From Bad to Worse

22 09 2017

Apple’s app FILES not worth to use it

Add third-party apps to let FILES access my cloud providers? What a strange idea. I can’t define access to cloud storages or computers by entering my credentials. Also not supported is WebDAV.

Note

In 1995, Microsoft first released „NewShell“ which replaced the Windows 3 file manager with Windows Explorer. Believe me, this early version of Windows Explorer was better than Apple’s app FILES in 2017.

I use the apps Documents, File Browser, and File Explorer and they all do their job much better than Apple’s embryonic FILES app. Again I see a totally unfinished product.

Although file management was always a problem in iOS because it generates a crazy amount of redundant files when using the ‚Open in‘ command, nothing changed with iOS 11. Do we have to wait another decade?

I still can’t access files in the DOCUMENTS directory of other apps or, as an alternative, in a publicly available directory.

File management in FILES is driving me crazy. Lots of missing features and lots of bugs. Have a look at my image. No chance to remove this folder which caused an error during the creation process.

Apple tells us about its iOS file system

Every app is an island.

During installation of a new app, the installer code creates a home directory for the app, places the app in that directory ( /AppName .app) and creates several other key directories. These directories constitute *the app’s primary view of the file system and represents the universe for that app*. It contains everything the app can access directly. The problem is that there is no directory which could be shared with other apps.

More about
a secure but not user-friendly file system

Every app is an iLand

Apple Support: Files

Thanks for 💧ping by.





Out of memory

1 03 2013

If your iOS-Device is beginning to run out of memory it’s time to look for files, their sizes, and their locations. And it’s time to clean up the mess.

Can I upgrade the memory of my device?

That might be your first question when your device is beginning to get less and less free space.
The answer is, no. The memory of an iOS device is fixed to that value you once had when you purchased your iPhone or iPad.

Where can I see the the memory usage?

Go to Settings – General – Usage.

The image is taken from an iPad 3 with 64 GB.

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What you see is that the sum of Available and Used is 57,2 GB. The difference to 64 GB is 6.8 GB and used for the operating system. On an iPhone you will get a slightly different value of 6.6 GB for iOS.

What you also can see is the space used by the installed apps. If you tap on a non built-in app the App Size is and the size of it’s data are displayed.

The used space is displayed in a descending order. This enables you to quickly identify the apps which are on the heavy side.

On most of the devices running out of memory the total size of movies, music, podcasts and (with reservations) photos are responsible for the problem.

Type of Media Mean Size MB
Photo 1.3
Song 7.6
Video 1m 25.1

(These values have been calculated as mean values on an iPhone with 197 songs, 430 photos, and 17 videos.)

What you can see is that the problem usually does not come up with photos. 800 photos would use 1 GB unless your device is an 8 GB version.

Disadvantage of the iOS filesystem …

There is a disadvantage in the concept of the iOS filesystem often not taken into account.

Specific folders are assigned for each app on your device. An app only can work with these folders and not with folders of another app. This is what Apple calls ‘The sandbox mode‘ and it’s designed for security reasons. An iOS app’s interactions with the filesystem are limited mostly to the directories within the app’s sandbox. Because it is in a sandbox an app is generally prohibited from accessing or creating files outside its home directory.

That’s why Apple implemented a functionality called ‘Open in’ to enable transferring a file from one app to another.

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If you use ‘Open in’ frequently it may take a lot of space and, what should always be avoided, there are redundant copies of files. After a short time you won’t know where to find the original version. But this is only the case if you use many apps which in general provide the same features.

Refer to my blogs

Every app is an iLand

iTunes and File Sharing

for basics of the iOS filesystem.

Intermediate result …

Frequently cleaning up your device in total saves time.
If you make an extensive use of the ‘Open in’ command delete the transferred files either at source or final destination, that means in the local folder of the source or the finally used app.
I recommend to do so anyway regardless of whether there is a low memory problem or not.

Keep in mind that iOS provides no ‘Finder’ respectively ‘Explorer’ to perform a full-text-search on your device to find out where the required file is located.

