Sharing apps and files where there is no internet

Nearly half the world will be using the internet in some form by the end of 2015 – and half won’t.

While more and more people own web capable devices many do not have the high speed access others have so quickly taken for granted.

This post covers a few of the current ways of sharing apps and files where there is limited or no internet. Copyright restrictions often apply to sharing apps and files (even free ones) but some files are intended to be shared as widely and freely as possible. If in doubt ask first.

In many locations where internet is limited local people will often already know how to share files. Ask a teenager. Some methods of sharing files may leave users more exposed to viruses and malware.

Offline file sharing

  • Bluetooth
  • SD Card
  • USB cable to PC
  • USB cable to flash drive
  • WiFi Direct
  • Sharing files on the same network
  • Creating portable hotspots
  • Useful Android Apps
  • Lightstream and Biblebox

Bluetooth  – share phone to phone, or from a laptop. The plus side is you don’t need any extra cables and most phones even feature phones support this as a method of file transfer. The downside is a slower speed than some other methods. Various Android apps exist to make sending files even easier. See below.

SD Card – You can either give away SD cards containing content or copy files to the target phones SD card. (take out their card copy the files from your computer or phone). Micro SD cards are getting cheaper especially if ordering in bulk.
Cheapest SD cards available in the UK start at £1.71… .

Micro SD cards usually come with a converter to standard SD card size. USB readers are available from as little as £1.38… and can be used in conjunction with other cables to extra micro sd cards into a phone. For $12 plus postage provides a microsd card reader that plugs directly into smart phones.

USB cables – in addition to standard cables for connecting phones to laptops there are also cables that enable you to connect a standard USB Flash drive to a phone. NB Not all phones will recognise the drive but with cables available at less than £1 they seem to be a useful part of any file sharers equipment. (example at…  )

WiFi Direct is a relatively new approach that is faster than Bluetooth and essentially provides all the advantages of wifi without the internet or the need for a separate router. Newer phones and tablets may include it as standard and there are apps to help you make the most of it.

For an overview of wifi direct see…

File sharing over a network. There are a number of ways of sharing files or folders with other people who are connected to the same network. Several android apps offer the capability of sharing folders via a web interface. (you enter an IP address into your browser and download files). Many of these are designed for people to simply access their own phones from their PC’s without the need for cables and so provide full read / write access to everything on your phone. Some also use wifi direct or allow you to create a portable hotspot from your phone if this feature is supported.

Sharing from a PC  free software from seems to provide a good option that allows you to just select certain folders and keep everything read only.

Creating portable hotspots – Many smartphones and tablets offer the options of creating portable wifi hotspots. These are primarily designed for sharing your wifi but also create a network through which you can share other files either from your phone or from another device connected to the network. These can be public or hidden and require passwords to connect or not.

In the UK the cheapest smartphones that can do this are available from as little as £19.99 if upgrading an existing phone ( )

Useful Android Apps     

You can tell people about your favourite apps and digital content, you can show them, you can Bluetooth or email them links, you can go old school and write the name of the app on a piece of paper, or you can share them phone to phone.

Useful apps for sharing apps and files include Superbeam, Bluetooth App Sender, and ES File Explorer. Potentially my new favourite is Piratebox for Android. The downside is that it only runs from a rooted device but it creates a hotspot that people connect without the need for a password and then acts as a server diverting to a page (just like connecting to many free wifi hotspots ) from which people can download files. Piratebox also allows people to upload files but this function can be disabled and the interface adjusted to seem less ‘piratey’. See notes at .

Searching each of the above apps on  will find the apps and plenty of similar alternatives. Some useful free scripture apps are listed at and

Prepackaged Hardware solutions. Products such as Lightstream, BibleBox and WiFi Bible have been specifically designed to make sharing Scripture related materials easy in locations where both internet and electricity are a barrier. Both offer wifi hotspots and come with useful userfriendly interfaces. Lightstream also offers Bluetooth options and provides support sd card copying.

There are other good overviews of sharing phone to phone but technology moves fast and new solutions are constantly emerging.…  (2010)

Originally posted at Also available as a word file with a couple of graphics at

Please note prices and links quoted are for illustrative purposes and subject to change. Google and ask around for better deals.


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