Many people have never heard of Wi-Fi direct, while those that do don’t know what it does or how to use it. When you hear Wi-Fi, what first comes to your mind is browsing the internet. Wi-Fi Direct is like a second-generation Wi-Fi. It has over 600 members including LG, Apple, Dell, Intel, and Microsoft among others. Most devices manufactured recently are Wi-Fi Direct compatible. You’ll find it on your laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and even digital cameras. After it was first used on the Samsung Galaxy S in 2010, many other smartphones included it in the package. In this article, we’re going to be showing you how to use the Wi-Fi Direct on your phone.
What is Wi-Fi Direct?
Wi-Fi Direct is just like Wi-Fi. It is a connection that allows your device to connect to another device (instead of connecting to the internet). This device-to-device connection is done without a nearby centralized network. One device is the access point, while the other will connect to it using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) security protocols. So, your connection is safe.
Many people have confused Wi-Fi Direct for Bluetooth, even arguing that they work the same way. But, this is not entirely true, as there are huge differences between both of them. The first time we used Wi-Fi Direct, we noticed that it was much faster than Bluetooth. While Bluetooth will take several minutes to send a file, Wi-Fi Direct will transfer the same file from one device to another within seconds. This implies that Wi-Fi Direct can handle information ten times faster than Bluetooth. So, if you want to transfer huge files, don’t think of Bluetooth first.
Because Wi-Fi Direct is very secure, users are very comfortable sharing files when there is no Wi-Fi network available. It can link to more than two devices, building a safe data-sharing hub. If you’re looking for a device that has Wi-Fi Direct around you, just put on your Wi-Fi. These devices will pop-up if the Wi-Fi direct is enabled. It usually starts with DIRECT, then you’ll see the name of the person or product after.
How Wi-Fi Direct Works
There are various standards put in place to ensure that Wi-Fi Direct can share data seamlessly between devices. They include:
- Wi-Fi: A device using Wi-Fi Direct can function as an access point, just like with WiFi-enabled devices. They use the same technology to connect with wireless routers.
- WPA2: Wi-Fi Direct uses WPA-2 encryption to secure your data.
- Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS): WPS connection is not secure as it uses a vulnerable pin method, but Wi-Fi Direct uses it to connect two devices automatically.
- Wi-Fi Direct Device and Service Discovery: This is what allows two devices to discover each other before they connect. With this service, you can also filter available Wi-Fi Direct devices to see only those that can do the task you want (applicable to wireless printers).
Wi-Fi direct works by making use of all these technologies.
What Devices Can You Use Wi-Fi Direct on?
Wi-Fi Direct has been available for a decade now. When it was first released, you would rarely find any device that used it. People didn’t even know what to do with it. But, since the 2011 Digital Living Network Alliance (DNLA) update which showed how to use the feature, more devices started including them. Even some Android devices with Android 2.3 and Apple devices with IOS 7 use Wi-Fi Direct. If you’re using iPhone, your Wi-Fi Direct goes by AirDrop and AirPlay.
Wi-Fi Direct is not limited to smartphones. Other entertainment devices like Xbox, Roku, and Chromecast also use it. You can also connect your device to many smart TVs using Wi-Fi Direct. Other devices you can connect with include wireless keyboards, headsets, and printers.
5 Benefits of Wi-Fi Direct
The benefits of Wi-Fi Direct makes it so obvious that it is much better than Bluetooth. These days, people have been using Wi-Fi Direct for:
- File sharing: As mentioned above, Wi-Fi Direct is one of the best ways to share files between the two devices. If you can’t set up wired connections between multiple devices, Wi-Fi Direct is a feasible way to get the job done fast.
- Playing games: You don’t need Wi-Fi to play games with your friends. If there’s no Wi-Fi connection to play multiplayer games, you can connect with Direct.
- Printing: If you want to print, you can use Wi-Fi Direct to connect your smartphone or any other device with your wireless printer.
- Syncing: You can sync your device with another device to update your media. So, if someone has music playlists you like, you can simply use Wi-Fi Direct to get them on your phone too.
- Screen-sharing: Wi-Fi Direct has been used for a lot of screen-sharing tasks, including playing mobile games on your PC and sharing slideshows or photos on big screens.
How Secure is Wi-Fi Direct?
We mentioned earlier that your Wi-Fi Direct has some security features such as the WPA2 protected access security protocol. However, there are security risks when using Direct. Your connection becomes risky when you connect to a device that is connected to another network. If your device is using the older WPS protocol, then your connection can be hacked and an outsider can get into your device. Connecting with Wi-Fi Direct means the other party can access your information (if you’re not careful enough).
When using Wi-Fi Direct, you can either decide to make temporary or persistent connections. In persistent connections, both devices store the connection data. So, when next you want to connect, you don’t have to set it up again. This type of connection is riskier, and you should only use it with trusted devices like those you use at home. Temporary connections are more secure because they do not share connection data. So, you have to follow the same steps to connect both devices anytime you want to perform any data sharing activities.
If you still use old Wi-Fi Direct connections, you should change to newer ones to ensure your data is safe. Also, don’t use Wi-Fi Direct in public locations, as hackers are getting even smarter and can try to hack into your device over Wi-Fi
How to Connect Your Wi-Fi Direct to Another Device?
The mode of connection may differ based on the type of devices you want to connect. For some, you have to scan a QR code to connect, while others involve pressing buttons, entering numerical pins, and many involve using multiple techniques (for tighter security). Some devices (very few) even connect automatically. So, if you want to connect to another device, simply follow the guidelines that pop up when you put on your Wi-Fi Direct and enjoy swift data and file sharing.
The below video shows the process of connecting two Android phones using the Wi-Fi Direct technology and transferring files between them.