How do you power users deal with no real file system?

TheKevinFang

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Original poster
May 10, 2015
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This really weirds me out, but I keep getting frustrated at the lack of a real file system and having to use iTunes for everything, it makes me have to use my PC too often, which was noticeable when I went on a holiday this summer, and had no access to a PC.

How do you power users deal with no real file system in iOS? Personally, I wouldn't accept cloud services as an answer, as this would be to use files offline.
 

Suckfest 9001

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May 31, 2015
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It definitely sucks and kind of cripples the phone's ability to be a proper consumption device; you still can't download music directly into the Music app from sources other than iTunes. Same with videos. Same with apps. You just can't download in general unless you're using an app to open your downloads, in which case those apps are sandboxed anyway and the files contained within aren't available system-wide.

It's totally something that I really appreciate about Android and something that I sorely miss on iPhone. Probably going to be getting a OnePlus Two or something next.
 
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TheKevinFang

macrumors member
Original poster
May 10, 2015
94
20
It definitely sucks and kind of cripples the phone's ability to be a proper consumption device; you still can't download music directly into the Music app from sources other than iTunes. Same with videos. Same with apps. You just can't download in general unless you're using an app to open your downloads, in which case those apps are sandboxed anyway and the files contained within aren't available system-wide.

It's totally something that I really appreciate about Android and something that I sorely miss on iPhone. Probably going to be getting a OnePlus Two or something next.
+1. I really appreciate all the buttery smooth and consistent experience with iOS 9, however I have heavily considering the Samsung Galaxy Note 5/Galaxy S6+, along with the Z5 Premium, and even the LG G4 (Pro), just for the file system, customisability, SD Card slots (for some), and the lack of a need to rely on a whole ecosystem for the phone itself to function to its maximum potential.
 
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spoa94

macrumors 6502a
Oct 12, 2011
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Since Apple likes to cater to ease of use rather than power features it seems they will not add a true file system access for a long time. I would say until Macbook market completely dies (which I don't see happening). Makes sense from a marketing standpoint. Power users will buy both Mac and iOS devices. If the iOS devices become too much like OS X devices then mac sales will drop.
 
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576316

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May 19, 2011
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It definitely sucks and kind of cripples the phone's ability to be a proper consumption device; you still can't download music directly into the Music app from sources other than iTunes. Same with videos. Same with apps. You just can't download in general unless you're using an app to open your downloads, in which case those apps are sandboxed anyway and the files contained within aren't available system-wide.

It's totally something that I really appreciate about Android and something that I sorely miss on iPhone. Probably going to be getting a OnePlus Two or something next.
Wouldn't want any of that. Would open iOS to just so many viruses and malware. Especially the apps thing. There's a good reason why Apple police the App Store so heavily. It's part of the service I pay out for and it's unlike anything else on the market.

Hands down the worst thing about Android, for me, is its seeming complete lack of regulation. Seems like anyone can drop what they like on it, do what they like with it and your data really isn't safe. Heck, I don't believe anyone using an Android phone is safe themselves, if it's not Google tracking your every move, message, email and tweet looking for new ways to advertise at you (the whole reason Android was created) then it's someone else trying to ransom lock your phone, steal your payment info...I honestly can't see the appeal of Android at all.

Google are shady and have hidden agendas, is how I feel. I don't agree with the basis on which Android was created.

But then...I'm not everyone.
 
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Frogfoot

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Sep 12, 2015
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As someone who used Android prior to the iPhone 6, I suspect you're just running into a bit of culture shock. Android tries flexible; it tries to fit into your existing ways of using your other devices. With any iDevice, this is very deliberately not the case. It's in all cases Apple's way or the highway. If your issue is (as I imagine) that you have an existing, non-iTunes media library and you want to be able to make your device fit into your existing ways of working, I can tell you that there's no good way to do it. Support for that will always be second-class. If you want a pleasant and reliable user experience, you must convert your entire library to the file formats Apple support, and sync it through iTunes or through Apple's cloud services.

If anything justifies that lack of flexibility, it's the polish that Apple's absolutism affords: they have very few sets of assumptions about how the device is used, and make sure those few supported ways of using it work as well as they can. Apple does not try to offer everything to everyone. But once you do have everything in their ecosystem, it will all sync relatively painlessly, and if you buy new content from iTunes or iOS apps you won't need a computer at all. You get features like Continuity, and updates that aren't held up for months by manufacturers and carriers. Apps will support your device/screen size better, because there are only a handful of devices (rather than thousands) on the platform at any one time. When things do go wrong, you'll find that Apple has very good customer service. iOS, in short, may not always "just work", but it at least has a far better chance of "just working" than anything else on the market today. That is not despite but because Apple is so inflexible about how you may use your device.

