Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
iPhone Integration [rating:3/5]
User Interface [rating:5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3/5]
Handshake does one thing, but does it well. Ok TWO things, but the main function is to send information from your Address Book on the iPhone or iPod Touch to someone else. You can also use it to send photos stored on your device.
Palm devices have been "beaming" this kind of info for many years using infra-red transceivers, and was a very popular way to transfer contact information between devices...assuming the people you met also had a Palm device. Most Desktop-based address book applications give you the ability to send a "vCard" which is a widely accepted standard for exchanging contact info. It seems like an essential function to have on the iPhone, but I suppose Apple expects that you won't mind using the virtual keyboard. That is all well and good, but a real conversation stopper to spend a few minutes entering data.
Along comes Handshake, which adds this functionality with just a few button presses. Launching the app presents you with 3 options, after you confirm that you are who the app thinks you are so it knows which contact is you. Then it briefly connects to Skorpiotech's servers which is necessary to convert the data to vCard format. This also facilitates trading info with other people using Handshake more quickly. You are given the options to "Send my card", "Send other card", and "Send a picture
Choosing "Send my card" automatically picks your own contact data to send and looks to see if there is anyone else who has connected to the server with their copy of Handshake. If they are nearby, their name will automatically show up in the list. You can then pick them and Handshake will connect to their device to ask them if they want to accept the information. On the receiving end, the user is presented with the option to look at the info, and send their own card back automatically, simply preview the info, or deny the transfer. When the data is previewed, there is a button to add the data to the Address Book. The process is pretty quick, even on the Edge network, but maybe not during MacWorld Expo.
The "Send other card" is the same except you are first presented with your Address Book list to pick another contact to send. In both cases, if the other person doesn't have Handshake or if you want to send contact data to someone far away, there is an envelope icon in the lower left which allows you to email a vCard for them to import later. The email goes through the Skorpiotech servers, but once you have set your email info in Handshake's preferences, it will appear to the recipient that the message came from your account. Unfortunately, since the iPhone/iPod Touch's Address Book does not yet support vCards, this info cannot be imported from the Mail app on the device. You will have to import and sync from your desktop computer. This is an Apple issue, not a Handshake problem.
Finally, the "Send a picture" option is ideal if you are connected to another Handshake user and makes exchanging photos quicker and easier. As with the contact function, you can use the email option which also uses the Skorpiostech servers, but the advantage is that it sends a higher resolution image than the built-in, mobile Mail app. For anyone who doesn't know, sending any photos from an iPhone or iPod Touch using the Mail app automatically reduces the size of the image to...
The app also has a "Share" button, which sends a user a link to download Handshake. The Handshake preferences offer a few handy options like a toggle to omit the transfer of content from the Notes field for the chosen contact, in case you have personal info in it that you don't want people to have. Another option allows you to add your name and date to the Notes field of the contact you send so the recipient knows where the info came from. Useful for conventions and such.
The Pro and Free versions have identical functionality, but the Free version displays ads at the top of the main menu screen. I did not find the ads intrusive, nor did it seem to affect the performance of the app, so I'd recommend that version although paying the $2.99 would help support the developers.
There isn't much I can find that this app needs to add. Shortly before I began this review they added the ability to email an vCard option which was my only complaint of the original, which was dependent on all users having Handshake on their device. Nothing fancy here, but the app is well done and a must have on your device if you need an easy way to exchange contact info.