Pimp my iPhone: Apps for storing, editing and reading files

Pimp my iPhone: Apps for storing, editing and reading files

Summary: Pimp my iPhone. Apple has made it unnecessarily difficult to use the iPhone and iPod touch for file storage. Here are a couple of my favorite apps for storing, editing and reading files on the iPhone.


Apple has made it unnecessarily difficult to use the iPhone and iPod touch for file storage. I can understand why Apple doesn't want users poking around int the iPhone's file system (piracy) but making it intentionally difficult to storage files on the iPhone is foolish.

The iPhone could (and should) be the replacement for the modern USB flash drive, but it isn't because Apple makes it difficult to store, transfer or otherwise manipulate files on the iPhone. USB access only available via an expensive, proprietary cable and Apple provides almost no software tools to manage files, with the exception of its iDisk app (free) which requires a $99/year subscription.

While it's true that you can open email attachments on the iPhone, it's not a substitute for true file storage. The iPhone needs the equivalent of a Documents folder, where users can store word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, whatever, just like you can on your Mac.

Enter the App store.

While there's no single app that's going to be perfect for every situation, here are a couple of my favorite apps right now for storing, editing and reading files.

GoodReader (99 cents) – This amazing gem is a PDF reader with local storage and WiFi transfer. It can search inside PDFs and opens large PDFs quickly and without crashing. I especially like the PDF reflow feature which extracts the text from a PDF file and reflows it to fit the iPhone screen – without left/right scrolling. Autoscroll makes reading PDFs even more compelling. Now I just want it to read PDFs to me, via Text To Speech. Oh, and make me a sandwich, too.

Documents 2 Go ($7.99) – In addition to a file system to store files the iPhone desperately needs a way to edit files - specifically Word and Excel files. The lack of proper Word Processing and spreadsheet editing is a huge omission on the iPhone by both Apple and Google (docs) that (hopefully) won't last forever. Being a writer I find it handy to be able to view, edit and create Word and Excel files on my iPhone. The iPhone obviously isn't recommended for long writing but Docs 2 Go is extremely useful when a quick file edit is needed. In addition, Docs 2 Go transfers files over WiFi and email. It earns its $8 price very quickly.

ezShare Pro ($6.99) – If you need to connect to a file server from your iPhone this amazing app can do it. With it you can access WebDAV (Mobile), FTP, SFTP, NAS (Time Capsule and Airport Extreme) right from your hot little iPhone. You can even stream music and videos from your computer or WebDAV server and access files from Google (docs) and Picasa (photos). I give high marks to this powerful swiss army knife for servers and look forward to the other features to come. A free version (lacking WebDAV) is also available.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Apple's own iDisk app (free) which allows you to view (but not edit) files on your iDisk and access other people's public folders. Unfortunately the iDisk app lacks file editing and can only email a link to a file, not the file itself.

Apple could easily dominate the category by adding on-device file storage, editing and management to the iDisk app. Email attachments via iDisk integrated directly into the iPhone's Mail app would be the icing on the cake, but don't hold your breath waiting for Cupertino.

What apps do you use for storing, editing and reading files on your iPhone?

Photo: Tina in Warsaw

Topics: iPhone, Apple, Apps, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • Dropbox

    Dropbox is also a nice alternative (and free)
    • Dropbox is billiant

      I had to renew my mortgage last month. Of course the Mortgage broker would call me at work looking for copies of different documents.

      Since I had softcopies of everything she needed I would email her a link to the document from my iPhone.

      I love the fact that I have access to all my documents but don't need to sacrifice space on my phone to do it.
    • ZumoDrive is pretty slick as well.

      • ZumoDrive's okay...

        I used it for a bit, but it wasn't quite as easy to use as Dropbox. And, do
        you get the change to earn more storage with Zumo? I don't recall any,
        sadly. With Dropbox, you start at 2GB, and can get to 5GB through
        accepted invites.
  • iPhone streaming


    These are pretty impressive applications. I've seen a few before and after a very in depth research we worked on something more advanced then created an iPhone broadcaster. I don't know if you ever seen this working. We are now trying to integrate it with other iPhone applications and was wondering if those can be implemented with ours. More information about what we achieved is here:

    Professional Streaming Consultant
  • All well and good but...

