iOS File System - Way Forward

Discussion in 'iOS 5 and earlier' started by fabian9, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. fabian9 macrumors 65816

    fabian9

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #1
    The file system (or the lack thereof) on iOS has been much discussed ever since the original iPhone OS. I believe that a solution to the file system question will be fundamental to enable more content-creation apps to be successful on iOS.

    Without different apps being able to share the same files, the user is always having to save copies of files between apps and share them through external services such as email, dropbox, etc. This leaves the user with large number of different versions of the same file stored in different places, which is really annoying. Take the camera roll as an example:

    1) Take a photo
    2) Edit the photo in a photo editing app
    3) The app can export the edited version of the app back to the camera roll, where it is available for the next app.

    But now there are multiple versions of the same file on the camera roll, with no easy way to browse through the different versions - highly annoying.

    What can Apple do about this? Well, it turns out they have already sort of started to do it on OS X. Applications in OS X can keep 'versions' of files, with an easy way to look through current and previous versions of the same file. This could be brought to iOS and work in a similar fashion for photos. Photos are grouped by Events, Albums, Faces, Places, so there is a multitude of different ways to organise the photos.

    How does this scale to other file types? What sort of data will users actually want to edit in iOS, at least at the moment? Apart from photos and videos, there are documents, presentations and audio files for now. So there needs to be a repository for these 3 different file types, with an easy way to organise files within them (similar to iPhoto with events, etc.), apps can then access these and save versions which are stacked with the original for other apps to use. All of this is also synced with iCloud so that other iOS and OS X devices can access the latest versions of the files.

    Any thoughts on this? I'm really hoping for A solution to this in iOS 6, does this sound like a good way to go about it?
     
  2. nuckinfutz macrumors 603

    nuckinfutz

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2002
    Location:
    Middle Earth
    #2
    I think we're looking at iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 before we get into proper sharing of data between apps.

    Sandboxing isn't about security as much as roping in what areas developers can travel so that when a whole new architecture for sending/receiving app data hits both OS there won't be a bajillion different areas or ways for 3rd parties to save data.

    Every Mac developer will them proclaim "Oh..that's why they did it".
     
  3. EthanMiller macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    #3
    I think it's a start, and definitely better than what Apple has now.

    I'm holding off on an iPad until I can manage it in terms of projects instead of apps. I don't really care about a filesystem, and not every app needs to have files and filetypes.

    What I mean by that is that currently, if I'm working on a project for school that involves PDF articles, the notes I'm taking on them, and the paper I'm writing about it, the current system traps each of these related projects in the apps.

    What I am proposing is a new app that contains folders of files. Basically, it would look like the springboard, only with folders of projects. So, I could download a PDF to iBooks and add it to a project. Then I could write some stuff in Pages (Because I'm that guy who writes on an iPad) and add it to the project. Then, instead of having to go to Pages to see the paper and iBooks to see the PDFs, I could open the project and see all of the related files. Additionally, things like PDFs and images could be opened in any app that supports them, so I could open that PDF in GoodReader instead of iBooks.

    Previously, I hadn't thought of versions. That would go well in this. If a file exists here, perhaps a tap and hold would bring up the menu, which would include "Open with..." and "Browse versions."

    Additionally, I would like it to be iCloud hosted so that everything was also available on my Mac.

    Apps would still be able to keep data hostage. For example, the photo roll wouldn't need to be added to projects to be used, or a game wouldn't add its save file to Projects.
     
  4. nuckinfutz macrumors 603

    nuckinfutz

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2002
    Location:
    Middle Earth
    #4
    Versions is something that is likely to come.

    With Lion and iOS 5.0 Apple has taken a "Delta" approach to app updates. So having the system be able to store only chunks of changed data saves a lot of space.

    This in conjunction (junction) with a more efficient way of data/document passing will go a long ways towards obviating the need for a more cumbersome filesystem requiring manual management.
     
  5. fabian9 thread starter macrumors 65816

    fabian9

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #5
    If you look at OS X at the moment, music is managed by iTunes, photos and videos are managed by iPhoto. In both cases, the user doesn't need to know where or how the files are stored on the system. If you import new files (music, videos, photos), you add them to their respective application.

    On iOS, the data repository for different file types would be accessible to developers similar to the current camera roll and could similarly be incorporated into apps in the same way as photos.

    So to use your school project as an example, the app would have access to these depositories. If you're putting a file on your iPad, you could select "add to existing event/new event/" then create a new event called e.g. "school project". Now in your app to compile your school project, say you want to add some music to the project, you click on insert music, it shows you the list of music files available in the depository, you can browse by events, pick the one you want, done. Next you want to add a photo, same thing again, click on insert photo, browse through your photos by events/albums/faces/etc., pick the one you want, done.

    In a way it's not too different from what's already happening now with photos, just using the same concept and applying it to other file types. Keeping 'versions' of files is new for iOS though. :)
     
  6. EthanMiller macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    #6
    That's pretty much it. What I want is to be able to see the school project in its entirety in one spot.

    I will say, though, that I don't use iPhoto on my Mac - I hate not being able to just go in and snag my files. With iTunes, you still can. This isn't an issue on iOS (or is a much larger on, depending on your point of view) on account of nothing being able to. </offtopic>
     
  7. 5aga macrumors 6502

    5aga

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    Gig City
    #7
    IMO iCloud is Apple's solutions to the filesystem issue on iDevices. Apps will be able to access our documents files through iCloud.

    I'm still on the fence about this notion because I'm to keen on storing documents and other files in the cloud.

    but as others have stated i would prefer to see inter-app communication. That would be a much simpler and user friendly solution.
     
  8. nuckinfutz macrumors 603

    nuckinfutz

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2002
    Location:
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    #8
    The mind kind of wanders when it thinks about how a new OS X filesystem could enable better file sharing amongst applications and not eradicate but vastly improve the whole experience with working with data/documents.
     
  9. fabian9 thread starter macrumors 65816

    fabian9

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #9
    I agree that iCloud is definitely part of it, but just storing everything in the cloud can't be a solution though as long as different apps can't access files created/edited in other apps.

    ----------

    Yeh it's definitely a tall order... Unfortunately I think it will ultimately lead to a more closed down operating system.
     
  10. EthanMiller macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    #10
    I think Windows 8 hit half of it with the Share charm, and elementary OS (http://elementaryos.org/) has got it better with Contractor (http://elementaryos.org/journal/contractor-not-sharing-service).

    Difference here with iOS is that instead of Apple integrating Twitter and giving it a menu item everywhere, each app says, "I can do X." Then, when you go to share/move something, it says, "I need an app that does Y." Then the operating system gives it a list of all the apps that say they can do that.

    Doesn't alleviate the file system problem, but makes working with files a lot more bearable. And it expands for sharing to social networks seamlessly.
     

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