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Opinion: Why a visible filesystem in iOS is key if the iPad Pro is to be a true PC replacement


Apple has been talking about the post-PC era ever since the original iPad launch in 2010, with Steve Jobs suggesting that PCs would be the ‘trucks’ of the computing world while most people would be happy with ‘cars’ aka iPads.

Tim Cook picked up the post-PC baton the following year, and has more recently presented himself as proof of the idea and argued the point more aggressively following the launch of the iPad Pro.

I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one? Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.

It’s a stance I agree with … to some extent …

I’ve noted on several occasions that when non-tech friends ask for my advice on which laptop to buy, it’s not unusual for me to ask them what they want to do with it then end up recommending an iPad with keyboard. If all you want to do is email, web, video call and chat, an iPad is a perfectly capable device that offers a lot of advantages over a laptop.

An iPad is even easier to use than a Mac, is ultra-portable, offers a genuine 10-hour battery-life, provides the option of built-in mobile data – and the flexibility of switching between laptop mode with a keyboard and tablet mode without.

I’ve also argued that the old idea that iPads are for content consumption while Macs are for creation is outdated. A lot of us use iPads to create content. But that’s not the same as viewing it as a laptop replacement.


Cook wasn’t claiming that an iPad – Pro or not – can replace a laptop for everyone, and he even stopped short of using the words ‘most people.’ My own conclusion when I tried the iPad Pro was that it does push further into laptop territory than other iPads, but it’s still not a complete substitute.

Powerful as the iPad Pro is, there are still a number of tasks that need the additional power offered by a Mac. Video, audio and photo editing are obvious examples: you can do them on an iPad, but it would be a poor choice of primary device. Software developers, too, need Macs.

But even if you need neither the power nor the specialist apps of a Mac, there’s still one area where I think the iPad falls down when comparing it to a Mac: the lack of a user-accessible file-system.


Steve Jobs, of course, argued that a file-system was an outdated concept. Why should a user have to either know or care where their files were stored? They simply open the app and do whatever it is they need to do.

That works fine for simple tasks, but not for complex ones involving multiple apps. If you’re remodelling your home, for example, you’ll probably have photos that you’ve collected as inspiration. Web pages with products and ideas. Contractor quotes supplied in every file format imaginable. Costing spreadsheets. You may have created sketches in one app and floor plans in another. The various documents are likely to span at least half a dozen different apps, perhaps many more.

If you don’t have access to a file-system, this creates two problems. First, the pain of having to figure out which app contains the document you’re looking for. Did that quote from the electrician arrive as a Word document or a PDF? Did you save that cool idea for understair lighting as a photo or a webpage? Having to open up multiple apps in search of the one thing you need is very far removed indeed from a system that Just Works.

But there’s also the notion of the project being organized on our device the same way we think of it in our head. If you are tackling the project one room at a time, you may have a top-level folder called Home Remodelling and second-level folders for each room: Living-room, Kitchen, Bathroom and so on.

Alternatively, if you are approaching the project in several phases, your second-level folders might be Phase 1 Teardown, Phase 2 Construction, Phase 3 Decoration and so on. The ‘physical’ map of the project on your device should mirror your mental model of the project – and that requires a visible file-system.


I do completely understand that iOS was designed around the KISS principle. If a user doesn’t need to see something, keep it hidden. For a great many things I do on my iPhone and iPad, that approach is perfect.

When I open up the Photos app to show to a friend that photo I took yesterday, I don’t need to know where on my device that photo is stored: I can just open the app and tap on the photo. If it was a while ago, the tags created by the app mostly do the job.

But it’s less easy to find that photo I took in Hong Kong ten years ago. And I’m not going to use an iPad for any kind of project – even one as simple as planning a vacation – and a large part of the reason is the lack of a visible file-system. If Apple really wants to present the iPad as a true alternative to a PC, it needs to finally allow iOS to have one.

That needn’t mean making the existing iOS UI any more complex than it is today. I don’t need access to a System folder or Library folder. I don’t need folders to be front-and-center on the homescreen. I’d be completely fine with Apple tucking a visible folder structure away inside an iOS Finder app. But, in my view, an iPad isn’t ever going to replace a Mac without it.

Do you agree? Or are you happy to tackle even complex projects without a visible file-system? Please take our poll, and share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Photos: The Verge; Apple; WSJ.

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  1. Josh (@533mhz) - 7 years ago

    Some sort of file system would help immensely to the “pro” aspect of the iPad Pro. Those who don’t need it, simply won’t use it. Like it or not people are using tablets a lot more, and they will never be fully adopted as a laptop replacement until some desktop class apps are available. The challenge is making them user friendly on a predominantly touch-based interface.
    I hope soon that Apple can get this done, though lately I feel they’ve been lagging behind in software, an area they need to focus more on IMO.

    • Štěpán Pazderka - 7 years ago

      It’s not that simple actually. The way ” Those who don’t need it, simply won’t use it” is the way Android was taken and look at it today. Most phones comes with anti-virus software simply because of the fact, that majority of average users do make mistakes about things they don’t understand… like changing files in their file-system by accident or stupidity.

      • triankar - 7 years ago

        Android comes with Antivirus software because Google applied a much more loose approval policy in its apps and pretty much everyone can (could) submit their bug + backdoor-ridden software no problems.

        Their approach is sometimes tedious (like when you get tons of notifications for each app update that’s occurred), but they’re on the right track.

      • rnc - 7 years ago

        No, most phones come with AV’s, because AV companies pay OEM’s to put their AV product on their phones.

  2. dcj001 - 7 years ago

    iPad file system – dropbox.

    • chris9771 - 7 years ago

      Yah I agree, Or perhaps icloud or google docs as options for organizing files.

  3. Rio (@Crzy_rio) - 7 years ago

    I think having one place where you can put everything is sufficient. i.e Something like the iCloud folder with no cloud sync

  4. nick (@nicksitruc) - 7 years ago

    People say this, but have no idea why they want it. The idea of every app owning the files it creates and needs is actually what makes the iPad such a joy to use. It is simple.

    • rnc - 7 years ago


      Also, the main problem with PC’s and Virus, is that EVERY App has access to ALL Files.

      On iOS, it’s limited (you can give access to files from other Apps), but it’s limited to it’s own files (or files you give to it).

    • Kira Kinski - 7 years ago

      Quite the contrary, I know exactly why certain features appeal to me and how they are leveraged for greater productivity.

    • Štěpán Pazderka - 7 years ago

      Absolutely agree! Absence of file-system is what makes iPhone work everyday for last 7 years without ever need to reinstall it clean.

    • tomi2711 - 7 years ago

      Yes. Except when you need to handle the same file with multiple apps. Then the concept comes down to pieces. As every app “owns” a file, if you want to open that file with another app, it copies the whole file. And you end up having two files that look are the same, and occupy double the storage.
      This might work with images, or word documents, because nobody would care for the storage lost. But when you handle large files, it takes time to duplicate a file, and the storage impact makes a difference. For “Pro”, or even “Power users” this is a dealbreaker.