Whether or not that's a good trade-off for you is something you have to consider very carefully before buying.
 
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FreeState

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Jun 24, 2004
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San Diego, CA
How do you power users deal with no real file system in iOS? Personally, I wouldn't accept cloud services as an answer, as this would be to use files offline.
iCloud drive works well for me. I save all my files (except for Adobe Cloud files) in the cloud. I can access them on all my devices in all the apps I use. I haven't rant into a problem on iOS9 in this regards.

(Mac Pro, two iPads, iPhone, Apple watch - all in my ecosystem).
 
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dugbug

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Aug 23, 2008
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Somewhere in Florida
This really weirds me out, but I keep getting frustrated at the lack of a real file system and having to use iTunes for everything, it makes me have to use my PC too often, which was noticeable when I went on a holiday this summer, and had no access to a PC.

How do you power users deal with no real file system in iOS? Personally, I wouldn't accept cloud services as an answer, as this would be to use files offline.
It has a real file system, you mean a file browser?

1. ICloud drive works offline and online.
2. Use extensions. This is similar to "open with..." on a desktop.
3. In email, hold an attachment down and you will get an actual open with... (there are other instances of this I just cannot recall).

Extensions are how apps can provide functionality such as a custom keyboard or photo filter or (say) pdf viewer. There are billions of them and you can control which ones you want and even customize the open with menu. It works surprisingly well.
 
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Suckfest 9001

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May 31, 2015
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Wouldn't want any of that. Would open iOS to just so many viruses and malware. Especially the apps thing. There's a good reason why Apple police the App Store so heavily. It's part of the service I pay out for and it's unlike anything else on the market.

Hands down the worst thing about Android, for me, is its seeming complete lack of regulation. Seems like anyone can drop what they like on it, do what they like with it and your data really isn't safe. Heck, I don't believe anyone using an Android phone is safe themselves, if it's not Google tracking your every move, message, email and tweet looking for new ways to advertise at you (the whole reason Android was created) then it's someone else trying to ransom lock your phone, steal your payment info...I honestly can't see the appeal of Android at all.

Google are shady and have hidden agendas, is how I feel. I don't agree with the basis on which Android was created.

But then...I'm not everyone.
Not really. You can limit access to the system files/root and still have a filesystem and interaction between apps through a main, shared filesystem. A shared, common place where you can store files doesn't mean you're opening any doors for viruses/malware. Allowing adding music from other sources also isn't opening any doors to viruses and malware.

Would it increase the challenge of dealing with potential exploits? Sure. But I'd expect the world's richest tech company of all time to be able to figure it out. They seem to still be stuck on making things 60fps so it might take a while.
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
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It's simple.

The iPhone is not a general purpose computer.
The iPhone is NOT a general purpose computer.
The iPhone is NOT A FREAKING GENERAL PORPOISE err PURPOSE COMPUTER. ;)

It is an appliance. It is meant for communication and consuming information. It's not intended to replace a real computer and never will. I don't expect it to.

I don't think it's possible to make the iPhone a general purpose computer without it losing the reliability and immediacy that it has. There's a balance between convenience and power and the iPhone rides it nicely.

Do I sometimes wish it could do more? Sure. But it's not high on my priority list. When I need a real computer that's what my Macbook and iMac are for.
 
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Abazigal

macrumors G5
Jul 18, 2011
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Singapore
I personally love that there is no file system in ios. To me, it just makes sense to have my files silo'ed by app, rather than all placed in one giant dumping ground of a folder. I open the app and my files are there. No need to go digging deep into a hierarchical file system.

Granted, my workflow doesn't really involve me hopping around from one app to the other. If I really need a file manager, there are always apps like dropbox, documents and PDF expert.
 
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JXShine

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Jun 11, 2015
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+1. I really appreciate all the buttery smooth and consistent experience with iOS 9, however I have heavily considering the Samsung Galaxy Note 5/Galaxy S6+, along with the Z5 Premium, and even the LG G4 (Pro), just for the file system, customisability, SD Card slots (for some), and the lack of a need to rely on a whole ecosystem for the phone itself to function to its maximum potential.
Feel free to go to android, because Apple will never give you any of those things. And no, you are wrong about needing any of those things to be a power user.
 
