I’ve noticed a growing trend in the use of ‘share’ functions across platforms. It’s an interesting concept with great variation in it’s implementation. I’ll discuss the differences in sharing on Android, OSX and Windows 8.
Android is the only place that I’ve really made any use of a share feature. It’s used primarily for passing content between applications on the device itself rather than to an external service. I mainly tend to use it as an ‘open with’ feature - however it’s a little more than that. It’s context sensitive and handles different file types very well. It’s closer to the combination of copy + paste and open with really - it’s good and is a truly useful feature. The only issue I would raise is the lack of the option to hide sharing targets. It would be nice to be able to hide them as you can hide the applications themselves, however it seems this is not possible.
While Airdrop itself was actually a new feature for 10.7 Lion, 'sharing’ wasn't brought centre stage until last year with Mountain Lion. For me these new options have been crippled by poor behaviour under proxy servers and the lack of any API for 3rd party developers. It would be nice to be able to share pictures to Google+ in the same way I do on my phone but I guess we’ll just have to wait (or not) for that. I think Apple’s 'walled garden’ trend is damaging user experience, it’s certainly damaged mine. The awkward foibles of the iOS methodology are slowing creeping in, lets just hope they don’t cripple the mac.
One of the reasons behind my lack of experience with the Windows 8 'share charm’ is due to the lack of support. It lacks sources and targets for share actions. This, as with many other features of the new OS, is it’s downfall. I would say, however, that it has a much greater potential than that of OSX.
I would say the separating factor is (near) global visibility. Share is everywhere on Android, this helps familiarise users with the feature and makes them more confident to use it. Windows Charms are good too, perhaps even better setup than android, however the lack of targets turns great ingenuity into nothing. OSX tails behind, crippled by lack of 3rd party support and restricted access to the feature.