      • rnc - 7 years ago

        Document Pickers since iOS 8 solve that very problem.

  5. Theo Vassiliou - 7 years ago

    One of the current solution is to use a “meta app” like Evernote. Collecting different content in one place and spawn the handling app from there. But at the same time lifting the functionality into a new dimension.

    I personally think there is a trained relationship between the way we would structure something mentally and the use of a file system.

    As an extreme I would dare to say: Because I know the file system, I can fit every problem into a file system. And because I can fit every problem into a file system, this is the only one I need to know.

    Of course you need something to store something somewhere, but I doubt that the file system is best one. But it is the one that is best supported on computers.

  6. Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

    Good logical argument, Ben.

    It seems like they could change the iCloud Drive app to just Drive, and have iCloud and Local as top level folders in that app.

    • nachoo (@nachoo) - 7 years ago

      Why would the user have to worry on deciding what is local and what to put in iCloud? iCloud Drive is fine as it is, and all the filesystem the iPad needs (iCloud Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, let the user decide…)

      • shareef777 - 7 years ago

        The base 5G isn’t enough, and paying a monthly fee to access your filesystem is ridiculous.

      • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

        Back when Apple had 20 GB at $0.99 I thought they should make it free and get rid of the 5GB limit, now they should make the 50 GB free and do unlimited photo storage like Google.

        I think iCloud Drive is fine the way it is and is as much as a built in file system you need. I should be turned on by default. Instead Apple has useless apps like Tips and Game Center.on the Home Screen. Drive should not be buried in iCloud settings and shot;d be front and center on the Home Screen.

  7. José F. - 7 years ago

    I mostly agree with Cook, if I’m going to buy a computer for personal use I don’t see any reason to buy a Laptop when an iPad can do the job just fine (or even better in some cases)

    With the iPad Pro the thing is different… I agree that it will be cool if Apple added a Finder like app, it even could be optional to show on the screen as the iCloud app but the house remodelation example could be easily taken down by saying “We have this gazillions apps on the AppStore, you should be able to find a Project Manager App” like Evernote or something like that.

    I think that Apple should give the “Pro developers” more tools to work with the iPad Pro. I recall one developer saying that the main issue was the incapability to offer free trials?

    • richelieu54 - 7 years ago

      Exactly. First thought I had when I read the home remodelling example was “there’s got to be an app for that”

      I would say that apps and the app ecosystem is the new file system and instead of folders you have apps and your projects live in them.

  8. AbsarokaSheriff - 7 years ago

    Yes a file system is needed but not necessarily the port of the Mac File Browser. One that is integrated with the touch capabilities and Force Touch.

    The sandbox principle is great but as you said, sometimes files need to be shared amongst applications.

    Whether it’s through cloning or linking, this would help replace the laptop/desktop. Locking of files and changes would need to be considered and that is a tricky part.

  9. ikimclint - 7 years ago

    To me, iCloud Drive is the file system as I moved all my personal files on it.

  10. Jonny - 7 years ago

    Always an interesting argument. I always assume it’s less that the iPad *needs* a filesystem to replace a laptop than it is that *Person X* needs the iPad to have a filesystem to replace a laptop. Good write-up though, it’s a neat topic to discuss.

    “If you’re remodelling your home, for example, you’ll probably have photos that you’ve collected as inspiration. Web pages with products and ideas. Contractor quotes supplied in every file format imaginable. Costing spreadsheets. You may have created sketches in one app and floor plans in another.” You could flip this same line of thinking around on the file system… that quote he gave me from was for painting the living room but did I file it under the Quotes folder or the Living Room folder? That colour I picked for the dining room and the office.. did I file the colour number under Dining Room, Office, or Paint folder? … depending on how the user organizes their thoughts, they could just as easily have problems with the file system that someone would have with remembering which app the file is in.

    This is why I revert back to it not being a question about whether or not the iPad can replace a laptop, generally, to whether or not the iPad should replace a laptop for each individual considering their options. I like that the two (iPads and Laptops) will appeal to different people and not try to be everything to everyone. At this point, the differences between a Macbook or an iPad Pro is really just how you choose to work (in some cases, filesystem vs no filesystem). They’re about the same price, about the same power, and about the same portability.

    • Yup. the “which folder should I save to” is precisely why I suggested the tagging functionality. But agree.

      • Jonny - 7 years ago

        Yeah tagging is another solution (for some people) so you can have the same file “exist” in multiple places. Same complexity as having folders or app silos though, just a different way to slice it. That.. and, for me at least, trying to remember which tags I’ve used and not have be a clusterf! after a few months of use.

  11. Steffen Baensch - 7 years ago

    So your solution of the problem is to go back to the old chaos? Steve was god damn right about this.
    The iCloud drive already is a step back. It’s really ‘just a hard drive in the sky’.
    Someday a genius will solve the well known problems you mentioned above without the problems of a classic file system.

  12. If you want it to be a PC replacement, you still have to have a mouse or a trackpad. The Citrix X1 mouse for remote desktop is great, but only works with their Citrix apps.

    Had Apple offered native Bluetooth mouse support, I would’ve been using my iPad to RDP and VNC into everything.

    In fact, I believe it would’ve moved enterprises much faster into a virtual computing environment. No more needing to buy and maintain pricey business laptops at $2K+, each with a Windows and Office license and installation, antivirus and antimalware, etc. Everyone in the office would’ve gotten an iPad with a keyboard and mouse that can remote into a virtual desktop hosted at the office, which IT can quickly and easily handle upgrades and rollouts. Devices and access would be more secured and monitored better.

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      What if the bottom bezel functioned like the Siri remote for Apple TV? You could scroll and click with that area and navigate an ARM OS X.

  13. Nolan-News - 7 years ago

    I hope one day there will be development tools for the iPad. It’d be an incredibly powerful device if you were able to develop and test applications for the iPhone or iPad on it. And as of right now, that isn’t a possibility without a file management system.

  14. Andrew Springer - 7 years ago

    I realize that this is a very specific case, but in the example used in the article, there are several apps, for example Evernote, which can accommodate and organize all of the various files and documents you need, arguably better than you could with a filesystem. I still think it would be nice to have access to the iPad’s file system, but I don’t think it’s necessary for anyone but very specific groups.

  15. - 7 years ago

    If Apple added nested folders ito Notes your problems would be solved, with no added complexity.

  16. kpom1 - 7 years ago

    Better iCloud Drive support would help. Right now, not many programs can access it natively. That’s on developers to a large extent. Microsoft, for instance, will let you use its own cloud service (OneDrive), Dropbox, or Box, but its interface with iCloud Drive is clunky.

    • Alec Gold - 7 years ago

      Not just better iCloud Drive support, a better iCloud Drive app would make it a lot more useful. List views, easy moving several files, moving files from one app folder to another? Now I need to email it to myself so I can store it in the right folder?! How odd and absolute not “just working”?! Not to speak of my LTE cap of 10Gb per month :(

      I really do love my iPad and my MacBook Pro hardly sees any use expect the more heavy stuff (1,5Gb 500 pages PDF being OCR/optimized, I’m sure the iPad pro could do it, but I haven’t found the right app yet).