My personal opinion …
You remember a famous dictum of Steve Jobs?
It just works. Agree, but the user has to fire on all cylinders as well.

Suggestions for the come-back of memory …

STEP 1

Go to Settings – General – Usage.
Tap on apps you do not need any longer and then tap on Delete App.
Keep in mind that whenever you delete an app the related data are deleted too. They only cam be restored from external copies (iTunes, cloud storage, hard drive, USB).

STEP 2

Open frequently used apps and delete unwanted files stored in the app specific folders (folder for documents and folder for images).

STEP 3

Transfer rarely used files to a cloud storage e.g. iDriveSync or Dropbox or a local hard drive via iTunes File Sharing.

STEP 4

Take your time to delete apps from your device.
Nobody needs 50 or more apps, except bloggers who check them all for you.

You might say I need them all because none is fully developed and meets my requirements.
Agree. iPad is ready but at the time the software is still a bit embryonic. So update all apps on your device and read the update feature description of apps you use. Some apps have got important extensions to their feature list so that other apps may be obsolete.

STEP 5

Apple’s apps iBooks, iTunes U, and Podcasts are space consuming apps.
Delete media you don’t need any longer. If you need some of them again later you can download them again. You don’t have to pay another time for as Apple manages your list of apps and media and allows repeated downloads as often as you like.

Files overview …

To het an overview of files on an iOS device I used the demo version of iExplorer by Macroplant with some limitations. After installing the application on a Windows PC or a Mac and connecting your iOS device to your computer via USB it allows you to access the app specific folders on the iPad or iPhone. You can use this app to delete files on your device that are no longer needed.

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Thanks for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed it.
If so I would appreciate your comment or share with your friends.
That’s the blogger’s food.





iTunes and File Sharing

24 02 2013

Introduction …

Apple offers an application called iTunes to install on a Mac/PC.
This application provides a functionality called File Sharing for supporting the transfer of files between an iOS device and a computer. When I talk about File Sharing I talk about the tab APPS in iTunes and not about music, photos, or other stuff.

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You should always keep in mind that regular backups of your device are indispensable but there is no way to extract a single file from this backup for restoring it on your device. If you loose a file you must have a copy elsewhere to restore it, or, you must restore your complete device and loose all your data changed after the last backup.

Note

For some other files the data exchange is also supported without the use of iTunes, e.g. the Photo Stream where photos are transferred automatically to iCloud and from there transferred to all other devices using the same Apple ID.

To understand File Sharing we first take a glimpse on the iOS filesystem.
Refer to the image above.

Specific folders are assigned for each app on your device. An app only can work with these folders and not with folders of another app. This is what Apple calls ‘The sandbox mode‘ and it’s designed for security reasons. An iOS app’s interactions with the filesystem are limited mostly to the directories within the app’s sandbox. Because it is in a sandbox an app is generally prohibited from accessing or creating files outside its home directory. One exception from this rule is when an app uses public system interfaces to access things such as the user’s contacts.

This design prohibits direct access from your computer to files on your device, e.g. you cannot copy a PDF which was generated by the app Scanner Pro after scanning a document.
However, a user must have access to some files on his iOS device to further use them on the computer. This functionality is provided by iTunes File Sharing.

How to use File Sharing …

How to install and configure iTunes see

Apple iTunes: How to set up an Apple ID

Connect your iOS device to your computer using the included Dock Connector to USB cable.
Launch iTunes on your computer. Select your iOS device from the Devices section of iTunes.

Click the Apps tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Note

If you do not see the File Sharing section shown in the image below, your iOS device does not have any apps that support File Sharing.

.

Under the File Sharing section, you’ll find a list of apps currently installed on your iOS device that support File Sharing. Select an app to view a list of the files associated with that app on your iOS device.