    ...this seems to me like rather basic functionality that one would expect to be available without having to use third party software - paid or otherwise. Its amazing what people will put up with if they think it's "cool".
    • Huh?

      The question presented is: What apps do you use for storing, editing
      and reading files on your iPhone?

      "...rather basic functionality...". My Palm device didn't do it I had to
      purchase Documents To Go. Though the ability to edit documents
      would be nice how is it basic functionality?

      Also, "Its amazing what people will put up with if they think it's "cool".
      For many folks the iPhone, Droid, and the like fulfill a utilitarian need
      and are fun to use however, you feel a need to belittle them. Your
      comments add nothing constructive to this conversation.

      For storing files I use iDisk. I've have been looking a other programs
      as well.
      • Yo, iTard!

        yUs jest dont get it. Youd has to have yur idisk which be somthing that doesnt comes with it - you has to get it speratly. Why? Caus its iTarded!
        • Can someone translate this crap for me?

          I can get the basic point that the one who posted this is a knuckle-dragging, mouth breathing anti-Apple troll who's major success thus far has been the destruction of the english language. Dude if you are gonna talk about the "iTarded" at least don't spell like you are retarded.
        • iTard? Yeah, That's Original

          Not only are you an illiterate idiot, but you're extremely uneducated,
          both in speech, text, and information wise. iDisk is something that's
          built into all Macs, and there's a free app for the iPhone. The reason it
          doesn't COME on the iPhone is because not everyone who has an
          iPhone has a MobileMe account. By the way, how does something not
          being included make it "ITarded"? I can go on an on about such not
          included pieces of dire software when it comes to Windows.

          Stable Movie Maker? No.
          Virus protection? No.
          Malware blocker? No.
          Fast web browser? No.
          Stable and responsive OS? No.
          PDF reader? No. (Even the iPhone and Mac OS X come with that)
          Microsoft Exchange support? No.
          Photo organizer? No.

          My point being, you're complaining about an iPhone not having an
          iDisk app. Yet there are complete - and widely used - operating
          systems, that are extremely lacking, software wise.
    • I totally agree

      [i]Its amazing what people will put up with if they think it's "cool".[/i]

      Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. iSheep.
      • everyone agrees.

        the blog opens with a statement decrying the lack
        of native support for file storage. it's just dumb
        that this is not standard on the iphone.
        • Or they don't want to edit office documents on a phone

          Name the other phone that does the following:
          - Controls my media system in every room of my house.
          - Runs, Runkeeper when I go for a jog
          - Keeps track of my workout while I train at the gym
          - Runs a Dropbox app so I can access or email a document (why would I use disk space for that when I can use the web)

          The last 3 while I listen to music.
          • Laughable

            They all have apps for all those things or their equivalents. Gotta hand it to Apple, their ads have successfully convinced the ignorant that only the iPhone supports applications. Son, we've been running applications on our phones since before Apple even knew what a cell phone was. :)
          • Please educate me.

            I have yet to find the equivalent of any of those apps on other platforms.

            If you can recommend/name some then you can win the price of being the only person that wants to stay in Alberta.

          • And?!

            Dude, you just love the strawman argument!!! How long something has
            been done is irrelevant, especially when one considers how [b]bad[/b]
            Windows Mobile is! It's not just bad, [b]IT STINKS[/b]! Get it through your
            thick skull, Windows Mobile isn't even the 4th best mobile OS!
          • Oh no, the iPhone is definitely not the only

            smartphone that supports apps - it's just that the App Store Apps from Apple are a lot better, more inuitive, and just kick ass.
          • Old man...you've been pimping for Microsoft since before they were a stock!

            No More Microsoft Software
          • I don't care about editing, really.

            i want storage and viewing. a file browser.
          • Those are pretty much my needs as well.

            content editing on a phone is pretty low on my priority list but I should
            at least be able to carry them with me and read them over if I need to.