The iPad’s file-system…


Apple take on the file-system for the iPad.

AppleInsider has a great article about one of the mystery’s of the upcoming iPad – the file system and sharing the content you create on the device.

If the iPad is going to become a really useful device, and not just ‘a big iPod Touch’ as has been said by various negative commentators around the internet, then how the device sits amongst the ‘computers’ in the world is important.

I say ‘computers’ in quotation marks because the iPad isn’t a computer – not in the current definition: ‘a computing device that allows you to write, install and run any software and extend that computer to do just about anything you want.’

The iPad certainly isn’t that, but I feel that’s a good thing.

Not just a ‘good’ thing – a desirable thing.

To be truthful, I’m fed up with computers and what they are – I want something closer to the iPhone, something that let’s me do the things I do on a computer, but I don’t want to have to worry about the file-system, potential viruses, installing updates to various sub-systems and the like.

I’ve thought about this and this is my situation: I have and iBook and 80%-90% of the time I do the following:

  1. Check email
  2. Surf the internet
  3. Update the blog
  4. Social networking (Twitter, facebook etc)
  5. Use iTunes, and the iLife apps
  6. Use the iWork apps
  7. Play games

The other 20% is:

  1. Rip CD’s & DVD’s
  2. Bring some work home and use the Adobe Apps

I can do all of the first list on the iPad, the 2nd list is something that I haven’t done in ages, the 2nd list I can live without and if I do need it, then the iBook can handle it.

But coming back to the AppleInsider article it seems that Apple really has thought this through. If I create a Pages document on the iPad, it will wirelessly be available to the Pages app on the Mac – it couldn’t be simpler.

No file system, no worries, no hassles. You just get work done and surely that’s what we all have ‘computers’ for isn’t it?

We don’t want to spend time keeping them running, installing updates, configuring them, checking for viruses, and doing anything but creating content?

If using computers means that to you, then like I said – you’re welcome to them. I want an iPad.



  1. JadedConsumer

    Finding files isn’t “magic” … there is some kind of organization even if by such arbitrary means as jumbling them in one big pile for sorting by creation date, last access date, file size, file format, or the name given a file when it was saved. One clue Apple has offered is the apparent ability to scatter stacks of photos for examination. Maybe the desktop of documents will have a more literal metaphor on the iPad, as users literally finger their way through piles of stuff they’ve collected. As long as there’s a quality search tool, this kind of intuitive chaos may be just fine.

    My view on whether the iPad will rock the market turns on whether the iPad can be marketed to people who don’t have a “main computer” to which to synch it. If the iPad can replace a netbook a prospective user is considering as a main computer, then its $500 entry level makes it competitive for all those potential sales.

    The machine has a filesystem regardless what is or is not exposed to users; the iPhone and iPod (even iPod Classic) have filesystems, they are just not exposed to users. The question is how users will interact with the files Apple allows developers to have stored on the local filesystem. The user interface will have enormous impact on how easy it is to find files, share files with nearby machines, and send files to other applications for processing.

    Can you use the iPad to run an overhead presentation using Keynote? If so, and if it doesn’t really NEED a host computer to run and maintain it (e.g., can iPad download and install its own updates?), the market could be quite broad.

  2. Dirk

    When downloading and uploading image files (which you have rarely taken yourself) shares the top position in your 80%-activities-list with checking eMail, the question whether something like a finder is desirable or not maybe answered slightly differently. The approach of havin the apps holding their data is fine for sandboxing but the death to this task, well?

  3. JadedConsumer

    Then imagine you have more than one app that takes pictures, or downloads documents, and you want to upload/share/copy “all the _____” (pictures|presentations|etc). Apps either need to communicate to one another what files they know about, or we’ll end up fishing like crazy for the documents we want.

    For folks who will use iPads as a satellite of the desktop computer, they will still need to be able to find data in a filesystem on at least the desktop … does it help to hide complexity on the portable?

    Do we know whether apps will be able to share files with other apps, or whether they’ll be stuck with the app that imported or created them? If so, an image-editing app would be useless unless it was also the only camera you ever wanted. Since this can’t be what Apple intends, there’s clearly some mechanism for inter-application use of files — and therefore, some mechanism for storing data where other apps can see it.

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