There’s a wireless connection that’s used by all kinds of people and all sorts of devices, but hardly anyone talks about it: It’s called Wi-Fi Direct, and it’s been enabling versatile, peer-to-peer wireless connections for almost 10 years.
Let’s talk about what it is, what it can do, and what you need to know when using it.
WI-FI DIRECT DEFINED
Wi-Fi Direct is a connection that allows for device-to-device communication, linking devices together without a nearby centralized network. One device acts as an access point, and the other device connects to it using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) and WPA/WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) security protocols. The standard was developed and incorporated in devices in the early 2000s.
“Wait, that sounds like Bluetooth,” may be your response, and while the technologies may look similar at a glance, there are some important differences. One of the most important is that Wi-Fi Direct can handle more information at higher speeds than Bluetooth — around 10 times the speed in optimal conditions. This makes Direct a great choice when a peer-to-peer connection needs to transmit data-rich content, like a high-resolution image or a video — or when a Wi-Fi network is down.
One of the biggest advantages of Wi-Fi Direct is how versatile it can be where there’s no Wi-Fi network to act as a go-between for devices. Multiple devices can link to each other and share important files in casual settings or desperate circumstances alike, without the security worries (and time-consuming process) that come with connecting to a hub or central network first.
You can often tell when a device offers Direct, because, when you are searching, it will pop up with a wireless network of its own, usually one that starts with “DIRECT” followed by a product name or number.
DEVICES SUPPORTED BY WI-FI DIRECT
Wi-Fi Direct has been available to consumers nearing on a decade now thanks to the 2011 Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) update that included guidelines for the feature. Now the world is filled with compatible devices, including some you may not have expected. Android devices have supported Direct since Android 2.3, and Apple devices have had it since iOS 7 (although Apple markets the feature under its own names, the familiar “AirDrop” and “Airplay”).
There are also a lot of entertainment devices that make use of Direct to stream content or screencast from a mobile device. Chromecast, Roku, and Xbox all have it, and many smart TVs offer Wi-Fi Direct connections as well.
Then there are all the peripherals that offer wireless connections, which may use Wi-Fi Direct instead of Bluetooth. That includes wireless headsets with high fidelity audio, wireless printers, and even accessories like keyboards…….Read More>>