The two things I really need to know in the next 30 days…

(Or, how I am trying desperately to convince myself not to reflexively buy a wifi-only model to tide myself over…)

1) The best file-system alternative.  Since there’s not much of a file-system per se, and I intend to load/access scads of documents (yes, thousands) onto the device as a consequence of using it as my primary computer, I need a file system alternative.  Here’s what I need it to do:

-Have the ability – on the iPad – to access, navigate and store files within some type of hierarchical folder-type structure.  It needn’t be 20 layers deep.  3 or 4 would do!

-Have the ability – on the iPad – the modify said folder-type structure (i.e. create new folders and subfolders, and move documents from one folder to another.

-Easily create/open/modify/save documents within this folder structure on the iPad itself.

-Have the ability to mirror/sync the folder-structure and documents themselves on the web.  So I want cloud storage sync’d/mirror’d to local storage.

-Have the ability to access/navigate/modify the folders and documents on the web from the cloud.

– Have the ability to attach documents to a new email from within the file-app.  Ideally I could select multiple files to attach.

I have to investigate Dropbox, and also see if any apps play nice with GoogleDocs with local storage.  iDisk too.  But the key questions will surround how easy it is to get documents from say Dropbox to Pages and vice versa.  Both are necessary.

2) The best printing solution.  Some have been suggested and seem to have scads of (sometimes odd sounding) features.  But really all I want to do is print to my home network printers ANY document (including emails) from my iPad, at any time, and in as seamless a manner as possible.  Ideally I’d be able to print from within other apps, but unless those other apps had hooks into the print app, that’s probably not possible.

Maybe, ideally, Dropbox or similar would offer a print module.  So while you’re navigating within the folders you could select a document to print.

I’m really looking forward to hearing about user-experiences with these types of solutions, and hope to have an obvious winner by the time the 3G models ship!  The idea that there may be a clear-cut choice by then is one of the only silver-linings I can find while I wait!!


About Tony Moody

I make movies. I wield a Les Paul and an iPad. I consume media - copious amounts. And I dabble in assorted nonsense. What do you do?
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18 Responses to The two things I really need to know in the next 30 days…

  1. Anthony – This might be of interest

    PS – shoot me an email – I have an idea I wanted to share with you


  2. Bob says:

    AirSharing Pro has printing support. You can enable Printer Sharing on your iMac and it will print documents through it. It works with iDisk, and of course you can just drag files onto from your iMac. I think it may get the job done for you. It will give you the file structure, and the printing support.

    I’m still hoping DropBox will offer these functions, because I find it to be a much better solution than iDisk. Only if it had “favouriting” of whole folders at once, which would give offline support to folders at a time.

  3. Aaron says:

    I have been playing with the iPad since yesterday. I have investigated the file systems for the iPad in the app store and there is not too much available.

    iDisk: no iPad app yet. I tried to open a Numbers file in the iphone version and it was only viewable.
    Dropbox: no iPad app yet. iPhone version is view only. same as drop box. More storage with drop box for free.

    Those three big ones and as well as two other file apps for the iPad in the app store do not allow for modifying of a file.

    I did find out that so far that google is the way to go. If you go to google docs in safari on the iPad you can bookmark the the page. Google knew we would do this. It puts a nice icon on the ipad desktop. When clicked you get to view all of your files. I had a Pages file in google docs and when I loaded it at the top it asked me if I wanted to open it in Pages. Hope that helps.


    • yoyoyankees says:

      WOW this is amazing info Aaron – thanks for posting and sharing! Just to make sure I understand the last bit…are you saying that when you opened a googledoc, in Safari, it asked you if you wanted to open it in Pages? If so, WOW.

      Also, have you figured out an easy way to export back to googledocs? That’s the missing piece perhaps…

      • Aaron says:

        Yep, that is exactly what I am saying. 🙂

        Getting it into google docs is a problem. The only way I have been able to figure out how to do it is to email it to yourself and put it into google docs when I get home for the day. Not very efficient. Still working on this……

  4. I just bought my first iPad App – goodreader. It’s a must, Anthony. Especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of PDF work

    The program (only .99) isn’t perfect – but it allows you to copy files from your computer, download via email, via safari and even FTP.

