IStorage 2 is the coolest iPad file manager I have yet seen. It has a bunch of missing parts, and a few UI weirdnesses, but this DropBox-and-iCloud-connecting app uses the iPad’s touch interface and graphical horsepower to bring us the iPad file manager we always wanted.
I have gone back and forth on DropBox file managers for the iPad, settling on iFiles as a good compromise between functionality, ease-of-use and prettiness. Sure, GoodReader does more, but the UI is so bad I always feel like somebody swapped out my iPad for a PC every time I launch it.
But iStorage goes one better, bringing dual-pane drag-and-drop and even a slick and smooth cover flow view to the iPad. Here’s what it does.
The app ($6) can connect to DropBox and iCloud, as well as any and every form of FTP and SFTP server, and a couple of other cloud storage services. What it won’t do is connect to your Google Docs or Gmail, nor many other third party cloud services. No matter, for me at least — I keep my entire Docs folder in DropBox, so that’s all I need.
Annoyingly, though, you have to manually log in to DropBox. IOS apps can request authentication from the DropBox app if it’s installed, but iStorage doesn’t do this. Worse, it disables iOS’ text expansion shortcuts in the username field, so I had to type in my e-mail address.
These annoyances fall away when you see the interface. You can tap buttons to view in the familiar (to OS X users) column, icon, list and cover flow views. In all of these except cover flow you can drag-and-drop files to other folders or even other cloud services. In theory at least — DropBox threw an error every time I tried to copy or move a file into it.
IStorage uses its own iCloud directory of course, so you can’t access files stored by other apps. A forthcoming OS X version of the app will give access to this from the Mac, though, making it more useful.
You should really enable the dual-pane view (in the settings). This makes copying easier, and uses up the extra screen space that always comes when a file-browsing app uses a full screen.
This is how every app should handle photo browsing and selection
The photo browsing section of iStorage is in many ways better than iOS’ built in Photos app. You can view images in full screen as a slideshow, but when you’re selecting images it really shines. The grid of thumbnails fades into the background and the current photo is enlarged to float over the top. You can see the edges of the next and previous photos and swipe between them. Tap to select of deselect any image, and when you return to the thumbnail view, these selections remain.
This is how every app should handle photo browsing and selection.
You can also edit images, crop them and save them out as varying qualities of JPG, or as PNGs. And if you’re resizing, the aspect ratio is maintained. Say you are resizing a 500 x 369 image, like the one I have of Tom Sellick eating a sandwich by a waterfall. If I set the x-length to 640, the app automatically sets the height to 472. There are apps in the App Store designed just for resizing images that don’t do this.
You can also bookmark any file by hitting a little button. These are then available in the bookmarks section, which is itself divided into further categories (files, web bookmarks, photos and so on). Thus you can keep a directory of favorites and access them (or edit them or duplicate them) at any time. It’s pretty neat.
I’m still digging in to the app, and discovering cool features (double tap anything to open it, including folders, or zip files) or small sections which rival whole apps (the PDF browser is excellent, for instance).
The app is so goos, in fact, that I have started saving out e-mail attachments into it as soon as I get them, ready for later use. Sure, other apps can take care of this, but iStorage somehow clicks as the default place to keep files on my iPad. And as it works (or should work) so well with DropBox and iCloud, I can see it becoming essential on my Mac when that version hits. Recommended.