  17. I’d be open to the tagging concept. I don’t need to know where everything is as long as I can find it. If I can tag all the things I want with #HomeRemodel and #MasterBedroom then I just need a way to filter tags. I filter for #HomeRemodel and I see everything there, plus can “subfilter” for #MasterBedroom, or #PaintSwatches This may actually be better than a file system, because then I can see all the paint swatches together in one place without having to decide whether to have a folder for paint, or keep those swatches in each separate folder.

  18. rymc02 - 7 years ago

    Expanding spotlight to third party apps could go a long way to make it easier to find files across multiple apps.

    • rnc - 7 years ago

      They already did that.

      • rymc02 - 7 years ago

        Have any apps actually incorporated it? Dropbox definitely hasn’t, neither have a bunch of other apps I use

  19. chrisl84 - 7 years ago

    I’d rather be able to run two Safari windows at the same time first….

  20. chrislaarmansite - 7 years ago

    Four years ago I would have voted “Yes”. Now I have voted “Nice to have”. The difference is in my use of the cloud, combined with increasing mastering of apps that have put the growing possibilities of iOS to use, like Documents 5.
    But being a wannabe power-user, I’d rather have OS X on a future iPad than iOS.

    On the other hand, one can be very productive even on an iPad without the background assistance of a Mac. It just depends on the ways in which you happen to be productive. Metaphorically speaking, my mother would have been very happy using an iPad Pro as her only computer. My father would have been torn between Android (with its accessible file system) and iOS (with its offer of apps), but he would likely have spent even more time than me reading RSS-feeds and storing “everything and the user guide of the kitchen sink” in Evernote – and thus not needing that file system access after all.

    However, I see these two properties of tablets as advantages over even ultrabooks: the ease of orientation (I have tried using a netbook in portrait orientation!) and the absence of controls (keyboard included) unless they are needed.
    The file system is in distant second place, computing power in distant third. I’d put connectors in some fourth place: I hardly use my various accessories.

    (Among my devices are an iPad Pro, a Pixel C and a Surface Pro 3, but I entered this text on the screen keyboard if my default device, an iPad Air 2.)

  21. neitoalexander - 7 years ago

    Incorrect. A file system is a response to a complicated and or convoluted system in general. You use it to find things you have “lost”. On iOS at LEAST 80% of the organization is done by the user…….and that last 20%…….spotlight can handle granted you have it set up properly. If anything spotlight needs to be given a few extra permissions that do not interfere with security.

    A “file organizer” “system” whatever you want to call it is a feature found on most Android systems…….most of which require such a thing because of the broken design that the system utilizes. I cannot tell you the times I’ve picked up an android and either thought “what was it I was just doing?” Or “where the f*** is X at?” Here……a file system is needed… designed by engineers require MORE systems designed by engineers to support themselves.

    iOS is designed by DESIGNERS…… which they’re DESIGNERS for a reason. iOS does not need a file organizer……there are far better contemporary solutions to not being able to find files. It’s all in the architecture of the system.

  22. puggsly - 7 years ago

    You think too small! To think you can organize a complex task with folders is a pipe dream. The true solution is meta data. Any document you save to iCloud also offers to have you give it a tag. So in your example, the real solution is to add a project tag to each of these files and then include a better way to list files by meta tags.

    I don’t organize my photos by folder anymore and in the future I will not use folders because they are too limiting.

    • triankar - 7 years ago

      Easy to recommend when all/most of the stuff you organise is photos (or just one/two kinds of “things”).

      If you have multi-type content to play with, tags can’t do the job. Especially when you have multiple projects sharing similar structures. It just becomes a nuisance applying multiple tags to each a file therein, where you could just move files to one folder.

      I do find meta-tags, however, as a very useful COMPLEMENTARY way to organise and find stuff, but AFTER they’ve been put all into folders.

  23. Štěpán Pazderka - 7 years ago

    No! OMG, NO! Never a file system on a mobile device. Please, never. It is exactly opposite of what post-pc era is about. Only file system should be cloud based, always available anywhere and never give a access to the file system on local device. Thats a true step back, one that would expose the system to viruses, user created problems etc. Never. Please, never.

  24. James Katt - 7 years ago

    Why not simply argue for a Mac Tablet with touch screen running OS X with both a complex computer and a simplified tablet user interface for apps? Turn the iPad and Mac laptops into the Surface Pro.

    After all, that is the logical conclusion.

    Once that is done, no one will have a complaint.

    Currently iOS apps have to have 5 different user interfaces to cover the different screen sizes of the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s+, iPad mini, iPad air, iPad Pro.

    Mac apps should do the same once a Mac Tablet is created – apps need to have a regular computer interface and a simplified tablet interface. This would be like Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Metro interfaces but ALL on the same app. Microsoft made the mistake initially of placing these two interfaces on separate apps.

    At the very least, ask for a touch screen for all Mac Laptops and a convertible format so you can fold the keyboard around and use it like tablet.

    So perhaps the Microsoft Refrigerator plus Toaster blend is the correct answer.

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      Apple should have put an ARM chip in the MacBook and gave it the great Display of the iPad Pro and gave OS X ARM support. The iPad Pro and MacBook should been one product.The iPad Pro has a better display and better processor for a much lower price. The MacBook should have been the first Apple product that came with ARM OS X.

  25. Vincent Conroy - 7 years ago

    I see where you’re coming from, and for the most part, I agree. But I DO think that the iCloud Drive (or Google Drive, or DropBox) helps solve that issue for MANY people. The inclusion of the iCloud Drive app on my iOS devices went a LONG way to making them viable substitutes for my Macbook, and even when working on my laptop, I’m always sure to save files to the iCloud Drive so that they can be viewed and edited from my iPhone or iPad.

    I know this isn’t a perfect solution, as it relies on a ubiquitous network connection which is not available to all users, but for someone like a project manager or other business professionals, those connections are generally there whether at work or at home.

    I think the bigger issue with pushing the iPad as a laptop replacement is that Apple doesn’t market it that way. Looking at the existing crop of commercials for iPad and iPad Pro, it’s aimed squarely at the “creative consumer.” The iPad Pro shows things like sketch artists using Apple Pencil to draw on it, or a child using its larger screen to study the solar system. What it DOESN’T show is somebody using the iPad Pro in the manner you describe above. And the standard iPad Air? That’s described as an entertainment consumption center. Music enthusiasts, Netflix bingers, and casual web surfers are all shown using the device for everything from research to online shopping, but it’s rarely shown as building a spreadsheet, word processing, or rendering video.

    Apple is probably nervous about building a device for everybody because the focus on the creative consumer has kept the iPad in very clearly-defined market. Unfortunately, with the mounting pressure from companies like Microsoft to build a tablet that can replace a laptop, that stance has to evolve.

