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Handoff sends URLs, maps, more from Mac to iOS

Mac developers IdeaSwarm and iOS dev team InfinitApps, both Minnesota-based, have collaborated on a cloud-based service and app combination called Handoff that allows computer owners to “push” URLs, Google Maps, phone numbers and text to their iOS devices. Through the use of a free account, a browser extension (or bookmarklet) and the $2 app for the iOS device, the service handles one-way transfers from Mac (or PC) to iOS device nearly instantly, similar to the way MobileMe members get instant updates of certain types of data.

As an example, a user is surfing a web page on their Mac and runs across a phone number that would be useful to have on their iPhone. The user could copy and paste the information into Address Book, then re-sync the iOS device (or wait until the next routine sync) whereupon the phone number would be transferred to the iPhone. With Handoff, the user simply highlights the phone number, right-clicks to select “Handoff Selected Text” and the phone number is instantly “pushed” to the iPhone, where it can be dialled immediately or added to Contacts.

Likewise, URLs, Google Maps and selected text can be passed almost instantly from a computer to an iOS device. The maps option is handy for owners of iOS devices that don’t have 3G data or GPS (or don’t wish to use it continuously). A traveller could use local Wi-Fi to obtain a map of their route, then “Handoff” the map to their iPod Touch, which will open the map and store it for future reference. The iOS app keeps a list of items so users can easily recall previously-sent data (up to a limit of 25 items).

The Handoff service supports Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer via extensions on either major platform — bookmarklets should be able to lend support to other browsers — and the Handoff iOS app supports any iOS device capable of running iOS 3 or higher. An account with IdeaSwarm (free) is required (they handle the “push” serving).

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