Although it wasn't announced alongside the plethora of other features during the Ice Cream Sandwich event, Wi-Fi Direct may prove to be one of the more important and revolutionary features of the new OS. In the old days Bluetooth was the standard method of device to device data transfer, but now with Ice Cream Sandwich we are given Wi-Fi Direct and Android Beam. The latter uses NFC to transfer links, media, and other data, while the former is an interesting implementation of the wireless standard which creates ad-hoc networks between compatible devices.

Wi-Fi Direct works by letting users connect directly to nearby devices over Wi-Fi, without any tethering or data connectivity required. Users need only have two Wi-Fi Direct compatible devices to connect and transfer files, stream video and audio, and connect to printers or other compatible devices. The Wi-Fi Direct connection is a lot speedier than Bluetooth and it also works over much larger distances.

I have had the Wi-Fi Direct app on my Samsung Galaxy SII phone for some time now and have had no problems with it. However, the app is built into Samsung's custom ROM TouchWiz and it is not a part of Android 2.3 Gingerbread (the version running on the Galaxy SII). So, the integration of Wi-Fi Direct into the Android OS in Ice Cream Sandwich is great news for other Android manufacturers.

For more information on Wi-Fi Direct check out the Android 4.0 developer notes.

Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye. Since then he has blogged for Android Police, Make Tech Easier, and This Green Machine. In the real world, Abhiroop Basu is a resident of Singapore and the Editor of The Digit, a subsidiary of The Potato Productions Group.

  • http://thefarmerslife.wordpress.com Brian

    This interests me greatly. I'm a farmer and with the use of autosteer in our tractors, well, I'm not driving them a lot of the time. It frees me up to keep a better eye on many other things, but I have time to browse the internet and do some social media on my phone. I'd like to have a tablet mounted in the tractor with me, but didn't want to pay for another wireless plan and don't know if I want to root my phone. This feature could be exactly what I need! Now just to see what tablets will work with it.

    • Zomby

      I'm not sure how being able to exchange files between Android devices will help in your situation. You tablet still woudn't have Internet access, just access to what's already on your phone. If you want to get Internet access on your tablet via your phone, what you need is tethering.

      • michal

        i wonder if this will be able to do some reversed tethering... it would be very nice :D

    • David Storm

      You don't need to root if you get PDA from the market. This allows you to tether without root. I used it before I rooted my phone and it worked fine. There are a couple of apps in the market that will let you do this. ---- The new one click root at xda-developers also allows you to reverse that process should you have a problem with your phone and need to take it in. No one will ever know you had it rooted. You need to Google this subject and do some reading to better understand the process. Good Luck.

  • Nathan

    Did they announce which carrier is getting the Nexus phone?

    • David Storm

      And that would be the ever "wonderful" Verizon

  • stuart

    @Brian - We already had Wifi tethering for that. I think this is more of a direct transfer of files between devices similar to bluetooth transfer but faster.

  • http://thefarmerslife.wordpress.com Brian

    Stuart and Zomby I think upon rereading this you are correct. I read too much into it. 95% of the time I'll have Wifi in the office or at home for tablet use, just not out in the field. That's why it's not worth me paying for a whole other wireless plan. I'm on Verizon if that helps, who now wants to charge $20 for tethering although I'm aware there are ways around it. Thanks guys.

  • Paul

    It seems ICS integrates features from Touchwiz, SenseUI and even Cyanogenmod's modifications. It makes sense to cherry pick the best ideas from various sources that have compensated for something Gingerbread lacks. They took ideas/implementations from various hacks/overlays/modifications and integrated it into their latest stock Android OS. Not bad.

    • Chris

      Well said Paul.

    • skitchbeatz

      kind of what Apple does with various apps. I'm glad to see a lot of the UI changes they needed were actually implemented.

      I wish they had created an API for placing widgets as a notification. I am considering purchasing this and replacing my original Galaxy S. The only thing its missing are power control widgets in the notification shade.

      I'm still drooling over it though.

      • Neil

        There's already a mod for Honeycomb that puts power control in the notification shade (it's in the Prime ROM for the Asus eeePad) so it's certainly doable... might need root though.

        • skitchbeatz

          Sir, you may have just convinced me then.

  • brgulker

    Reminds me of Nintendo DS functionality.

  • Kree Terry

    I wonder if this will be air drop compatible, would save me a lot of trouble if it were.

  • Sean

    @ the author  -  What is the WiFi Direct app on your SII and can we get it on the Android market?  Is it a WiFi Direct or WiFi Display app?

  • roboHal

    We just put out a new version of our Wifi Direct sharing app and could really use some help testing it. Since it requires two fairly new devices to test its been a real challenge working to support more handsets without buying every type in existence! You can download the app here: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=hitchernet . We just implemented a backend logging service so the app should automatically send errors. Appreciate the help!