Dec 10, 2010 — by: Karl Johnson
Categories: Predictions, Products

The biggest weakness of the iOS platform right now is the lack of a user accessible file structure. Without a file structure or Finder app, iOS devices can not be a complete mobile platform. Right now, Apple tells us that files should be stored in applications on the iOS. This may be fine in the short term, but over time Apple's current file strategy will turn into frustration as users try in vain to access all their files.  There needs to be a place to store, edit, and transfer those files from application to application. Organizing files into folders is a must on any computer platform. Without a directory structure, all those files will turn into a mess. Even Google's Gmail, which was supposed to be all about search, now has folders. So, we all must hope that the current app file storage is only a stop gap until Apple comes up with AirFinder for the iOS. This new AirFinder must be designed specially for today's mobile user. You don't just create, edit, and store your files on a single iOS device anymore. The files need to move with you as you go from device to device. This new Finder needs to sync between all of you computer platforms seamlessly, in the background. AirFinder will allow you to access these files at anytime and anyplace.

The strongest crop of productivity applications in the App Store right now have either added Dropbox or are planning to add it. Why is Dropbox so popular on iOS? It allows seamless transfers between your iOS devices and any other computer or device you have from Macs to PCs. This is exactly what a mobile user is looking for. With Dropbox, you don't need to sync your iPad or iPhone with iTunes to get your latest files. All your latest files will be accessible via the Dropbox cloud service. This turns the iPad into a major productivity device saving tons of valuable time. It is not only good for productivity, but also for application preference syncing as well.  I use 1Password by Agile Web Solution for password and private data storage. Dropbox allows me to sync that data between all my devices in the background. I no longer have to manually sync my valuable data between devices or even remember which device has the latest files. The list of uses for Dropbox can go on and on. Since Dropbox is not part of the OS, it does come with many disadvantages. One of those being, you have to add it your apps to use it.

 Apple knows about Dropbox, and their success on the iOS. Yet, they are not supporting Dropbox. iWork for the iPad was recently updated for iOS 4.2. It has been updated to support syncing files to a Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) server. This is a nice upgrade, but WebDAV does not seamlessly sync your files between devices in the background. WebDAV is more like iDisk than Dropbox. Those productivity applications that add WebDAV support also add Dropbox support, since Dropbox does not support WebDAV. Why did Apple support WebDAV, but not Dropbox? Apple does not want to add to Dropbox's success on their platform, because Apple intends on adding Dropbox like features to the iOS.  With Apple's new data center in North Carolina, they could create AirFinder that syncs with MobileMe and any Apple product.

When the iPhone first came out, Apple told us the Web Applications are the future of Apps in the iOS. This was only a stop gap until they released the iPhone SDK and created the App Store. Now Apple is telling us that files should be stored in the applications. Once released, AirFinder will be uniquely designed for the iOS and its set of requirements. This new AirFinder will bring real cloud syncing to the Apple family of products.




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  1. Michael ~ Dec. 10, 2010 @ 9:20 am

    "WebDAV is more like iDisk than DropBox" Well, duh, iDisk is Apple's answer to DropBox. While I agree that iOS devices need some basic file system and all the present work arounds are a royal PITA, the argument that Apple should adopt some third party solution rather than creating it in-house (with better support for iDisk) just makes no sense. #
  2. Paul ~ Dec. 11, 2010 @ 4:11 am

    Users do not need to access the file structure. Have you ever accessed the file structure on a TV? a telephone? a radio? This is a retrograde way to think. #
  3. gariba ~ Mar. 2, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

    "The biggest weakness of the iOS platform right now is the lack of a user accessible file structure" WRONG! This is its most important and strong feature, soon to be implemented in OS X, killing the Finder.... #

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