How to copy files from and to the iOS device …

Drag and drop files onto the Documents list to copy them to the app on your iOS device or…
Click the Add… button, locate the file or files you want to copy from your computer, and click Choose. The selected files will be copied to the app on your iOS device immediately. Select only files that are supported by the iOS device app. Refer to the iOS app’s documentation to determine which file formats are supported.

Avoid data loss …

Be careful …

If you delete an app on your iOS device
you also delete all files associated with it.
That’s a consequence of the above explained iOS file system.

To avoid losing files on your iOS device associated with the app, back up and copy shared files to your computer frequently, and especially prior to deleting the application from your iOS device.

To do this, select the files shown in the Documents section of the specific app and copy them to a local folder on your computer. The folder should be named with the app’s name.
If your device is an iPad, the app, which files you want to save is Apple’s Keynote than put the files in a well-named folder on your computer and name it like

…iOSFileBackups\iPad\Keynote\presentation.key

Note

It depends on the app’s functionalities which way is best to avoid data loss.
Some apps with iCloud support, such as Apple’s iWork suite, save files as a local copy on your device and in iCloud to push them to other devices.
With other apps not supporting iCloud but supporting ‘Send by E-Mail’ you may send a file to your own E-Mail address and use it as a backup.

Syncing …

What is syncing compared to file sharing?

Syncing (with your computer) means that changes to files you made on your iOS device are transferred to your computer’s local hard drive when you connect your device via USB to your computer, open iTunes, select your device and start Syncing.

Which data are synced?

Documents Directory – ApplicationHome/Documents
The Documents directory is the primary location to save user and application related content. This directory and its subdirectories, are backed up when a user does a sync with iTunes. This directory is also the repository for iTunes file sharing content.

Documents Inbox – ApplicationHome/Documents/Inbox
The Documents Inbox is primarily used when an application such as Apple’s Mail app calls an app with a request to open a specific file type.
The file passed to the application (from the Mail Inbox) is stored in the Documents Inbox directory.
The content in the Documents Inbox directory is backed up when a device is synced with iTunes.

tmp – ApplicationHome/tmp
As the name implies, the tmp directory is available for files that are used only while your application is running. The content in the tmp directory is not backed up when a device is synced with iTunes.

Library – ApplicationHome/Library
The Library directory is intended for content that is not user generated. The content in the Library directory is backed up when a device is synced with iTunes, with one exception, there is a Caches directory that is not backed up.

You might think that if you sync you already have a copy of your data on your computer.
That’s true, but not in all cases.

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Example

Files of the app Discount Spreadsheet (Luminant Software) are updated in the File Sharing section of iTunes every time and immediately after you connect your device via USB.

Files of Apple’s iWork suite on the other hand are possibly not displayed. The reason than is that they never were copied to iTunes. As I figured out data of some apps have to manually transferred to iTunes.

There is no general rule which app presents its data in the File Sharing section of iTunes. If you don’t see any files after selecting an app, open the app on your iOS device and try to find an option (like File Sharing, e.g. app 1Password) or a command (like ‘Copy to iTunes’, e.g. apps of iWork suite) to transfer files to iTunes.

The possible behaviors of apps syncing with iTunes File Sharing sections are

  • automatically
    e.g. Tap Forms, Plain Text, Discount Spreadsheet
  • not automatically, only after manual action like ‘Copy to iTunes’
    e.g. iWork (Numbers, Pages, Keynote)
  • after entering credentials and selecting a command like ‘PC iTunes File Sharing’
    e.g. Safety P+V, Safety Notes
  • on demand after activating this feature in Settings of the app (File Sharing ON)
    e.g. 1Password

Syncing with iCloud …

For Apple’s iWork suite keep in mind that turning off syncing with iCloud stops syncing across all of your other devices and iWork files are only stored locally on your iOS device. You should never set the option ‘Use iCloud’ to OFF (Settings – options for Keynote, Numbers, Pages) if you work on more than one device.

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If you possibly turn it to ON later you will get a lot of messages regarding different versions of your documents and you have decide for each single document what to do (Keep it from this or that device or both).

