Eye-Fi releases card firmware, iOS and Android apps for new Direct Mode
Eye-Fi, makers of the SD cards with built-in WiFi, has released a firmware update for their X2 series of cards that enables Direct Mode. With Direct Mode you can configure the cards to send photos and videos directly from your camera to your smartphone or tablet, using apps for both the iOS and Android platforms.
To use Direct Mode you have to have an X2 series Eye-Fi card with the latest firmware. Older Eye-Fi cards don't have Direct Mode capability. To configure your card and device, follow the step-by-step instructions for iOS and Android on the Eye-Fi site. It's a multi-step process and may not seem very easy to some. You first have to enable Direct Mode on the card (update the firmware too, if needed) using the Eye-Fi Center software on your computer. Then using the iOS or Android app, you have to pair your card with your device. In the last step you change the WiFi settings on your smartphone or tablet making it appear as if you're using the Eye-Fi card as a WiFi hotspot. In fact, you're setting up an ad-hoc network for direct transfer of photos and videos to your mobile device.
The app will display an SSID (Service Set Identifier) network name for the Eye-Fi card and also provides a WPA2 password for security. In the iOS app the password is not displayed but there is a copy button for copying the password to the clipboard so you can easily paste it into your WiFi settings. The copy button offers no feedback when pressed, so it looks like it isn't working but it is.
In tests with the Android app on a Motorola Xoom and an HTC Thunderbolt, no copy button for the password was present. As a matter of fact, I was not able to get Direct Mode working on either Android device after 1.5 hours of trying. For some reason neither device would connect to the card, saying it was "out of range" even when it was sitting just inches away. So it appears the Android version is not yet ready for prime time.
With the iOS version of the app, however, everything works as advertised but the setup is definitely designed for detail-oriented people. Follow the steps, be patient and it will work. You even can tell the app to display the photos in full-screen mode, which is really cool. With an iPad it's like having a slide show featuring photos as you make them.
Once the photos are sent to your mobile device you can quickly and easily share them to multiple places at the same time with just a couple of clicks. Configure your card to send to Flickr, your computer at home and also to Eye-Fi View, for instance, to share three copies and save a bunch of time.
A couple of caveats for this system, though. If you're using Direct Mode you can't be attached to a WiFi network with your mobile device at the same time. So while you can receive your photos from your camera, you won't be able top share them until you break the connection from the card and get back on the WiFi network. If you're using a 3G or 4G data connection you can be in Direct Mode and share photos at the same time. Also, for the card to work it has to have power, so you can't let your camera go to sleep or the connection will be broken. This uses your cameras battery much faster than normal, so be prepared with extra batteries. And lastly, you can't do automatic sharing to Flickr, Photobucket, etc. and Direct Mode at the same time. So if your priority is to upload pictures to a social media site as quickly as possible, Direct Mode may not be the best choice.