Apple reinventing file access, wireless sharing for iPad

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple is dramatically rethinking how applications organize their documents on iPad, leaving behind the jumbled file system and making file access between the iPad and desktop computers seamless.



In a move foreshadowed by the Newton Message Pad fifteen years ago, Apple's new iPad jettisons the conventional shared file system and introduces a new, streamlined convention for working with document files that ordinary users should find much more understandable.



Outside of savvy computer users, the idea of opening a file by searching through hierarchical paths in the file system is a bit of a mystery. Add in the concept of local and cloud file servers and things really get confusing.



Apple has already taken some steps to hide complexity in the file system in Mac OS X; Spotlight search was supposed to make a file's location almost irrelevant, while apps such as iTunes, iPhoto, and Photo Booth now present their databases of content in media folders within the open file panel rather that forcing users to slog through the underlying file system.



The Finder, iTunes and iPhoto also allow users to wirelessly share content between different systems via Bonjour-discovered file shares that pop up automatically whenever another system sharing files is sensed on the network.



The iPhone similarly abstracts away the file system entirely; there is no concept of opening or saving files, just a media library of Photos and file attachments that stay connected to their mailbox items. But the iPhone currently isn't designed to do much more than view files.



iPad's new document sharing model



With the iPad, Apple demonstrated new multitouch versions of desktop-class iWorks apps with user interfaces that need to open and save documents. There's still no file system browser with open and save panels. Instead, each app displays the files it knows about at launch for the user to navigate through directly.



An iPad developer has revealed to AppleInsider how this new mechanism works, without also requiring that users learn about the complexity of the underlying file system. Rather than iPad apps saving their documents into a wide open file system, apps on iPad save all their documents within their own installation directory. Delete the app and you'll clean out all of its related files. This is how the iPhone OS already works.



Additionally, iPad apps can now specify that their documents be shared wirelessly. With that configuration, the iPad will make available each apps' documents, allowing the user to wirelessly mount their iPad via WiFi and simply drag and drop files back and forth between it and their desktop computer.



On the desktop system, the iPad will show up as a share containing a documents folder for each app that enables sharing. For example, a user with iWork apps will be able to wirelessly connect to their iPad as if it were a directly connected drive, and simply drag spreadsheet, presentation, or word processing files between their local system and the mobile device as desired.



Documents copied to the app's shared folder will be graphically presented by the app when it launches, sparing users from having to figure out where to look for their document files and avoiding any need to sort through different kinds of documents. The document listing also presents each file as a large preview akin to Quick View on the Mac OS X desktop.



And iPad app's documents can be presented in any way that makes sense, depending on how many and what kind of documents the individual iPad app uses. Apple demonstrated its Work apps scrolling through a quick list of documents, while its iBooks app presents its various digital books as titles in a virtual bookshelf.



Just like the iPhone, the iPad will sync some apps' documents via either iTunes or MobileMe, including photos, music, movies, TV shows, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks.
«13456726

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 507
    cmf2cmf2 Posts: 1,427member
    Yay, I've been waiting for someone to describe how this worked. Does this work for third party apps too?
  • Reply 2 of 507
    tekstudtekstud Posts: 351member
    I wish they'd fix Quicktime first.
  • Reply 3 of 507
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    I'm warming up to it. This is good news.
  • Reply 4 of 507
    irelandireland Posts: 17,780member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TEKSTUD View Post


    I wish they'd fix Quicktime first.



    That was unrelated.
  • Reply 5 of 507
    irelandireland Posts: 17,780member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post


    Yay, I've been waiting for someone to describe how this worked. Does this work for third party apps too?



    Yes, read the article lol.
  • Reply 6 of 507
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post


    Yay, I've been waiting for someone to describe how this worked. Does this work for third party apps too?



    That's what the OP said.
  • Reply 7 of 507
    imacfpimacfp Posts: 750member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post


    Yay, I've been waiting for someone to describe how this worked. Does this work for third party apps too?



    Yes if already does on the iPhone. That's why it is important to sync and backup. I suspect you won't be able to delete iWork etc off your iPad
  • Reply 8 of 507
    Hrmmm, that ought to make backups a cinch!
  • Reply 9 of 507
    This works well for a small number of documents, as on the iPhone, but it becomes a problem when working on, say , a project, where it might be desirable to keep all the different document types for the project grouped together. With a conventional file structure it's easy, when the project is done, to archive all the related documents and remove them.
  • Reply 10 of 507
    This mangles the concept of ?projects.? When I?m doing video work I?ll have files from a variety of applications collocated in a centralized directory: DV/AVCHD/mov video; FCE/FCP sequences; jpg/TIF/PSD images; PDF; AIFF/MP3 audio; etc.



    Now I realize that the iPad does not currently support video creation at all. But other kinds of projects can also require files from various apps.



