Sadly, Apple has chosen to keep the iPhone/Touch devices ‘closed’ which hinders file transfer to and from the device. In fact, they have ordered the removal of USB file transfer abiliity in several apps including Stanza and Air Sharing. Fortunately, users can still sync files via several popular protocols including WebDAV, FTP, email, and syncing to a third party server such as Google Docs. In this post I will discuss two apps that I use and like, however I have tried about five and I’m sure there are a few that I missed.
Air Sharing was an early (September 2008) entry into this arena. Currently the basic version that supports WebDAV is priced at $2.99 and a $6.99 upgrade adds print (to a wireless network printer) and email capabilities. Unfortunately, there seems to be a bug in Ubuntu that is preventing the setup of wireless printing. Once installed, Air Sharing will play or display all file types synced to it and supported by the iPhone platform. I have successfully synced a 350MB movie file and played it.
WebDAV is a file transfer protocol natively supported in both the GNOME and KDE desktops. The iPhone/Touch app will report its assigned IP address on the local network. Typically this will look something like http://192.168.1.101:8080. A GNOME user will go to Places>Connect to Server… and enter the IP and Port into the indicated fields. Depending on the app either a window will open or a folder will appear on the desktop. Files can now be synced to the device via drag and drop. Similarly, KDE users can use Konquerer to open “webdav://192.168.1.101:8080. With documents available locally, printing locally is possible despite the Ubuntu bug.
GoodReader is priced at 99 cents. The basic version supports WebDAV and email and like Air Sharing it will display/play all or most file types. A 99 cent upgrade adds the ability to sync with Google Docs. Again, the printing problem is solved. GoodReader has a free Lite version that will let you try all features before purchase. It is limited to five files. Another upgrade will add FTP ability if you prefer that protocol.
In combination, all the above apps provide you with an office suite for your iPhone/Touch. They will also work on the soon to come iPad. Apple has promised an office suite for the iPad. I can only wonder about what abilities that app will add.