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 We're driven to outdated filesystems like Dropbox because Apple hasn't yet provided a next generation alternative.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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I wouldn't expect a totally generic Unix filesystem browser (though I'm sure you can get them for jailbroken iOS) -- but there are a few possible 'middle road's.

* iOS already has a document-management model that uses iTunes on the desktop as a manager: each application that supports file transfers basically has a subfolder, lists its supported types, and says "you can drop files in and out of here". In theory, a system app could provide a similar view in a with no changes to the data model, and allow deleting files, transferring files to/from online services or between apps, etc without having to hook up to iTunes.

* Windows Store apps on Windows 8/RT/Phone have a similar sandboxed model, but there are specific extension points in the OS that allow an application to serve as a provider for the standard in-app file picker, both for loading and saving. Whether they literally use the filesystem, a database, or an online sync service to do it is up to the app and abstracted away.

* Over in another thread somebody mentioned document providers on newer versions of Android -- -- offhand this seems to fall in this spectrum as well.

In theory it should be possible to create an interface for opening files belonging to another app... and for instance letting the Dropbox app handle *all dropbox files* might be a lot nicer than every app having its own half-assed Dropbox support with no central point of management.

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