Apps for File Management

5 04 2013

One year with iPad tells me:
The hardware is grown-up and the software is a bit embryonic.

File sharing is an indispensable requirement for collaborating, backing up relevant files and continue working on other devices.
For my private and business environment the following features should be provided by apps for the iPad and the iPhone.

  • Connection to well-known cloud providers
  • Connection to external storages via WebDAV
  • Connection to storages attached to Windows networks
  • Connection to storages attached to Apple’s routers
  • Connection via SMB, FTP, SFTP
  • E-Mail support for sending and receiving multiple documents from within the app
  • Reading all well-known file formats (Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, etc.)
  • Transfer of files between all connections
  • Organization of files in self-created folders

Some technical information about SMB …

Wikipedia: Server Message Block
In computer networking, Server Message Block (SMB), also known as Common Internet File System (CIFS) operates as an application-layer network protocol mainly used for providing shared access to files, printers, serial ports, and miscellaneous communications between nodes on a network.

Not only does SMB allow computers to share files, but it also enables computers to share printers and even serial ports from other computers within the network. For example, a computer connected to a Windows network could print a document on a printer connected to another computer on the network, as long as both machines support the SMB protocol.

Though SMB was originally developed for Windows, it can also be used by other platforms, including Unix and Mac OS X, using a software implementation called Samba. By using Samba instructions, Mac, Windows, and Unix computers can share the same files, folders, and printers. This is great for those Windows-based office networks where there is a graphic designer who refuses to use anything but a Mac and a tech guy who does everything on his Linux machine.

Do the following apps meet the requirements?

  • File Browser (Stratospherix)
  • USB Disk Pro (Imesart)
  • Air Sharing (Avatron)
  • Documents (Readdle)
  • Phone Drive (83 Technology)
  • GoodReader (GoodiWare)

Note
You miss Files Connect by Antecea?
This application is not reviewed any longer as the developer did not fix severe bugs since months. I posted these bugs more than 6 months ago but nothing happened.

File Browser (Stratospherix)

20130205-164535.jpg

Lacks …
No WebDAV support
No FTP support
Support only for Dropbox, Box and SkyDrive

USB Disk Pro (Imesart)

20130205-164550.jpg

Lacks …
No support for SMB protocol
that means network attached storages are not accessible

Air Sharing (Avatron)

20130205-164603.jpg

Lacks…
No support for SMB protocol

Why not, I asked the developers?
Here is the strange, but true answer:

Aaron, Feb 04 12:05 (PST):
Hello Thomas,

Thanks for contacting us with your questions about Air Sharing. I’d be happy to help.

Air Sharing is only able to connect directly to a device that supports WebDAV, SSH, or FTP. Devices like Apple’s Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme don’t natively support these connection methods. As a work around you can still access the files stored on these devices by using your Mac as an intermediary. First, mount the network storage drives on your Mac and then connect to the Mac with Air Sharing to browse the attached volumes.

Currently we don’t have plans to incorporate SMB support into Air Sharing. We have looked into the possibility but have decided that we would prefer to focus on protocols that provide the greatest functionality across all operating systems. Sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Cheers, Aaron, Technical Support
Avatron Software, Inc.

My comment:
If somebody tells me that SMB/CIFS does not provide great functionality he better should not write answers to questions of customers.

Documents (Readdle)

20130205-164616.jpg

Lacks …
No support for SMB protocol
Imtegrated E-Mail client (included in the former version called ‘ReaddleDocs’) is withdrawn; E-Mails with multiple attachments are supported.

Benefits …
Perfect UI
ZIP support

Phone Drive (83 Technology)

20130205-164628.jpg

Lacks …
No support for SMB protocol
No WebDAV support
Only Dropbox and iCloud supported

Benefits…
iOS to iOS file transfer

GoodReader (GoodiWare)

20130205-164644.jpg

20130205-165112.jpg

Lacks …
The UI needs getting used to

Benefits …
iOS to iOS file transfer
ZIP support

Summary …

You remember my introduction?
I talked about embryonic software.

What I cannot understand is that most of the developers obviously do not create a list of indispensable requirements for users of an iOS device. They all know the limitations and restrictions of iOS devices and the fact that Windows is the most widely spread operating system in the world. Is it in line with the market and the requirements of users not to support a suitable file transfer?

So it comes to more or less relevant lacks which force the users to install a couple of apps basically doing the same tasks.

My personal favorite is Documents by Readdle with the help of Goodreader by Goodiware. But you have to focus on your own requirements and I hope this article helps a bit for deciding which app fits best.


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2 responses

18 04 2013
Mariam

This is quite a comprehensive review of file management apps. My personal preference is also for Documents by Readdle. When I first started using iPad, I purchased a file management app (can’t remember the name now) after reading an extremely positive and a very detailed review full of praises, on a highly popular blog. I was later disappointed to learn that Documents, available freely, provided better functionality than the paid one!

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18 04 2013
iNotes4You

Thanks for your comment, Mariam.
It’s not easy to find out the right apps for personal use and you always have to pay first. We all have to accept that one app never will meet all the requirements, that’s my personal experience.

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