One of the hidden gems in BlackBerry 10.1 is a new feature for Link that allows you to remotely access files on your PC from your BlackBerry Q10 or BlackBerry Z10. Yes, you can do this when you're on the cellular network, far away from your home's Wi-Fi. This, in a nutshell, is awesome. Sure, there are a few reputable third parties that provide this kind of service, but having the functionality baked right into BlackBerry 10's native file explorer, right beside microSD and Dropbox storage, is ridiculously helpful. All you need to get started is the latest version of BlackBerry Link, and BlackBerry 10.1 on your phone.
As is the case with most of these kinds of solutions, your computer has to be turned on, but luckily Link doesn't have to be running in the background in order for you to be able to access your designated shared directories. After you've paired up your BlackBerry 10.1 device with Link 1.1 and up, just tap the little gear at the top when your computer is the active tab along the bottom. Here, you'll have a list of the familiar settings, but the new section is Remote File Access. Just make sure that your BlackBerry is checked off in that section, and designate which computer folders you want to share below that.
On the device side, there's a new section under settings for BlackBerry Link which has to have everything enabled - the Link toggle, and Download Files Over Mobile Network. You'll also have a list of the computers that BlackBerry is connected to. Yes, if you've paired up your phone with, say, a work computer and a home computer, you'll be able to remotely access files on either one (provided they're turned on). Apparently the system also allows you to browse mapped network drives and NAS drives too, which is awesome for business set-ups. Though the main use case here is reading files on your PC from your phone, this Link file sharing is a two-way street; if one were so inclined, you could save files right onto your computer from your BlackBerry 10 device. Why, you can open up text files in Documents to Go, edit them on your device, save it, and have your changes propagate back to the original.
There are a few caveats. For one, you can only play music files one at a time - an unfortunate turn for those hoping they could turn their home PC into their own personal cloud jukebox while on the move. It's also clear that the Active Frame representation of your free hard drive space isn't fleshed out yet, though that might not be something you necessarily need to know while you're on the move anyway. Naturally, larger files like videos will need longer to buffer, and that may be more of a strain on your device's battery than it's worth, depending on the circumstance. There aren't any thumbnails for images just yet, but maybe we'll see that before 10.1 goes public. One tiny hurdle I bumped into was my Windows Firewall - be sure to turn yours off or get a working exception set up.
I've only gone the afternoon with remote file access in this way, and I can already see it as being something I'll use regularly. What do you guys think? Pretty sweet, eh? Do you see yourself using this often? What do you think about leaving your computer on all the time for this kind of function?
Need help setting it up? Check out our forum thread!