Shareit (opens in new tab) has been designed to make sharing files between Windows, macOS, Android and iOS as easy as possible, without tripping users up with complicated protocols and configuration options, and without relying on the native sharing options already available.
It's one of quite a few file sharing apps on the market, and as far as we can tell there aren't too many reasons to pick Shareit over all the others: not unless you want to spend a lot of time having content and adverts pushed in your face, which seems the case on mobile.
- You can sign up for Shareit here (opens in new tab)
First and foremost, Shareit is a file sharing program – one without any file size limits, and offering speedy transfer speeds, based on our testing. It comes from a company that was originally part of Lenovo, as one application in a suite of tools across desktop and mobile: tools that cover device maintenance, mobile playback, hardware security and more.
There are video and music playback options built right into Shareit, actually, which would seem to suggest that a lot of its users are swapping movies and audio tracks. Other extras include galleries of GIFs, wallpapers and other material, as well as a spot in the app for trending music and online videos, suggesting that the developers are trying to leverage its success to create something that goes beyond swapping files between devices.
The Shareit apps work via a direct device-to-device connection that the developers claim is capable of speeds up to 20 megabytes per second – most of the transfers we tried were around half that, but it's definitely speedy enough for small files to get moved over in just a few seconds, and it's hard to complain about Shareit in terms of the core functionality or how fast it is.
The setup can be less straightforward than you would initially think though. Setting up an Android-to-iOS connection involves creating a hotspot from your Android device that the iOS device can latch on to – and once you've done that, then you can send the file over. For most people, it'll just be easier to use Dropbox, WhatsApp or something similar.
The Shareit interface is very basic when it comes to PC and Mac, and very cluttered when it comes to Android and iOS. On desktop and laptop computers, you're essentially dealing with a single window showing a QR code – and once that is recognized by the mobile app, you can start transferring files.
Over on Android, Shareit looks more like the Google Play Store than a file sharing app: you're immediately met with a plethora of apps, games and other content that you might (but probably don't) want to enjoy on your phone. You'll also probably be met with an ad or two as you scroll as well. The iOS app is simpler, but still has the ads.
It's all a little bit too overwhelming and too separated from the core functionality, which is sharing: when it comes to the actual sharing, the mobile apps don't do a bad job. You can see other devices with Shareit installed in a cool radar-style interface, and connecting usually works well in our experience – we did see file transfers fail a couple of times though, so it's far from an infallible app.
The integrated music and video players both work as advertised, enabling you to play anything already stored on your phone, but they seem like odd extras in a file sharing app like this. These are only available on Android though, and it seems the developers have been able to cram much more into the Android app than the iOS one.
The only real security you've got for your files is the Shareit network – if you've made your device discoverable through the app, then anyone can send files to you or receive files that you're sharing. It would be a difficult system to crack into without having physical access to the devices, but there are no advanced security features like PINs or passwords, and transferred data isn't encrypted.
In terms of permissions on mobile, Shareit asks for access to the camera (for scanning QR codes) and your phone's storage, as well as your location, your contacts and your microphone – some of those seem like a bit of a reach, especially the microphone one (you can of course block these permissions if you're not happy with them).
Shareit is completely free to use on Windows, macOS and Android, which is definitely one of the major plus points about the service. There are free and paid-for versions on iOS, with the premium app removing the ads and costing you $2.99 or £2.99. Apart from the ad removal, there's no change in functionality.
It's obviously the ads where Shareit makes its money, plus the wealth of extra content that it attempts to push through the Android app. If you're using Shareit on a phone powered by Google software then you'll see ads popping up every few seconds, and it's enough to put you off the app.
Device-to-device file sharing is something that a lot of people are interested in and need, and to its credit Shareit has a go at providing it. When it comes to the basic data transfer, the applications work pretty well and pretty quickly, on the whole – though some connections (such as iOS to Android) are more complicated to set up than you would ideally want them to be.
On the downside, the occasional reliability problems and deluge of ads (especially on Android) mean that we find it hard to wholeheartedly recommend Shareit – it feels more like a content shop with file sharing tacked on. There are quite a few options better than Shareit for device-to-device file sharing out there, especially if you're sharing across the same platform.
- Check out the best file sharing apps available right now