Getting access to data

Short-distance sharing

Two devices being held closer together, enabling them to share data over WiFi.


Share data with nearby devices using Bluetooth, near-field communication (NFC), Wi-Fi or other methods. If two people’s phones are close enough together and connected to both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, they can easily share Wi-Fi passwords with each other.

IF thinks this pattern works well when both people understand and agree how and what data is being shared. It can feel invasive if it happens in public spaces, or in other situations where people aren’t expecting it.


  • Quick and convenient data sharing.
  • Because it only works when phones are close together, people can verify sharing requests in person. (“Did you just send me this?”)
  • Can be used in creative ways, to reveal hidden information about a physical space.


  • Relies on having (and being able to switch on) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or NFC.
  • Different short-distance sharing services may not work with each other. Apple’s Airdrop is not compatible with Windows’ Nearby sharing.
  • People might accidentally share data with someone they don’t want to.
  • It can feel invasive to receive data from a device in public space or unexpectedly.
  • Difficult to opt out as (usually requires turning off Bluetooth).