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KALLT

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Sep 23, 2008
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Well I would like iPhone to be a bit more independent from iTunes. Currently, you still can’t add any ringtones without iTunes or import tracks you have, for instance, in your iCloud Drive or Dropbox to Music. Apple should at least offer some share actions for those apps, like you can with pictures and PDF documents which you can easily add to Photos and iBooks. There are apps that you can use as quasi file browsers, to connect to local file servers or cloud servers, but you can’t do much with them because Apple has not provided any outlets for things that people want to change.
 
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576316

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May 19, 2011
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Which is a good thing because your way of thinking is dangerous.
It's dangerous because I'd prefer my phone not be open to an Internet of viruses and exploits, pulled in by a needless 'file system' which most Apple users have absolutely no use for, and is not something Apple are interesting in or will ever implement into iOS, so basically stop crying about it?

You're quite clearly the minority in this thread.

I have no respect for people who jump straight to personal insults when they can't argue their point well enough.
 
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576316

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May 19, 2011
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By "real", I meant in the case of the consumer being able to access it - so yeah, a file browser.
95% of iPhone users do not have a single use for a file browser because Apple have made it so easy to do everything the general consumer needs to do, right inside of iOS with very powerful 1st and 3rd party applications. Also iCloud Drive has a file system so your argument is pretty much null anyway.

You're just arguing that users should have access to the root files of the phone which is just dangerous anyway, since anyone who doesn't know what they're doing could seriously screw up their OS. The same reason why Apple hides the OS file system in OS X and you only get to it through keyboard shortcuts. They know people need it on a desktop OS, but they're not gonna make it easy to find for people who don't know what they're doing - even then some folders and files are dead locked anyway.

Apple aren't going to add a weakness, nee a liability, into their OS just for the 2% who might use it.
 
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pigbrother

macrumors newbie
May 29, 2012
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4 years ago, it pissed me off badly. After 4 years, I don't really care anymore. I use Documents 5 as a central place for my files and send them back and forth to other apps. I'm still annoyed sometimes by the limits of native apps like Music because they dont accept import via Send to, but after all this time I realise I sync new content way too seldon to really care. All i wish is just a less sucky iTunes version. :)
 
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ericgtr12

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Mar 19, 2015
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It's dangerous because I'd prefer my phone not be open to an Internet of viruses and exploits, pulled in by a needless 'file system' which most Apple users have absolutely no use for, and is not something Apple are interesting in or will ever implement into iOS, so basically stop crying about it?

You're quite clearly the minority in this thread.

I have no respect for people who jump straight to personal insults when they can't argue their point well enough.
Agreed, this reply has more of a Libertarian "how dare you take away my freedom of choice" vibe, which is fine but this is an iPhone whose rules are dictated by a corporation who can do whatever they want, whether or not we buy it is our own choice. No need for people to get all Rand Paul about it.

As for the file system, it would be nice to be able to associate your own file types and drag files in and out at will, mostly because iTunes is a terrible system. However, I do agree that the file system is going the way of the dinosaur and cloud services seems to be the way everything's going.
 
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alisalem

macrumors member
Apr 12, 2013
75
44
Mississauga, ON
I never found a need for a file manager. Even when I used Android for a few months, I found myself using the Nexus 5 the same way I would use an iPhone. I hated the lack of an iCloud alternative that could backup your entire phone. My photo library is entirely on iCloud and works seamlessly across my Mac and iPhone. Cloud based storage is the future (you could argue it already is the present). Like others were saying, the iPhone is not an alternative to a computer. But when I find a need of opening a file outside my library, I use Documents by Readdle. Works with all cloud sharing services and opens all sorts of files you could think of. So it kinda acts like a file manager. The days of connecting your phone to load up some files on it are gone in my opinion. I don't recall opening iTunes since I goy my 6 Plus.

I hate Apple for introducing iCloud. Trust me, I wanted to use Android but couldn't becaue of how well iCloud works (especially if you have a Mac).

There's also another handy app which I really like called
FileBrowser. https://appsto.re/ae/XFxVv.i
I use it to access my Mac on my local network and browse files on it.

Edit: I've seen quite a few comments about Music. Documents by Readdle works great as a music player.
 
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