iOS doesn’t exactly allow for much file browsing, as the file system is pretty locked down, but there are some great apps for management. We love Air Sharing because it supports practically every protocol you’d ever need and works with tons of file types.
- Transfer essentially any kind of file to your iPhone.
- Supports tons of different file transfer protocols, such as WebDAV, FTP, SSH, Dropbox, MobileMe iDisk, HomePipe, FilesAnywhere, and many more.
- Provides a familiar OS X Finder-like browsing experience.
- Easily view PDFs, images, iWork files, RTF files, Microsoft Office documents, and more directly from the app.
- Easily open files in other apps on your iPhone.
- Print files from your iPhone without any additional software.
- Browse ZIP archives without unzipping.
- Email files as attachments.
- Download files from a URL.
- View source code with syntax highlighting.
If you need to get files on your iPhone, Air Sharing is basically the best way to do it. That’s primarily because it provides practically every way imaginable to do it. You can transfer files using just about every file transfer protocol and file-sharing service. It lets you download files directly from URLs so you can add just about anything. While Air Sharing can’t view every file you could open on a computer, it does support a wide variety of document types. Most of the media you’d want to view on your iPhone is supported. The pro version even lets you print directly from your device. Air Sharing was designed to easily get files on your iPhone, view them, and interact with them. It does all of those things exceptionally well.
There’s very little worth complaining about, but you could argue the interface could be a little more compelling. While it feels familiar, as it looks a lot like an OS X Finder window, iOS is known for its beautiful, sweeping animations. Air Sharing’s interface can feel a little dull at times, but that’s hardly a downside in view of the excellent functionality it provides.
Dropbox is free and may be sufficient for users of the service. It can handle viewing documents easily, and transferring a file to your iPhone is as simple as adding it to your Dropbox.
Briefcase ($6.49) is similar in functionality to Air Sharing but costs a little more and doesn’t have as many features. So why mention it? You can easily connect to other iPhones running the app to transfer files between them. If you often share files with your iPhone-wielding friends, this can be a really helpful feature.
There are many other apps with similar feature sets to Air Sharing, but, in our opinion, not quite as well (and often at a higher cost). There are also specialised apps, namely for documents that you read (like GoodReader and ReaddleDocs), but we’re aiming a little broader here. If you’ve got a favourite you love, however, share it in the comments.
Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories, each week with a different focus.