Connecting devices directly to one another is often seen as the job of Bluetooth, but Android offers another option in the shape of Wi-Fi Direct. So, what is Wi-Fi Direct? It is a wireless technology that enables users to connect directly. There is no need for users to be connected to a network or hotspot. However, users will need to have Android 4.0 or later to take advantage of the feature. Wi-Fi Direct is effectively a peer-to-peer connection and enables users to interact and operate, like Bluetooth, but at a greater range. Wi-Fi Direct is hidden away within the Settings menu and users will not find the feature with a cursory glance. A look inside the Wireless & Networks Wi-Fi settings menu reveals the hidden Wi-Fi Direct feature. Wi-Fi will need to be switched on for Wi-Fi Direct to be active. In addition, Wi-Fi Direct will need to be enabled on all devices that wish to connect. Multiple devices can be connected this way, dependent on support, ready to share files in double-quick time.
Step by Step How to use Wi-Fi Direct
Find Wi-Fi Direct
To start using Wi-Fi Direct, you’ll need to first head to the Settings app on your Android device. This will display Wi-Fi under Wireless & Networks. This needs to be switched on for Wi-Fi Direct to work. Tap Wi-Fi to open and select Wi-Fi Direct from the menu.
The moment that Wi-Fi Direct is tapped in the menu the device will start searching for other devices. Only devices with Wi-Fi Direct switched on will be picked up. Before switching on another device, first take a note of the name given to the device. You’ll need this later on.
To connect two devices together, both need to have Wi-Fi Direct switched on. On the second device follow the instructions in step 1 to make sure that Wi-Fi is on along with Wi-Fi Direct. Again make a mental note of the name assigned to the second device.
The second device will now display the name it has been assigned along with the name of the other device under the Peer Devices heading. Hit search on the first device to display the name of the other device. Now both devices will be displaying a name under Peer Devices.
Send an invite
Connecting the two devices can be done on either device. Tap the name of the device, under Peer Devices and the Available line will change to Invited. This informs the user that an invitation has been sent to the selected device and is awaiting a reply.
The receiving device will now have a message on screen named Invitation to connect. The user can now choose whether to accept the invitation or decline the invitation. Once the invitation has been accepted the two devices will wait to connect.
Up and running
When a device is connected, the status of both devices will change to connected. Heading back to the Wi-Fi list, the Wi-Fi Direct connection will now be there. This will adopt the name assigned to the connection under groups, eg DIRECT-0t-Android_93e94.
The Wi-Fi Direct feature automatically assigns a name to the current device. The name is typically a prefix of Android with an alphanumeric after, eg Android e_895. Tap Rename device to give the device a more instantly recognizable name, making it easier to identify.
Each time a connection is made it is assigned an ID (see step 7). The connection details are stored for future use under Remembered Groups. This enables the same devices to connect without having to be invited. Tap the connection to remove or forget the group.
Wi-Fi Direct offers the option to connect to more than a single device. However, it is worth noting that this feature is not supported on every device. If the feature is supported users will see Available devices with a check box next to it. Tap the checkbox next to the devices to connect.
Share an image
When a device or devices are connected with each other, users can start to transfer fi les from one device to another. To share an image, locate the folder that contains the images, for example, Gallery. Tap to select an image, then the Share icon and select Wi-Fi Direct.
Sharing files via Wi-Fi Direct is much the same process as using other options. Select the file, folder or app to share and tap the related Share icon. From the list, select Wi-Fi Direct to share. Note that Wi-Fi Direct will only appear on supported devices.
Wi-Fi Direct will keep the connection behind devices active until the user chooses to terminate the connection. To disconnect a device, simply head to the Wi-Fi screen and tap the name of the connected device. A message will appear; press OK to disconnect the current device.