The iPad needs a full file system

Discussion in 'iPad' started by rcp27, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. rcp27 macrumors regular

    May 12, 2010
    I have heard this a number of times as a criticism of the iPad, but I can't figure out what this would allow a user to actually do. The only two things I can think I might want to be able to do are to use my iOS device to move random computer files around like a USB drive (I have an app for that, though) and to be able to open files with a number of different apps that can use the same type of file (listen on the iPod app and edit in Garage Band?) But that doesn't need a full file system, it just needs a "music" folder, or a "movies" folder that all music or video apps can access. So what is it that people want from a "full file system" that is so important to their iPad experience?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    A file system on the iPad will have the same benefit as on a computer.

    It will allow me to edit/create documents and organize them as I choose. Allows a centralized mechanism to storing files. Right now goodreader does it one way, noteshelf does it another way, dropbox yet another way. Even pages and numbers handles this differently then everyone else.

    I'd like a central repository to manage and access my files.
  3. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    The only reason for users access to a full file system, as opposed to the simplified one which you described, is to modify the OS. That way you can run skins, themes, and edit system files like you can on a jailbroken device. Access to a simple file system is necessary, access to a full one isn't.
  4. anti-microsoft macrumors 68000

    Dec 15, 2006
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    It doesn't need a file system that is visible to the user, it needs a central place for storing files that can be opened, uploaded, modified, saved, etc. Then developers can build applications that are capable of "seeing" these files and are able to modify them and create them etc.

    I don't know if I'm making sense,

  5. shen macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2003
    it clearly needs a full file system. that is why no one is buying them. if it had a full file system, and a bash prompt, and i could use my 12 button mouse on it, and it had a 5 1/4 floppy, it might be worth buying. But it doesn't.
  6. david77 macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
    Universal access would be good. They need to figure out a way to make users feel like they have more control. The iBooks update they did where the added Collections was a good example of this.
  7. AdeFowler macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2004
    This is what I see coming one day. A kind of sandboxed folder that would sync with free MobileMe to the same folder on your Mac/PC/cloud. The one thing Apple will never allow is a free for all file system with stuff scattered here, there and everywhere.
  8. fertilized-egg macrumors 68020

    Dec 18, 2009
    Yes, I actually wish they just by DropBox or something but I suppose that definitely won't happen.
  9. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005

    Gives you many of the features you'd need from a true file system. Upload/download from HTTP, iDisk, GoogleDocs, DropBox, store files in folders and subfolders, rename/copy/duplicate, view/play many file formats, attach files to outgoing emails, save attachments from incoming emails, .zip support, full PDF annotation features, much, much more.

    Add iCab - an alternate browser with download storage capability - and you're 95% of the way to a full file system.
  10. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    To the OP - I think you can get an better understanding of the need for a better solution than what is there now (whether that solution is a file system, file app, or other) by looking at the end result of the current treatment of files on the device.

    Apple finally made it pretty easy for devs to pass files from app to app. However, doing so creates a new version (ie copy) of the app. That leads to version confusion, eats memory, and becomes a real hassle to organization.

    There are power users like me (see my signature...) for whom a better solution is probably the #1 most desired feature not currently in iOS.

    Remember: your use case >< everyone else's.
  11. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    It's virtually certain that the new and improved MobileMe will include something equivalent to Dropbox, which may or may not be related to the AirDrop feature of Lion.
  12. PatrickCocoa macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2008
    Deliberate Choice

    I've read the replies through the afternoon of 3/3 (Thursday).

    iOS for the iPad was specifically designed to NOT have a file system. The lack of a file system is not an oversight, or something that Apple will stick in later.

    Apple (Steve) wants the iPad to be used in an app-centric approach. You spark up an app, use it, the app saves your data, then you go on with your life.

    We as a computer using society have spent the last 30 years setting up work processes and thought processes designed around files. In many financial reporting areas you can have 20 to 30 people generate 5,000 to 10,000 files each month. These files must be tracked, archived, stored, transmitted, and used. Many times one file is used as input to several different processes that each generate many more files (which are then used as input to yet more processes). This workflow is file-centric and cannot easily be implemented on an iPad.

    If you have a workflow that is file-centric, do not buy an iPad. Many business fall in this category.

    If you have a workflow that is file-centric, but you can switch to an app-centric model, then buy an iPad. Many of the previous commentators fall in this category.