    I don?t see how the app=file type library or file system can make this work. So is the iPad truly not to be compatible with or usable for content creation, and is just to be a viewer? Maybe so. Have to think about that.
  • Reply 11 of 507
    toyintoyin Posts: 58member
    I think this is where Apple has been heading for sometime......and I like it. I remember when iTunes came out. I couldn't stand it reorganizing my folders. When iPhoto came out I had a apoplectic fit as it hid all my carefully organized photo folders. You know what, after letting the applications organize my files/folders, I found it so much easier. I can't remember the last time I went looking for photos or music files in the finder. If I need a file I simply drag it to the desktop or onto the application icon in the dock that needs it.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by themeperks View Post


    This works well for a small number of documents, as on the iPhone, but it becomes a problem when working on, say , a project, where it might be desirable to keep all the different document types for the project grouped together. With a conventional file structure it's easy, when the project is done, to archive all the related documents and remove them.



    This is where metadata could make this file system work. Tag one project's files with the project name.
  • Reply 12 of 507
    I was curious if Apple decided to tie this to a MobileMe contract, what would happen to your files if you decided after a year you didn't want to continue your MobileMe. What happens to your files? Does Apple allow you to download them to a hard drive? What if you don't have the space? Do you have to continue to use MobileMe just to hang onto your files? Obviously this is in the early stages. I'm sure cloud computing is coming. I'm just wondering what happens if you change your mind. Can you get off the cloud?
  • Reply 13 of 507
    I could see projects being accommodated by the iPad 'file structure'. If applications allowed you to tag files with a 'project name' as some sort of metadata, then Spotlight could be used to find all files associated with that project. It would show all files in one pane by app type or metadata, with no need for a file structure. Spotlight could be modified with a collect for output type capability similar to InDesign or Quark, to collect all files for sharing, archiving, copying - almost anything. If there were a lot of little files this might get a bit tedious, but there must be some good way to make it work.



    I've always wondered if Spotlight could replace the Finder, but it would definitely take some getting used to and would need a few UI enhancements. It sure would simplify things for my older mother - trying to explain how the Finder works is like pulling teeth.
  • Reply 14 of 507
    toyintoyin Posts: 58member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MeCourious View Post


    I was curious if Apple decided to tie this to a MobileMe contract, what would happen to your files if you decided after a year you didn't want to continue your MobileMe. What happens to your files? Does Apple allow you to download them to a hard drive? What if you don't have the space? Do you have to continue to use MobileMe just to hang onto your files? Obviously this is in the early stages. I'm sure cloud computing is coming. I'm just wondering what happens if you change your mind. Can you get off the cloud?



    "On the desktop system, the iPad will show up as a share containing a documents folder for each app that enables sharing. For example, a user with iWork apps will be able to wirelessly connect to their iPad as if it were a directly connected drive, and simply drag spreadsheet, presentation, or word processing files between their local system and the mobile device as desired. "
  • Reply 15 of 507
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    How long before AI will be obliged to start a stand alone iPad forum?



    Or at the very least make this one "iPhone + iPad" in the manner of "iPod + iTunes + AppleTV."
  • Reply 16 of 507
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MeCourious View Post


    I was curious if Apple decided to tie this to a MobileMe contract, what would happen to your files if you decided after a year you didn't want to continue your MobileMe. What happens to your files? Does Apple allow you to download them to a hard drive? What if you don't have the space? Do you have to continue to use MobileMe just to hang onto your files? Obviously this is in the early stages. I'm sure cloud computing is coming. I'm just wondering what happens if you change your mind. Can you get off the cloud?



    This has absolutely nothing to do with MobileMe
  • Reply 17 of 507
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stumbleone View Post


    This mangles the concept of ?projects.? When I?m doing video work I?ll have files from a variety of applications collocated in a centralized directory: DV/AVCHD/mov video; FCE/FCP sequences; jpg/TIF/PSD images; PDF; AIFF/MP3 audio; etc.



    Now I realize that the iPad does not currently support video creation at all. But other kinds of projects can also require files from various apps.



    I don?t see how the app=file type library or file system can make this work. So is the iPad truly not to be compatible with or usable for content creation, and is just to be a viewer? Maybe so. Have to think about that.



    More than likely, they'll have something like GarageBand for iPad, and iMovie for iPad, etc. In those apps, I imagine they will allow some kind media sharing between apps. But I doubt there will ever be any pro-level, or semi-pro-level media creation workflow tools.
  • Reply 18 of 507
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,167member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post


    Yay, I've been waiting for someone to describe how this worked. Does this work for third party apps too?



    Developers will have access to this feature.
  • Reply 19 of 507
    tom1tom1 Posts: 1member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    An iPad developer has revealed to AppleInsider how this new mechanism works, without also requiring that users learn about the complexity of the underlying file system. Rather than iPad apps saving their documents into a wide open file system, apps on iPad save all their documents within their own installation directory. Delete the app and you'll clean out all of its related files. This is how the iPhone OS already works.







    If I delete the application, the files are deleted too? So if a file can be opened with more than one app, and I delete the app, the files are deleted? If I need to reinstall a program, the files are deleted? This sounds scary. Wow, if I create something in iWork and an iPad version of MSOffice is created, I can't delete iWork without losing my documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Wow! I hope this isn't the case.
  • Reply 20 of 507
    I hope that you'll be able to stream movies and music from your household Macs or PCs to your iPad so that you don't have to sync them first.



    Like streaming to an Apple TV or streaming from Mac to Mac.
Sign In or Register to comment.