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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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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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