your iPad, although I found use with the iPad a little more difficult. More on that later. You can download this free app from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. For your computer, the software can be found at https://bu.mp.

When I started on this article, I hoped I had discovered an app that would be useful for attorneys to share document files with each other via iPad. And while it can be done, I don’t think this turns out to be the ideal tool. In fact, the app can only be found under the iPhone section of the App Store, not within the iPad section. The Bump app seems to be designed primarily for transferring photos between smartphones.

Unfortunately, there is no easy method to access document files on your iPad in order to transfer them to others via Bump. The only readily available documents folder is the folder created by Bump. You can work around this, but you have to connect your iPad to your computer and manipulate files via iTunes in order to import any files you would like to share from your iPad with others. Suffice it to say that the process was beyond what I would define as “Untangled.”

For photos however, things are easy. The app by default pops up thumbnails of all your pictures from your main camera folder. Simply highlight as many as you want to share, and bump. For PDFs and other documents, you have to manually navigate to the proper subfolder on your memory card and highlight the name of each file you want to share. The process is similar for transfer of video and audio files (size limit 20 MB), though it seemed to me that the transfer time for multimedia files was much slower.

Photos, documents and multimedia that are received into a phone are stored into newly created Bump folders. The files do not automatically transfer to the normally expected locations where all your other similar files reside. You have to move them manually with a file manager. I found this to be annoying.

One feature that did seem more business-friendly and useful was the ability to “bump” to share contact information with others, including your business card info. You simply highlight the contacts from your list that you want to share and bump phones. The contacts are dropped directly into the expected location in the contact list on your associate’s phone. Similarly, you can highlight your favorite phone apps to bump and share with others, saving them the trouble of searching them out in the App Store.

At first, I thought that this app required both devices to be connected to the same Wi-Fi router, but that is not the case. Bump will work between phones via the cell connection as well as to/from tablets connected only via Wi-Fi. To bump with a computer though, an Internet connection is required. You have to open the bu.mp website first, and then bump your phone on the computer’s space bar to facilitate a transfer. Your bumped file is actually uploaded to some sort of Dropbox-like repository and you then have to click to download it to the computer.

I wondered if it might be possible to accidently transfer files to a stranger by literally bumping into them in a crowded room. No, you can’t “bump” by mistake. Both phones first must have the Bump app invoked, and then you still have to hit a Confirm button on each phone before the file transfer actually takes place. In fact, all of this transferring could be accomplished with a simple button press. The bumping is used to invoke the phone accelerometers, thus causing the phones to vibrate while transferring files. It is simply a gimmick, but I suppose it makes the process more interesting.

Are there plenty of other methods to accomplish exactly the same end result as Bump? Sure, there are plenty of ways to transfer data. But for simplicity and fun, this app is worth a look, especially for use with photos. If nothing else, you may find Bump amusing for sharing pictures with family and friends during the holidays.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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