    It can view various file formats like pdf, word, pages, html, movies, pictures, etc.

    There might be better Apps out there – but again, for .99 – this is a killer app

  5. IGreen says:

    I’ve been toying with an application called FileBrowser from a company called Stratospherix ( It allows you to connect to computers within a network, browse shared files and download them locally to the iPad if you so choose. Once on the iPad the browser allows you to select the file and gives you and “Open with” option. So far I have pulled a Numbers file over from my networked iMac. Saved it locally to the iPad. Opened the file from the browser app which launched Numbers and imported the file into Numbers.

    I still need to toy around with the following:

    1.) See what happens to the Numbers file once I have edited it on the iPad. I.E. do I now have two mismatched files on the iPad, the original file within FileBrowser and the new one now within Numbers.

    2.) Is there an elegant way to get the modified file from the iPad back to my iMac.

    Still mucking about with it.

    • yoyoyankees says:

      Wow thanks for posting – this is amazing information, thank you! This seems like a pretty great solution if:
      a) you can save back to it easily from within other apps
      b) it doesn’t create multiple instances/versions of the same file

      Here’s a rudimentary question. Does an app, say Pages, when browsing files, ask the system to “Show me all files of types X,Y,Z on the device”? Or does it ask the system to “Show my all files of types X,Y,Z within the individual storage sandbox of this app?

      The distinction is pretty large in that it makes getting documents from places like dropbox and iDisk into iWork apps much easier.

      But we still need to solve the “get documents back to our preferred place/app for storage and organization” issue.

      • Irgreen says:

        No joy. The iPad version of numbers did as I feared it would. It made it’s own version of the spreadsheet and consequently the answers to both your questions above were both negative. I now have two versions of the spreadsheet, one in the file browser sandbox and one within the Numbers program sandbox. Also…..once Numbers has it’s own copy you are stuck with all it’s sub-optimal ways of getting the file back off the iPad.

        One thing I have noticed going through this is that the iPad versions of the iWork applications are very very poor shadows of their full blown Mac versions. In fact it pains me to say they are as bad as the Windows Mobile versions of Microsoft Office were on Pocket PCs. They strip out a great deal of formatting so your imported files may or may not look anything like what was in the original file. For example, I imported a fairly simple spreadsheet. The import process stripped off any comments attached to cells, all text was made one font size, and header and footer columns and rows were removed. The last one was really strange since the iPad version of the program allows you to go set header and footer columns and rows.

      • yoyoyankees says:

        Thanks for posting. But . . . .YEOWZA that’s awful news. Almost like Apple either rushed iWork apps (and/or 3.2) out the door, or intentionally did this to prevent people from doing what I intend which, over the long haul, would certainly cannibalize mac sales…

      • Travis says:

        The apps are still sandboxed, but have the option of storing files in a new area that let’s other apps / iTunes read them.

        This is what allows Mail to let you pick any supported application to load a given file type- any application that is registered to support that file type is available to pick.

        I’d imagine as more apps go iPad native- that while files are still sandboxed-per-application, more apps will have the ability to send files between them using the new registered file type functionality- at least partially addressing the biggest file issue…

      • yoyoyankees says:

        Gotcha and yup what you’re saying makes sense. I hope! What lrgreen posted below reflects a pretty poor state of affairs 😦

  6. Hbh says:

    Yes, the iWorks apps for iPad is limited. Apple even has a page in their support site listing the limitations’ fonts and formatting among them. In Keynote it loses grouping which is a pretty big deal for slide show power users. I intend to try to work around the limitations by preparing docs with the iPad and moving them to my MacBook if I have to.

    Doesn’t really change my plan to use the iPad in lieu of my Mac…yet!

  7. hbh says:


    Thought this might be of value to you.

    Happy Hunting.

    • yoyoyankees says:

      WOW thanks! ALready found one amazing thing: “PHP Email To Upload – A modification of the Dropbox Uploader to check an email address for attachments, and uploading them to your dropbox.”

      Sort of like the ‘Downloads’ Folder on your mac. Excellent!

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