Documents replaces ReaddleDocs

20 01 2013

An updated version of ReaddleDocs now called Documents was released on Jan 16 for iPad.
For iPhone there is no updated version available at the time.
I checked ReaddleDocs in October 2012 and published the results on my page Documents. Its always interesting to see if an app update is a step forward or only a modification of the UI.

Main features of Documents by Readdle …

The app is a helper app for managing files with access to many well-known cloud providers and the ability to configure WebDAV connections to providers which are not pre-configured. Pre-configured clouds are:

Dropbox, SugarSync, Box, GoogleDrive, Office 365 Sharepoint, SkyDrive, MyDisk, filesanywhere, Storegate, and CloudMe
Others like iDriveSync (my recommended Cloud Storage) have to be configured using a WebDAV connection.

Note
A WebDAV connection is a connection to a cloud storage using the WebDAV protocol. To establish a connection you need to know the WebDAV address (ask your cloud provider) your username and your password.
More about WebDAV … iNotes4You: WebDAV Basics

A browser with download capabilities is integrated.

Supported file formats are
.pages, .keynote, .numbers, .doc/.docx, .xls/.xlsx, .ppt/.pptx; .odp, .ods, .odt; .rtf, rtfd, .txt; .html, .htm, .webarchive. .txt .pdf. .bmp, .gif, .ico, .jpeg, .png, .tiff, .xbm. .3gp, .l16, .m3u, .m4v, .mm, .mov, .mp4, .scm. .aac, .aif, .aifc, .aiff, .amr, .au, .I16, .m3u, .m4a, .m4b, .m4p, .mp3, . pcm, .wav.

The version from Jan 16 had massive problems to manage .numbers documents showing this error (often but not always):

20130119-140744.jpg

Direct competitors regarding file management are
GoodReader, FileBrowser, USB Disk Pro and others

The app is available here

Apple App Store: Documents by Readdle

Differences between both versions …

The new version does not support the configuration of E-Mail accounts.
What’s still available is to select a couple of files and send them as E-Mail using Apple’s Mail app.

Both versions support direct connection between iOS devices connected to the same WiFi network. That means you directly can access the apps document folder of another device and send files without using a cloud service, iTunes File Sharing, E-Mail or http-access via a computers browser. Other iOS devices are automatically listed in the Network section under ‘Available Devices’. The benefit is, that you can immediately exchange documents between devices running on different Apple IDs where a common iCloud access is not possible.

Bluetooth connections are not supported.

The UI …
That’s the first impression you have after installing an update.
The positive or negative impression is what remains in your memory for a long time. A negative first impression can only be replaced by highly powerful and error-free features.
As I reported before the UI of ReaddleDocs is nearly perfect and I see a minor improvement in the new version with its ‘Recent’ network connections and accessed documents.

This is a comparison of the UIs (new version in the foreground).

20130118-172036.jpg

The new UI is a bit more plain than in the older version.
The last three recently used Network Connections are listed for fast access.

What I expect and what I am looking for …

  • Apple published the ‘iOS Human Interface Guidelines’.
    They have to be adequately taken into account by developers.
  • Users of an iOS-App expect
    quiet colors, plain design, acceptable size of controls and easy to use functionalities.
    Configuration options should be reduced to the needs of 80% of the users.
  • Controls have to be arranged in a single toolbar at the top or the bottom of the screen.
    Controls with images instead of text must be self explaining.
  • The first look is important and has to invite users to tap, explore and work with the app.
  • For apps managing files, the following requirements are mandatory:
    Access to all well-known servers
    Support for WebDAV, FTP, AFP, SMB
    Filetransfer from server to server, device to device and device to external storage
    Support of file transfer to network attached storages like USB at Apple router
    Support for common file-formats like PDF, iWork-Formats, Microsoft Office-Formats
    Syncing of selectable storages
  • No app provides all functionalities which users need when working intensely.
    Because of the restrictive iOS-Filesystem they have to be supported by other apps.
    So the ‘Open in…’ (another app) is a MUST.
    To avoid redundancy of files when using the ‘Open in…’ – Command it would be a great idea, if an app logs where the files are flown. But this is a feature I did not see anywhere.

    For those who are not experienced in the filesystem of iOS devices see my post iNotes4You: ‘Every app is an ‘iLand’

Summary …

This update was claimed to be a great step forward.
I cannot agree with this especially because of incompatibilities with iWork file formats.
There is still no support for SMB protocol that means, you cannot access a USB storage or a hard drive connected to your Apple Airport Express, Extreme or Time Capsule.
There is no access to the camera roll and the photo stream. That’s really poor particularly if you use the camera for scanning documents.

What makes me musing is the fact that Documents replaced the paid version of ReaddleDocs on the iPad. Documents is a free version. Up to now I have never seen that a paid version ever was replaced by a free version. Is there a Documents PRO in the pipeline for which you have to pay again?

From my personal point of view these disadvantages are criteria for exclusion.

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