    If you have a workflow that is app-centric, buy an iPad. Most casual, personal use falls in this category.
  13. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002

    Gee thanks for presuming that your wisdom trumps all.:rolleyes:

    So you mean SJ never changes his mind or adds things in later? (cut and paste, iBooks, mute/orientation lock switch, etc etc etc).

    Please do us all the favor of letting go of the notion that one size, or point of view, fits all.

    If you believe that the app centric file system as it's currently constructed will remain as is then I think you're in for quite a surprise.
  14. Gryzor macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2010
    I agree, a shared area where all apps can access the same files would be nice. Then again, so would a white iPad 2...oh wait... :D
  15. redman042 macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    Dropbox combined with the "Open in..." feature of OS 4 does the trick for me.

    But the UI for Dropbox integration is implemented differently in every app. Sometimes radically different, and it throws me off a little. It's not a big deal, but it ruins some of the seamlessness of the iOS UI.

    Also, using Dropbox requires a data connection. So if you're out in the boonies and have no signal, you're hosed.

    I agree that we're getting to the point where Apple needs to implement a universal shared file management system with a set UI across all apps and local and cloud-based storage.
  16. GregHM macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2011
    Agreed. Partition the harddrive and have a section just to store PDFs etc without havign to deal with iBooks that is slow and randomly deletes them. OR, give us a chip slot the size of a freaking cell phone card and let us put about 512 or something into there and use it as described above.
  17. Carouser macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2010
    I appreciate PatrickCocoa's point and think you should step back a sec.

    The problem is that people think of wildly different things whey they say 'file system'. Some people mean exactly what is on their desktop. Other people mean 'I want to be able to see/sort what's on my device directly.' Yet others mean 'I want different Apps to be able to access the same file.' Still others just want the security of a familiar way of doing things.

    As a result, Apple could change iOS in a way that will satisfy some, all, or none of these people and people will still fight over whether it's a filesystem or not.

    I think we should get away from thinking about files. I don't believe people really want to spend their time working with a file system, what they want is to get some desired outcome: organization, access to old or alternate versions of projects, moving media among tools (across Apps). If Apple can help the user achieve those outcomes without importing current filesystem paradigms I think they should. Apps could recognize what projects/possibilities are on your device when you open them and give you the option of realizing those possibilities, without duplicating 'files' unnecessarily -and- without having to have a GUI for files. 'Files' are just a useful abstraction anyway; it's not like anybody has little files inside their computer.
  18. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    What I think will happen with iOS 5:

    There will be several stored location folders that applications can share. Right now we have one for photos. Any app can read from your photos, and any app can save to your camera roll album.

    Imagine a similar shared storage area for Documents. Any app can read from this location, any app can save to it. It could even potentially let you sort them into albums/sub-folders.

    Not a full access file system like on PC/Mac, just extend the way that Photos work to include other types of files, mainly documents. Right now when you open a PDF in Safari you have the option to open it in iBooks or another app that registers itself as PDF-capable. That's the closest we get to local saving. Instead I think recognized file types should be able to be downloaded to your Documents store.

    Apps wouldn't actually have file system access to this 'Documents' folder, they'll just have API calls to allow them to access it. It'll still be secure since apps have such limited permissions.

    Most importantly this system isn't anything new to the iPad. It already exists for pictures. Apps can open pictures, apps can save pictures, Safari can download pictures. Just extend this to other file types plus a little bit of organizational power and probably 90% will be happy.
  19. glztt macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Lion is already implementing that kind of filesystem model (putting all the similar stuff together in collections) with the «all my files» thingy on the new finder, I would be surprised if iOS5 it doesn't have what you described.
  20. whyhellojoe macrumors member

    Mar 1, 2011
    what you've said was exactly what we needed since iOS 4. we don't need an entire navigational system that's traditional. just for apps to be able to say "yep, we're a music app and our app supports *.wav, *.mp3, *.mp4, *.acc files so let's see what we have on this device". they could then have like a "Photos" app for "Documents" that you can view all your documents on. heck, iBooks could be the "Documents" app. just imagining on the iPad. the new and improved iBooks taking hints from "Photos" with its reverse pinch to view what's in the folder (if any). reverse pinch again to see a glimpse of the book's page etc

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