    In the end, I think the stigma about a file system has a lot more to do with Apple’s philosophy and the lack of developer support for more advanced apps than one specific feature such as a file system.

  26. The fact that it is impossible to download files on iOS (or upload them in Safari, for that matter) rules out the possibility of me replacing my Mac with an iPad. I download music and videos from places other than iTunes and I can’t add them to the Music and Video apps without a mac. That’s a problem.

    • Štěpán Pazderka - 7 years ago

      You can, just use some professional app to do that, which keeps persistent connection to the server in the background. You do not have to look far. Average user doesn’t download many GB of data everyday through a browser though.

  27. Štěpán Pazderka - 7 years ago

    If iPad is about to replace PCs, it should never become a PC. iPad Pro is more sucesful than Surface because it is not trying to be PC. If Apple is going to give access to the file-system, Post-PC era is officially dead, and all the problems of PC, you can expect on iOS. Viruses, user-created troubles, loosing track of what files are where, unnecessarily huge backups, over-complicated indexing, problematic file cleaning, duplicate hunting.

    I know that majority of users want an access to the file-system, hopefully majority of people do not work at Apple, because majority of people doesn’t think outside of the box.


    • Alec Gold - 7 years ago

      How do you share files between apps then? So you PDF a keynote and want to annotate it in PDF-expert? or you have some 570.000 documents of the last 10 years and want to edit a word document? Except it is standing in the PDF expert folder? Etc….
      And isn’t the virus problem there, when I email the document to myself? At least in part it is there!

  28. hiksfiles - 7 years ago

    Honestly, I don’t NEED one … I just WANT one!

    I want to be able to hook the iPhone onto a computer and be able to transfer files of whatever format to/from the computer thus transforming my phone into a USB key.

    Make that file system invisible to iOS if you will, I don’t care. I just want to be able to use it as a USB key for those (I’ll admit, very rare) occasion where the use of internet isn’t possible.

  29. chasingcohen - 7 years ago

    iOS 9 introduced the ability to have an iCloud Drive app. Developers just need to start taking advantage of it! I do admit that there is plenty of room for improvement, but I think that is the start to a good file structure an iPad user needs.

  30. thetekman10 - 7 years ago

    There should be an option to turn in a “finder” app like there is to show iCloud Drive on the home screen. That way it’s easy for people to go into the file system if need be.

  31. Joe (@realofficialjoe) - 7 years ago

    iPads are nowhere near replacing my Mac. I need proper functionality not leisurely computing. Adding a file system to iOS just makes it one step closer to being a PC anyway so these devices are not replacing PC’s in my opinion, they are slowly BECOMING them.

    Sorry Mr Jobs but I no longer agree with your assessment that we are in a post-PC age. The PC has just changed form factor.

  32. alexandereiden - 7 years ago

    Yes, but iCloud Drive is available to view on your home screen via settings. That is a full file system

  33. geekz85 - 7 years ago

    i work with my ipad for years and i change my device every year. ipad pro is the best ipad by far yet. i can do almost everything with it, including working on my server. the only thing i really miss is the finder and a way to upload/download files. hopefully ios10 will change that on wwdc in summer. split view, picture-in-picture, apple pencil and 4gb offer more than a powerful pc-replacement.

  34. zaxxon72 - 7 years ago

    “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” – same goes for the filesystem. Because we don’t know better on the Mac, we are accustomed to style all our ideas according to a filesystem hierarchy.

    What happens when you have a picture that you need for two projects? Do you copy two files to each project’s folder?

    The answer is “system wide, nested tagging”. You could tag files, images, contacts, calendar items, emails. An item could belong to several contexts. And it wouldn’t matter where the item is stored or processed. The tags could be synced across the whole OS X and iOS universe.

    Come on, give us (better) tagging!

  35. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    iCloud Drive just needs to mature in the way apps can access it, e.g. I need to be able to send something there from Photos. I like the sandboxed “per app” style of filesystem far better than what a lot of people seem to clamor for which is an Android style list of endless tiny folders, it gives you that power while staying true to how iOS does things. Apple just needs to start dumping attention into it.

  36. bonaccij (@bonaccij) - 7 years ago

    I think a file system is sort of overkill. I did the very thing you are talking about in your column only using Evernote. For me, that was MUCH more efficient. You can create one simple folder in Evernote and then keep all of the documents you need to have right inside that folder. Doesn’t matter what they are, either. Everything is right there. Now, I realize I’m probably in the minority, but I have been living in the cloud for a long time. I really don’t see the need for a file system anymore. Though one exists on my computer, I am absolutely able to get to, open up, create, edit and produce anything I need/want on my iPad–which is the reason I went down the iPad Pro route. For me, it works.

  37. rahhbriley - 7 years ago

    I honestly think Tags will have a lot to do with the eventual solution. Tags and iCloud Drive. How they implement the UI and the ability to manage those tags will be key. If you’ve ever seen an Evernote poweruser’s tagging hierarchy? The future is tags not folders.

    • chrisl84 - 7 years ago

      Tags require users to be very diligent in the tagging process….miss a tag, and you are SOL

      • rahhbriley - 7 years ago

        I’m not trying to say it doesn’t require some diligence, but I will argue that there are some very easy methods to use to make sure losing track of items doesn’t happen. Powerful search including file contents, smart filtering for untagged, unprocessed, infrequently used items, etc.

      • Seika - 7 years ago

        Meanwhile automatic tagging, in many case, add too much unwanted junk tags that clutter the tag list. Why leave the computer decide on what you you want to do.

        Also for how long tagging exist, there’s still not many tools that offer complete control to filter, add, edit, delete tags, and to organize hierarchy and relationship between the tags for consumer. They might exist in big data companies’ system, but even the task of tagging pictures, renaming tags and quickly add/delete tags in multiple older files to adapt to your changing logic is a pain.

  38. I think that a folder within iCloud drive for each iOS device would be sufficient. From a Mac or PC or other iOS device with iCloud drive you could move files to and from the iPad. This drive folder would obviously then sync to the iPad. Within iPad itself you would be able to browse this location via apps or through an onboard iCloud drive application to be used as a file manager. The new iOS specific “drive” container could also be sandboxed and allow for approved file types and/or application connectors. I think this would be a secure way to solve many of the problems, increase security and bump up the “Pro” apsects of the iPad Pro or any iPad for the matter.

  39. triankar - 7 years ago

    I totally agree with the article. I’ve been posting about this many times in the past, here and elsewhere. We need to be able to structure our files 100% the way we want. Google Drive sets a very beautiful+functional example across all platforms, iCloud Drive quite the opposite. If we HAVE to have app-specific folders in iCloud Drive, let them be inside an ~/.Apps/ folder and not directly in ~/.

    Then the other part of the equation is apps accessing files within that filesystem. I want Pages, for example, to access files in my Google Drive without copying them across to their own little island first. That’s a total nuisance when you’re editing stuff on your iPad and that’s why I store in my iCloud Drive only those iWork files that I want to access on my iPad. Everything else lies in my GD, perfectly organised the way I want it.

