Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 30th Apr 2014 19:09 UTC

I deeply, truly, desperately want Apple to add a Files app and DocumentPicker controller to the iPhone and iPad in iOS 8. I've wanted it going on 4 years, and every year more than the last. It is, in my very humble opinion, one of the biggest, most frustrating holes remaining on Apple's mobile operating system, and all the more so because it seems like a model for fixing it has been in successful use for years already. Right now we're saddled with the complexity and frustration of iOS documents locked in app and iCloud jails. We're driven to outdated filesystems like Dropbox because Apple hasn't yet provided a next generation alternative. It needs to happen and so I'm once again asking for it this year and for iOS 8.

iOS has many complexity-inducing frustrations born out of "keep it simple", but none as big as this one. File handling on iOS is so incredibly frustrating and needlessly complex that I have a hard time considering it a mature operating system at all. My line of work requires constant opening and closing of a quarter metric frickton of files, and that kind of stuff is simply impossible on iOS.

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But if that 'KISS' leads to more complexity... Isn't it time to stop pretending it's KISS in the first place?

The search for simplicity can actually create complexity. iOS' handling of files is a textbook example of that.

Not that Im arguing against your point (I get it), but just to nitpick...

File handling is iOS is incredibly simple - there is almost no complexity at all. Its only "complex" when you are trying to do something that the system doesn't directly support. I.e. it is complex to try and "work around" the system, but it is extremely simple to use the system as it exists without workarounds - its braindead simple.

What you are calling complexity is not in fact complexity - it is a combination of the side effects of sandbox security and omitted features.

1. Its security in the sense that the designers took the approach that apps should be sandboxed and should not have a view of the entire file system (i.e. each app is an island). This in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Its omitted features in the sense that there is literally no OS mechanism to cross sandbox boundaries as far as local IO goes, short of things that are in central system repositories like music and whatnot. It just doesn't support doing that at all. All the complexity you see is due to developers/users attempting to plug this gap in the featureset.

Im only saying to point out that if you want 1 (and Apple strongly wants 1 because they run a curated app store and anything short of that is chaos), then you cannot have a "file picker". It just doesn't work...

There are probably a few ways to solve the problem, some of them generalized solutions (intent system ala Android), some of them more specialized (adding more system level repositories for certain kinds of data) - but the one thing that is not a solution to this problem is "add a file picker".

Just saying. It is a problem. It is a horribly bad problem. It is frankly ridiculous that they still have not addressed this problem. But the solution to this problem is not opening up the file system and adding a "file picker", because doing so cannot be done while maintaining the existing security model the OS is built upon...

Im sure the "but its my damn files and I should be able to do what I want with them" crowd will find this explanation woefully inadequate, I expect nothing less. But it is simply reality. You will never see a generalized file browser on iOS - it just isn't built to ever support doing that, and I strongly suspect it will stay that way.

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