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Summary …

There are apps supporting file sharing, other apps which do not, apps syncing with iCloud or not, apps providing backup functionalities, and others for which iTunes File Sharing is mandatory.

For Apple’s own iWork suite the situation is a bit confusing.
If you use iCloud the documents are synced with iCloud and across all your other devices but not backed up in iTunes. And unfortunately there is no option to copy them to iTunes in total.

Sorry!

You may think that this blog article is a bit confusing with all its If’s and Then’s and Else’s and But’s. But I don’t bare the blame. If there is no consistent concept there is no consistent description.

My personal recommendations …

Turn on Syncing via iCloud

Your benefit:
Data of iCloud capable apps are accessible on all of your devices
and are also available as local copies if you currently don’t have an internet connection.
But keep in mind that if you delete a file on one device it’s immediately deleted across all other devices using the same Apple ID.

Use an additional storage

Your benefit:
There is an extra level of copies of files which can be separately restored whatever happens on iCloud or on your device.
For iWork you may use the available WebDAV connection to a cloud provider (e.g. iDriveSync). If you install the related client application on your computer you will also have access from your computer to those files without using file sharing of iTunes.
Use ‘Copy to WebDAV’ every time you worked on a single document.

Useful links …


Apple How to transfer or sync content to your computer

Apple iOS: About File Sharing

Apple iWork for iOS: About File Sharing

Apple iOS: Syncing with iTunes

Apple iTunes: About iOS backups

iNotes4You iWork and iCloud





Fighting against the partition law

22 12 2012

The strong benefit of a database is the synopsis of otherwise widely spread informations. Apple’s App Store offers a lot of apps suitable for productive operations but all the informations saved by theses apps are cut into pieces saved in app-specific folders. That’s a consequence of the iOS-Filesystem.

See my blog Every app is an ‘iLand’.

So it’s time to analyze the usability of apps working on databases to fight against the partition law of iOS.

See my blogs about databases coming January 2013.

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From USB to camera roll

20 12 2012

To compare some settings on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with those of an iOS-Device, my son made some screenshots of his Android-Device and gave it to me on a USB-Stick.
To use the photos in a blog, I had to copy them to my iOS-Device.

My home configuration …

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The right app …

There are plenty of options for getting files on and off your iOS-Device, from adding them to specific applications using iTunes, to using cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Box and SkyDrive.

But its always the same problem with this giant App Store.
How to find the app that meets the requirements, does’t crash, is updated to new versions of iOS in a timely manner, provides an understandable and fast support and is consistent with Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

The app FileBrowser adds to a lot of (mostly useless) apps for transferring files.
The good news is, it supports the Windows-friendly SMB-Protocol.

Essentially, FileBrowser lets you access any SMB share, whether that’s on a Mac, Windows PC or network attached storage device, on a local network or across the internet. You can browse and download files, send them by mail and easily transfer them from one location to another.

It’s quick, and easy to use once set up – but if you’re not familiar with SMB, that set up can take a while (although the app tries to help you as much as possible with clear instructions).

Steps to do the job …

Set up the connection …

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Copy …

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Bridge the gulf, Apple

1 12 2012

There are some documents provided by Apple presenting cases of business applications on the iPad, e.g.

iPad @ work
iPad @ work Volume 2

These e-Books give an overview how iPad features and apps allow you to streamline common daily business tasks.

That’s the theory.
Lets take a look at the reality.

Consider the following scenario …

You have to provide an iWork-Document (created with Apple’s iWork-Apps Numbers, Keynote or Pages) on different cloud storages (with recommended complex passwords), e.g. two Numbers-documents containing data worth being protected.

As a normal user with basic knowledge there are some questions which have to be answered:

  • What is a secure way to transfer data?
  • Which cloud provider guarantees a secure storage?
  • Do I need additional apps to work efficiently?
  • Are the additional apps stable?
  • Is there a fast and understandable support if errors occur?
  • Which apps should I buy to improve the usage of the device?