    One way to go about this is by creating a “registry” of “filesystem-provider” apps, where Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud Drive and so on register their contents as “volumes” in the filesystem and other apps request access to those volumes.

    • Štěpán Pazderka - 7 years ago

      One way to go about this is by creating a “registry” of “filesystem-provider” apps => That’s exactly what iOS 8 introduced, but Google Drive doesnt support this API for some reason. OneDrive on the other hand does, so you can from Pages app import image from OneDrive directly without copying it.

  40. vidaleon - 7 years ago

    iPad will always be a companion device. You do your work and organize your files on a PC, then use your iPad to access, display, or temporarily manipulate your work on-the-go. It will never replace a PC fully.

  41. I totally agree that a file system is an essential step if Apple wants to move the iPad closer to a stand alone productivity device, but I am impressed with the latest version of spotlight to find files across apps. It would be wonderful if a third party developer could make something like launchbar or Alfred for iOS, which of course, Apple never allow. I would say on my Mac I use Alfred 70% of the time to find files and only dig down into the folders when I’m having trouble finding a file using search terms alone.

  42. Yes yes yes. Stripping all of this away made sense for a phone – it made the iPhone what it is. But for everything else, not having a filesystem feels like a mistake – a misinterpretation that a successful approach on the small screen means it’s the right thing to do on the big screen. Why is Apple avoiding a tried and true metaphor? Because it’s old? Because sales on the iPhone exceed those of the Mac? While we are still used to living in the physical world we will be used to dealing with objects. This means windows and this means files. Eventually working on your iPad may even be as good as working on your Mac… Well, maybe if they’d add mouse support ; )

  43. David Marks - 7 years ago

    Not only is a visible file system necessary, but so is the ability receive, store and send files that are not decipherable by any app currently on the iPad. Some projects use proprietary format files that are not acted on using the computer (or iPad) where the email to which they are attached is received. The files are then transfered to a computer that is not on the internet for use. An example is program files for industrial automation programmable controllers. These are not typically on the internet as they are used to control factory equipment. They are not on the internet for security reasons. Anybody remeber The Stuxnet virus that took out Iran’s centrifuges? The infected computers were programmable controllers.

  44. Liam Deckham - 7 years ago

    Look how popular GoodReader and Documents are!
    Yes, a file system for iOS is critical, and it must be local, not iCloud Drive. WiFi is not as readily available as AC power is, so we need to access content locally in many applications. Let the user, the user who pays Apple their premium price, have the flexibility to make their lives simpler as they see fit!

    • David Marks - 7 years ago

      Yes GoodReader is a solution, but still not optimal. We still cannot transfer files to a device not on a network. We need USB transfer. A file vault where all apps put their files would be great. One copy of each file. Then allow USB flash drive or SD card transfer. iPad will not be a laptop replacement in high security environments.

  45. Liam Deckham - 7 years ago

    Big thanks to Ben Lovejoy for bringing this major need to light in such an amazing article! Hopefully, Tim Cook is watching!

  46. It needs a hierarchical shared document repository, not a disk-based file system. If you’ve ever poked around the filesystem of an iOS device you’ll see it’s an unruly mess. No consumer should ever have to look at that or any pre-conceived folder structure that was created to run the operating system.

    There’s plenty of opportunity to create a high-level and obfuscated repository to the data that apps chose to store in a shared state however and I’ve been advocating this since 2008. Share sheets have greased the inter-app roadblocks somewhat, but there’s still a big learning curve associated with moving around between applications with the same data – in some cases it’s next to impossible however.

    Such a repository also needs to be serviceable by web browsers installed on iOS, including the default Safari, to allow easy downloading and uploading – this missing functionality alone takes any iOS device out of contention from replacing a desktop-OS device. I’ll go as far as saying that for 99% of consumers out there of working age, an iOS device is absolutely impossible to use as a replacement for a Mac/PC for all but a few very specific needs. If you’re on a job hunt and only have an iPad – you’re never going to get a new job – just try going through the process of applying ANYWHERE online to hit the wall of frustration.

  47. The use case of “finding that thing that Joe sent me” is much easier accomplished by spotlight “show me the file that Joe sent me” rather than implementing a hierarchical file system.

    That said, there’s certainly utility in being able to find things visually. But it doesn’t follow that you should have to manage their placement yourself. I could see a smart folder within contacts that has all files sent to you across all channels from that person. I could also see ProActive Siri saying, “you seem to be working on a bridge building project – I’ve put all relevant files together for you in the new Bridge Building folder on your desktop. I’m thinking something like a smart “my projects” area on the home screen.

    There are other ways to achieve “find the file” other than having you manage files manually.

  48. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    Make iCloud Drive turned on by default and add a Airdrop folder inside of it that functions like the downloads folder in OS X or make it Airdrop function in finder in OS X and in iCloud drive for OS as a folder.

  49. Mel Gross - 7 years ago

    I don’t think this is a simple yes or no question. Being able to find something, or somethings, isn’t exactly the same as showing a file system. We know that iOS does have a file system as all OSs need a file system. The question is what should the OS be showing us?

    I really don’t want what I’ve got in OS X. I really don’t need columns of folders upon folders. I’m happy to get away from all of that. But perhaps a central way of finding files, and pulling them to one place would be good.

    As far as Photos go, we can organize them any way we want to. Finding that 10 year old photo from Homg Kong isn’t much different from the way we would do it anywhere else, make an album (folder) for photos from HongKong and possibly make them dated as well.

  50. Sebastian - 7 years ago

    No it’s not, but we need somrthing a little bit closer to what Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive has to offer.

  51. Scott (@ScooterComputer) - 7 years ago

    I scanned down over the comments here, and I may have missed some others who said the same…so…but I’m just going to say what I came to say (sorry to anyone else’s comment I duplicate).

    First off, the premise of the question and the headline is fundamentally just wrong. iOS needs and HAS a “filesystem”. @benlovejoy, you’re making a terrible mistake conflating a technical term with a user experience term, using “filesystem” interchangeably for two different things. Why not start by educating users. Because, from many of the comments I read, there is SIGNIFICANT confusion about “file system”…and I absolutely blame Apple, Jobs, and Cook for that. Just don’t extend their PR stupidity. Every computer needs a “filesystem”, it is a fundamental component of data storage and management. Sly-naming the concept that YOU are calling a “visible filesystem” is not an improvement, merely an end-run.

    There are three effective levels of what we, technically, are discussing here:
    1. the filesystem as defined as the manner in which distinct bounded and independent bits of information stored on storage device are represented to the operating system
    2. the “visible filing system”, or “file system standard hierarchy” as defined in Unix (the heart of iOS) to be the manner in which files/directories stored are presented and organized for use by the standardized operating system (“standard” locations the OS can/should expect to find particular information: /System/, /Library/, /Users/, /Applications/, et al) and by the users (home, Documents, Applications, etc) with an overarching permissions model
    3. the “file manager” as defined as the mechanism employed by the OS or applications via API or applications to present file/directory information to the user

    Jobs and Cook were dabbling somewhere between 2 and 3, I think, the User Experience…in Apple’s case the Finder and File Manager API. Microsoft and Apple have also dabbled between 1 and 2 (think WinFS/Cairo that Microsoft was working on for Longhorn).

