For years, iOS users have wanted a proper way to save, open, and store files on their devices. While Apple has given us a partial solution with “Open In…” sheets, the folks at SonicoMobile have taken it upon themselves to go a step further. Today, they have launched a new app called Files that aims to be the missing “Finder for iOS.”
Of course, we’ve seen similar apps before. What is it that makes Files different from the rest? Keep reading to find out.
For the most part, Files works just like your home screen, and looks strikingly similar to Pages for iOS. You’ve got a grid of icons and folders, you can tap and hold to move them around, and you can drag items on top of each other to create groups.
Aside from the grid, there is a list view that looks a lot like the one found in iBooks for those who prefer less flashy interfaces. Like in the iWork apps for iOS, you can tap on the name of a file or folder to rename it. A search bar at the top of every screen lets you track down any file you’re looking for quickly.
While the photo viewer doesn’t look much like the Photos app, the built-in audio player looks a lot like the Music app.
Wide range of compatibility
Files is compatible with a wide selection of filetypes. In fact, according to the app’s help document, it can open and view thirty-five different types of documents, photos, audio, and more. It can also open twenty different source code filetypes and supports syntax highlighting in all of them.
The supported files include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, all iWork files, and a lot more. It can also open and create zip files.
Import from almost anywhere
I’ve got a lot of files scattered across my various cloud services. With Files, I can login to my Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box accounts to access all of the files on those services. Rather than shove all of the files from each service into the main grid, Files lets you add any specific files you want. All you have to do is hit the “add” button in the main view, select the service you want to import from, and then choose the files you want. The files are then downloaded locally to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad for offline access.
Aside from these three services, you can get files from an email by using the “Open In…” option and selecting Files. You can also import photos from your device’s library, or you can paste in a download link and have the file downloaded and saved to your device automatically.
No matter how you import your files, you can get them to your computer in a few different ways. The tried-and-true method of plugging your device into iTunes and using the app file management tools there to get any of the stuff stored on your iOS device works well, but if you don’t happen to have a USB cable handy, there’s another way.
While many apps boast a wireless method of transferring files to your mobile devices, they almost always require an FTP client or going through the not-so-fantastic wireless file management tools built into the Finder. Not so with Files.
Files features a browser-based interface that looks just like the app. There are a few differences in how the interface works (you can’t drag and drop to create a folder, for example), but you have complete access to all of the files on your device. You can also drag-and-drop items from your computer into the browser window to upload them to your iDevice.
If you aren’t near a computer at all, you can upload any item from your Files library to any of the cloud services you’ve setup. You can also share any of your items via email. These options provide you with enough flexibility to never have to actually be near your computer while still being able to get your files back to it (or to anyone else’s computer, if you’re working with a group).
When it comes to mobile file management, there seems to be one critical flaw that most apps suffer from: they upload your files to a remote server to sync them between devices. With Files, that problem simply does not exist. Everything is stored locally on the device. Of course, this does mean that your files aren’t kept in sync between your iPad and iPhone, but in my personal opinion, the security gained from not handing over your data is worth it.
Files also has support for a four-digit PIN code that has to be entered when you open the app. That, combined with the fact that your files never go to the cloud, helps ensure that no prying eyes get ahold of your data.
File management apps for iOS have been done time and time again. Many of them are decent. Files is excellent. This should come as no surprise. SonicoMobile has proven before that they can build great apps to solve a problem that no one else seems to have gotten exactly right.
If you need to store something on your phone, download a file from the web, or pull down one of your cloud files for offline access, Files is the app for you. With a simple interface, a myriad of supported filetypes, quick access to your cloud-based storage, and easy iOS-to-Mac/PC file transfers, I simply cannot recommend this app enough.
Files is available now on the iOS App Store for a special introductory price of only $.99. It has been optimized for the iPhone 5, Retina iPad, and iPad mini. In fact, the developers took special care to make sure that the app runs smoothly on devices ranging all the way back to the original iPad.