Generally you have 3 features which allow you to move documents:

  • Send by E-Mail
  • Open in another app
  • Save to WebDAV

Using ‘Send by E-Mail’ …

Apple’s NUMBERS does not support sending more than one document to a recipient.

Apple’s Mail does not support access to iWork-Documents to send them as attachments. Only photos and videos can be inserted.

Apple’s Mail does not support E-Mail distribution lists.

So for easy distribution of documents via E-Mail you will need an additional app.
But is it possible to use the ‘Open in another app’-Feature of iWork to provide the helper app with the required documents?
Does the app support IMAP-Accounts? If it does you have one more E-Mail-Client installed on your device.
If it does not, you will not see what you sent in your other E-Mail-Client.

Using ‘Save to WebDAV’ …

iWork supports only one connection to a WebDAV-Server. Changing the server from time to time requires the knowledge of the address and the password which might be complex so that you have to look it up in your Password-App.

(The app ‘Documents To Go’ from DataViz, Inc. allows access to 4 preconfigured servers.)

Summary …

There are many features not supported by iOS or standard apps of Apple.
So it will take a long time until you have found out the right apps for your specific requirements.
You will need additional time to find out which app fits best to to do your work.

So
Bridge the gulf, Apple
and take frequently used workflows into account when updating iOS and the iWork-Suite. There are still to many stumbling stones.

And …

Is it an advantage to offer more than 600.000 apps? No it is not, except I have the option to first look within a limited time whether an app meets my requirements or not.

The security of iOS, the iOS-Filesystem and the usability of the File-Management
are not well-balanced so far.





May iPad kick off PC?

19 10 2012

Sales of PCs are decreasing, while tablets are gaining popularity.
Is Apple’s iPad a kinslayer? Definitely not … now.

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Here are the reasons:

  • If you need special software (customised for your job) you will not find it in Apple’s App Store.
  • If you work with documents which are linked to each other (e.g. a table within a text document) it will not be supported by Apple’s iOS-Filesystem.
  • If you visit the site iPad in Business one might get the impression as if the work could be done with these little apps. But look at the details e.g. in Apple’s spreadsheet app ‘Numbers‘: It is not possible to protect cells with formulas and the XLS-Export is in no way compatible with Microsoft Excel! You can find deficits in nearly every app. These are the disadvantages of a very recent and thus not fully developed technology.
  • Are you an attentive user with a high quality short-term memory buffer? If not, you will have problems when working with several cloud-storages and different apps to manage downloaded files. Every time, you use the ‘Open in…’ – Command, your file will be transferred into an app-specific data-directory. Files are expected to be redundant. Where is the latest version?
  • The onscreen keyboard reduces the outline of complex documents. An external keyboard may solve the problem when editing the document. But then iPad comes closer to its remote relative.
  • There are no interfaces except the USB-Connector for charging and connecting to iTunes
  • You cannot do all your work with a small machine as your eyes and fingers won’t shrink. Believe me, there is no built-in gesture which solves the problem.
  • There is no SEARCH-Functionality in iOS which takes all data-directories into account.
  • What else? Please comment on this blog.

And here are the benefits of Apple’s iPad:

  • The awesome resolution of the Retina-Display compensates much bigger screen sizes. So the 9.7″ display is no disadvantage as long as you need not use is for longer than 2 or 3 hours. Then have a break and call your wife, your children, your girlfriend or whomever with your iPhone.
  • Easily connect to cloud-storages where ever you are and whenever you want without heavy machinery.
  • Receive mails and feeds, read the newspaper or buy something online.
  • Check documents created by your employees or colleagues via Cloud- or VPN-Connections. Make comments and send them back.
  • Help customers or colleagues using Online-Support-Tools like Team Viewer.
  • Syncing of managed data of Apple’s preinstalled apps (Contacts, Calender, Reminders, Photos, Safari-Bookmarks, …), iWork-Documents and other data.

Summary

With Apple’s iPad you should …
control, look, learn, read, surf, blog, cultivate your social contacts and show SAMSUNG users how awesome your device is.








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