    What Apple –NEEDS– to do is quit with all the BS and develop a user-facing Content Management System. Both OS X and iOS should provide client-access whereby the user can “check-in” and “check-out” files. The CMS would store the data on the “filesystem” in some backwards-compatible manner that could be accessed from the command-line. iCloud should adopt this as well. Effectively, re-innovate the “interface” between the user and their files. The Finder was a first step, but both and Windows Explorer have perhaps exceeded their usefulness. By going to a pluggable CMS/DAM architecture, the Finder would be a client, just as would Photos, iTunes, etc. Including 3rd party apps. Permissions and storage location could be programmatically determined by the CMS (syncing content based on available storage, connectivity, time-sensitivity, etc). iCloud could “interoperate” with a Server version of this product running on OS X Server or Windows Server (or Unix/Linux/FreeNAS/Synology/et al). It would, at once, obviate the need for Google Docs, Dropbox, Software Update, and a whole bunch more. The clients could cache and display any “virtual” representation of the content the user decided; simple, advanced, “visual file system”, metadata-driven, whatever.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      The term ‘visible file-system’ seems to me to make it clear that I am talking about the UI.

  52. mpias3785 - 7 years ago

    It needs a user accessible file system AND reasonable I/O capabilities. If Apple can pull this off while keeping the device safe from malware, it will be a miracle.

  53. What about if Apple added an app called “Projects”. And at the top level it let you name projects. And perhaps give a project one of a few hundred pre-designed icons. Then, when you select the project, it lets you create a folder hierarchy inside in which to put files that are opened by different apps. Such as photos, weblinks, text files, csv/xls files, pages documents, etc. Then, within that project that could have view modes that let you group the files dynamically, say, show the files grouped by their type, or by the date they were last accessed, or by their tag. But no matter how you choose to view, the files would be limited to those contained within the project your looking at.

    The trick would then be to expose the projects and the various project view modes into the standard iCloud drive in-app panel. So, from safari, you could pop open your projects view and find the bookmarks you saved to that project. Alternatively, you could start from the “projects” app, and when you tap to open that pages document filed away in a project, it just switches you to Pages and opens the document.

    The entire “projects” system could be backended directly on the existing iCloud drive.

    I would LOVE this.

  54. Gene Grush - 7 years ago

    Yes, Yes, Yes. It also needs windows too so that you can drag, drop and switch apps quickly. I expect Apple to add these features and others over the next few years and for Apple to push their developers to move all their major Mac apps to the iPad Pro. This will allow Apple to start making desktop iPads and slowly migrate all users from the Macs to IOS. Why- with control of the CPU/GPU and software, Apple will deliver an even better laptop/desktop type computer at a performance/price point that will be hard for the PC community to compete with long term. This is probably a 5-10 year transition but I do believe that this is Apple’s vision.

  55. Emoco (@emoco) - 7 years ago

    Yes it does, but my guess is that this isn’t going to happen under Tim’s watch.

    How much do you think Tim actually does in terms of computing? As CEO, I’m guessing it’s pretty much reading emails, reviewing spreadsheets, and reports. All of which can be done with an iPad without a file system.

  56. dksmidtx - 7 years ago

    85% “Nice to Have” and above – the people have spoken…

  57. 2is1toomany - 7 years ago

    I think that the new iCloud Drive app introduced in iOS 9 has the potential to become the right substitute for the need for a file system manager. I don’t think it should be as robust as the finder in the sense that you can see and edit key system files but definitely have a centralized app that lets you manage your files and let you open it in any app. Also, a mobile preview tool for PDFs and other common file formats for quick views and edits would be nice too.

  58. Steve Waddell - 7 years ago

    Agree wholeheartedly. Not having its about as dumb an idea as when Apple made the stupid mistake of getting rid of the “save as” function.

  59. Not only the file manager. For office based jobs, I think it should gain a file manager, drag and drop, support for other inputs than touch to move elements, external monitors capability. Like the surface pro. I have an iPhone 6s Plus, and apple watch, an apple tv and i would be more to switch to ipad pro for my job to gain portability while preserving battery life. That would be awesome.

  60. stevesous - 7 years ago

    No Discussion! Of course, that’s the only way I can carry a tablet without a laptop on any trip.

  61. Mike Sullivan - 7 years ago

    I’ve found that the iCloud Drive has gone a long way to making an iPad Pro a very useful device for my work. I have all my work files from my Mac backed up to iCloud, so I can access all of these through the iCloud Drive and use the relevant app to view the files. The pro is particularly good for viewing drawings and per files for construction projects that I manage. I would like to have a preview option directly from ICloud Drive, but Documents and PDF Expert are good alternatives and you can store files on the iPad using file directories in those apps. PDF Expert can also be set up to access your Mac files on your wifi network.

    An option to sync your iCloud files directly onto your iPad using a Finder App would be pretty handy. That would give you a good backup option and file access when not on wifi, or accessing large files. The Finder App could have the “open in” feature for comparable apps. With that option, some larger storage options would be useful, particularly for using the iPad as a primary media server. For that, I would need over 500GB though.

  62. blakestack (@blakestack) - 7 years ago

    Yes. The same argument could be made for music, photos, videos, etc. I’ve used Apple products for 10+ years and I like iOS, but recently, I’ve decided that I want the freedom to use apps of my own choosing for my media. (I’m going against the trend of “streaming” everything.) If iOS had a simple file system, I could give various apps permission to access certain folders. I could also back those folders up on a local hard drive. As it stands now, the content and the app are so intertwined your forced to live in this eco-system, or that eco-system. Eco-systems are nice for novice users who can afford unlimited data / broadband, but they fail in some respects when aiming to meet the needs of folks who really want the full “pro” experience.

  63. SKR Imaging - 7 years ago

    Filesystem support and external storage through USB is a must for a “pro”device

  64. Louis Banks - 7 years ago

    While an apple official version would be nice, (since the iCloud Drive doesn’t directly address the issues in this article) I have to say that Documents 5 by Readdle has provided me with just that sufficient file management system needed to close the gap this article mentions. Since using that and a combination of cloud services and lightning USB accessories, the iPad has been a complete laptop replacement for my needs. I don’t think it will ever necessarily suffice for the tech industry’s needs. Still as a professional in music, I can do a lot on an iPad as a pro mobile device. It now seperates my workflow into the tasks that need to be done one a remote unit, or a desktop unit.

