AirPlay and AirDrop are the two features in Apple devices that allow you to play media and share files respectively with the use of a local Wifi network. This is about to change in the latest iOS 8.
The core sharing protocols between devices are improved and AirDrop, the simple file sharing mechanism introduced in OS X Lion and iOS 7, will now work between Macs and iOS devices. And AirPlay, the video and audio streaming protocol that plays back music and movies from iPhone, Macs, etc. on Apple TV and approved accessories will work without requiring a shared local wifi connection.
The newly announced feature Continuity in OS X Yosemite will also work without a shared wifi connection like to make/receive calls, text messages etc. Apple has taken these steps in order to provide users a seamless experience without them worrying about other technologies. Apple uses a combination of shared network, proximity signals and iCloud account identification to make these work, but the point is that in use, these hidden elements are mostly unseen by users.
The problem is we have become too much reliant on our shared networks. Anything we want to do on our mobile devices we are at the mercy of the wifi network around us. Any content we want to share or if we want to make two devices work together, we need a wifi network. Our networked devices are growing every year we now have smartwatches, smart glasses and what not. Now anybody with malicious intent can take control of the wifi network and he enters into out personal life by controlling all these networked devices.
Apple still provides many services that make use of the local network, but it does make without it whenever it can. This is the right way to go in tech for the right moment, and it prefaces a future where we don not care how our devices are connected. And we focus on getting our work done and enjoying the content.