  65. krystofg - 7 years ago

    Apart from a missing file system, I would add two more features, whose non-existence is not only crippling capabilities of iOS devices but simply ruling them out from any SERIOUS usage outside of media consumption and couch surfing:
    1) SPOTLIGHT aka a device-wide search. It is super-annoying when i know that that pdf file is SOMEWHERE inside my device but yet I have absolutely no way how to find it.
    2) possibility to organise Photos. Why this gadget whose computing power is so huge is unable of such simple thing like creating a folder inside folder simply beats me.
    Apple, these are not features. These are BUGS!

    • David Butt - 7 years ago

      Subsequent to my last iOS update, I received a notification with the option to download and install an iCloud Drive App. This now resides on my home page, alongside the One Drive App. The iCloud App includes a search function. Might this address your Spotlight search need?

      Regarding point 2, could you create albums to meet your goal? Although a flat file system, would the effect be the same if you created albums named Amy’s Wedding Stag, Amy’s Wedding Stagette, Amy’s Wedding morning, Amy’s Wedding Church, Amy’s Wedding Reception, etc ?

      The challenge faced in creating a filing system, is that few folks understand how to create and manage a true hierarchical filing system. While the participants here all seem to have a good understanding, most folks just want, figuratively, to toss stuff in a pile and find it later. People do this with paper all the time; I’m sure you have seen desks of such folk! In large organizations when paper files were common, a good file clerk was worth their weight in gold. With a quality DMS, the file hierarchy is hidden, and search is the means to find just about everything (e.g. Sharepoint).

  66. Bria (@xxFoxtail_) - 7 years ago

    There was one instance where I needed a filesystem on my iPad. I had to use my dad’s laptop because of it. I had to submit a few photos to a local photo competition, but I needed to name the files a certain way. I’m sure there is a way to do it in one of my many photo retouching apps, but it was a lot faster and easier just to take them to the laptop and rename them there.

  67. opey2015opeydokey - 7 years ago

    Apple already built in support for a file system thru extensions. iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iStorage, etc all act as the file system. The way you can access all these file systems together from any app that needs to access a file and even move files between them is perfect. What more do you need? All the complaints in this article are irrelevant if you actually use your device in the way hat Apple intended.

    • krystofg - 7 years ago

      Give us some slack pls. First, the support you are mentioning is EVERYTHING BUT “perfect.” It only works between SOME apps, and it is absolutely inconsistent across different filetypes. Yes, maye in Applestan you can live by with one filetype. But not in the real world. Second, that is one of the joy of the gadgets that everyone can use them in a way that suits him. Why the only single Apple way should be the only available one? If i want to save my files not to some cloud, but to my ipad, for which btw i paid lovely 800 bucks to Apple, then be it. My choice, my way. Not Apple’s.

  68. NiStaG (@giga_read) - 7 years ago

    In my opinion the main difference between gadgets and real working solutions is the offline availability of the information. You can be abroad, in the airplane or for any reason – without internet connection, so you need apps and options do continue your work.
    For me, this is the main reason not to substitute my laptop with a iPadPro.
    This is directly related to the “file system”.
    If we could have a reliable offline access to our files, if we could work with them and obtain a postponed synchronization, if we could open one file with different application …
    Then and only then my friend …
    You will have a viable solution for the working class hero.

  69. NiStaG (@giga_read) - 7 years ago

    In my opinion the main difference between gadgets and real working solutions is the offline availability of the information. You can be abroad, in the airplane or for any reason – without internet connection, so you need apps and options do continue your work.
    For me, this is the main reason not to substitute my laptop with a iPadPro.
    This is directly related to the “file system”.
    If we could have a reliable offline access to our files, if we could work with them and obtain a postponed synchronization, if we could open one file with different application ..
    Then and only then my friend …

  70. I would argue it needs a cloud based file system that’s essentially mirrored with OSX, aka 1st party dropbox. I say essentially because not all devices need all files, but a intelligent system that downloads and deletes files as needed (with an option to keep specified files for offline use) would be awesome. Better yet, a system-level feature to allow content from other apps to be placed in said file-system as hyperlinks to the parent app.

    To use the home remodel example, I could have the folder structure of my choosing, but alongside photos, text files, CAD drawings, and whatever actual files you need, it could also have notes from Evernote, Pinterest pins, Houzz content, etc… All this mirrored across all of my devices and accessible from any web browser. And share-able.

    Yes, I know I’m dreaming…

  71. bubblehead597683 - 7 years ago

    While I would welcome a file system as described for many of the reasons described I also find that there are apps for this very specific purpose, if you pardon the expression. I use Evernote regularly with good results as well as Pages. Takes planning and diligence but any project does so, just have to change your reference I think. I am currently practicing for lack of a better term transferring my mediation practice from a MBP to the iPad Pro and a month in all seems good. The only fly in the ointment so far for me is my reluctance to embrace change in my email routine. I’m open to suggestions on easing my sorting and finding a select all option for mass deleting junk mail. Just haven’t researched it yet but when it becomes important enough I’m sure the fix is straight forward as well. If anyone wants to chat on these points, feel free to reply and we can ponder great thoughts here. Thanks…Pete

    • David Butt - 7 years ago

      If all your junk mail is in a single folder, you can select that folder, choose Edit, then Move All to the trash folder. Else you can choose Edit, select specific emails, and Move them to the folder of your choosing, including Trash.

  72. JBDragon - 7 years ago

    The iPad filesystem is already in place and usable! It’s called Dropbox or iCloud Drive!!! You can access the needed files here in one central location for what you need, and best of all, can have simple access to those same files from other sources easily.

    I really see no need t get down lower then that. You don’t need to see the files a App may use. What there needs to be is just more, better support for Dropbox and iCloud drive in Apps that need that type of thing. It’s been getting better. You can grab a file from Dropbox using one program and then do the same with another program. What else do you want?

  73. Graham J - 7 years ago

    Generally agree. I think imposing a folder structure would be limiting but a global tagging feature combined with a browsing app that pulled files and tags from Spotlight could achieve the result you’re envisioning.

  74. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    Quick observation; if it were Cook who said, literally, a file system is outdated, half the comments would be devoted to hanging the guy. But it was Steve, so..

  75. Sean Sdiddy - 7 years ago

    All Apple would need to do is create a “sandboxed” portion of the OS just for files (everything else would be hidden). They do this already with photos. When you dock your IOS device to the PC/Mac you can “browse” the photos directory. A similar “Documents” directory could be made as well so when you dock the IOS device the folders that are presented are “Documents” which could be separate or contain ‘Photos”, “Documents”, “Video” and “Music”. I get Apple wants you to purchase Icloud storage but this will be a companion to this (you would still be able to upload the “Documents” directory to iCLoud for backup). This version of IOS can also be just baked for ipad’s to keep things simple for iPhones

  76. ClicerioMP - 7 years ago

    You hit the nail with this article. I am an new user of iOS, and needed to organize files as you say. No way to do it easily as it supposed to be.

    • Martino Aquaro - 6 years ago

      Same here, I am a Design Engineer and Mgr. of the CAD/CAE Dept. which happens to encompass Documentation Control. No confidence in anything available for the Andriod OR Apple structure. And concidering that Steve J. Was a brilliant man and an Engineer as well I can only contribute this approach simply control and imposing their will. Not impressed. Great hardware limited by mans foolish emotions

  77. darthvadersithlord - 7 years ago

    A file management system for me on my ipad pro would completely eliminate the need for a laptop. I would love to see iOS 10 have this added in. It just makes sense.

  78. Scott Diamond - 7 years ago

    Being a developer and newly adopting this IPad Pro (which I had put off for many years, for this very reason), I am wondering where all these files go?! I would have this as an app – let’s call it Finder, exactly as it is on Mac OSX. That would have my vote!

  79. Richard Samson (@uksamo) - 7 years ago

    I was hoping iOS 10 would introduce something to solve this kind of problem but obviously not. The reasons in the article only highlight a few of the issues I have. My biggest concern is backing up created content files, which I’m unable to easily do with the current setup as I’m unable to actually access the raw files. Yes, some apps have cloud backup options, a lot use iCloud but what happens if my account gets deleted or corrupted? Already, I’ve had to completely blank my iPad and restore from scratch (not a backup) to fix poor performance issues and during that process I lost a number of files. I’ve also had other apps corrupt the odd file, such as a technical drawing and without periodic local or remote backups both the iCloud and local copy were corrupted with no way to restore my work. From a consumer perspective I also wanted to transfer some comic books to my iPad, in the end I had to copy the files across from my home server with one app (good reader), the open each file, one at a time, in the comic reader app, surely a simple file system would have made this so much easier. I still like my iPad 3 but until these issues are resolved I’ll be looking at Samsung or Microsofts options when I finally do decide to upgrade, there’s currently no way I could reply on the iPad for business critical tasks.

  80. Aaron Altman - 6 years ago

    A file system makes every Android device superior in regards of productivity and that’s what a tablet is all about; PRODUCTIVITY.
    I used to love my iPad Air 2 but I need to manage my files and that’s why I had to look for an alternative.
    What can I say? Productivity or sleek design?
    you guess…

    ps. Android is not too bad and the latest Android runs butter smooth

    • chrislaarmansite - 6 years ago

      Quoting two sentences from the comment I made eight months ago:
      “On the other hand, one can be very productive even on an iPad without the background assistance of a Mac. It just depends on the ways in which you happen to be productive.”

      Besides, I feel like stating my current view (an opinion, yours may differ) on Android and iOS:
      Android is about tweakability (of the device), iOS is about Getting Things Done (with the device being part of Apple’s ecosystem).

      Thirdly, I feel like reminding you that this file-system matter is limited to the /local/ files, and that it is to be resolved by the upcoming file system AFS. So you may want to limit your solutions to temporary worlkarounds.

      • krystofg - 6 years ago

        You would not need filesystem SO desperately if there were a system wide file search. W iOS, that is not a case. If i have two pdf files in two pdf apps which contain the info which i am looking for, there is no way how to find it in iOS. On Mac, there is spotlight. But in iOS there is nothing. If you dont know wheere your file is exactly located (e.g. In which app), u are done. That much for so calle “iOS productivity”.

      • Aaron Altman - 6 years ago

        chrislaarmansite, I know what you mean however much or less Android can be tweaked doesn’t mean it is its main problem or feature alongside before you get things done on an Android device – it’s cosmetic and surely nice to have it as a bonus.

        My productivity ratio on Android is on par with 95 percent compared to my Mac things I cannot do on iOS or Android I still use the Mac.

        Tim’s vision of a Mac free world where everyone uses an iPad is way much off the charts for now, perhaps Android will win this race who knows. If iOS remains passive with a proper File Browser chances are Tim will have to put his dream to sleep. Also what is needed is a expansion port to put your Micro SD card in the iPad to get more productive (Androids have just that what I need).

        Don’t get me wrong, iOS devices are kickass gorgeous and perform up til now better than their Android counterparts and this line is getting narrower by the month as Androids get better hardware also because they are not sleeping and produce what the masses want – unlike Apple who is getting not their act together but tease you with nostalgic visions that don’t hold up these days.

        If Apple has in the next generation an iPad that has the productivity requirements of my Galaxy tab s2 we will talk, but until then at home it’s Mac and on the road just Android.

        great weekend to you

  81. Brette E. Freedle - 6 years ago

    It feels like much of the time Apple tells users what they want rather than just giving them what they’re asking for. The lack of a functional file system is a major impediment to the iPad becoming a true laptop replacement, and I say that as someone who exclusively uses their iPad pro remotely. Navigating the various cloud storage options and individual apps to either open or save files is frustrating and requires needless additional steps that would be completely eliminated by simply adopting a traditional file system.

  82. advhtg - 6 years ago

    This is how I’m using my iPad Pro. My small company used MS Office for years and then converted to OpenOffice and LibreOffice in order to get away from the poor quality software. All my Windows PC files were slowly getting converted from .doc to .odt etc.

    Then the odious rental OS model of Windows meant changing to Linux or iOS and the sheer quality of Apple hardware in ALL categories of computing and phones (see UK Which Magazine) meant that iOS won. I’ve had the hardware of too many Androids and PC’s fail. Next step meant moving from PCs, laptops and Android to iPad/ iPhone…. If we were going to abandon Windows laptops, then rather than just move to macBooks I wanted to reap the the bonus of the super-portability, responsiveness and touchscreen of the iPad world. (in 2017 when I go into an Apple Store, and counted the number of seconds it STILL takes to wake up the fastest laptop in the shop, fire up Word from cold, type into it, save the file and quit the application? Seriously…. it’s no bloody faster than it was in 1995! No thank you – the iPad is definitely the tool to just get things done fast.)

    Anyway, back to the transition…. What a pain to try to move your company’s working directory of files and folders over to an iPad ! What a pain to find a way to edit all those Open Office documents and spreadsheets ! Only the legacy Word & Excel files could be edited easily on Apple devices but I’m not going back to MS doc/spreadsheet formats now – it’s got to stay open-format.

    Getting genuine local folders and files on the iPad has also been difficult. Here’s a link to the hard work I’ve put into making this work:
    or at.

    The upshot is that the iPad application of choice is “Office 700”, and the file management app to move all those files locally onto the iPad is Google Drive.

  83. Martino Aquaro - 6 years ago

    If the CEO of apple does not realize that all of the work force MUST have a file system. Then he should not be in that seat. I am an Electrical Engineer
    and I design things for the DoD. Our work at the end of the day IS nothing but a huge amount of strictly controlled files of the designs we create. Everyone
    that has a job where they work on a computer MUST have a file system. WhenApple desided that they wanted the entire gloab to use their hardware and software they should not be telling the world “oh you don’t need a file system” frankly it was insulting to anyone who really understands the new computer age. Frankly as the saying goes with great power comes great responsability and they need to be told that they need to let IOS have a file system or nobody will use it in business where we want complete confidance and control of our creations. They come off like socialist! and the populus is to ignorant to know it.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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