iPad File Management: Coming Soon?

iPad File Management: Coming Soon?

Today’s blog is so short it probably makes sense to read the article rather than the abstract. But in case you’re still in a hurry to drain your latte and make that next unbearable meeting here’s the lowdown on iOS 4 features that should come to the iPad this fall:

  • Folder management on the home screens
  • Drag and drop apps to create folders
  • Folders show push notices from any apps located inside
  • Folders are fully editable
  • They’re also ugly little things
  • No kidding. Ugly. Like hide them in the closet when your boss comes to dinner ugly
  • Should you test it on your iPhone 3G, however, be ready to restore to the original settings, for reasons I will discuss in great detail at the end.

For those of you who haven’t upgraded your phones to iOS 4 yet (or who still insist on keeping your Droid or Blackberry even though you love your iPad), I thought I’d give you a little sneak peak of some of the features in the new OS that should show up on the iPad when the upgrade becomes available. The feature that most excites me will be the ability to manage apps on the iPad home screens.

I have an iPhone 3G and the new system slows the phone down noticeably, and that’s just the first of many problems. The new iPhone 4G shouldn’t take any performance hit since the system was designed with that model in mind.

In iOS 3 and earlier, each app appeared on a series of pages on your home screen. You could move the apps around, but if you carried several dozen apps, you might have to scroll through five or six pages to find the one you needed.

This is a bigger problem on the iPad because I download so many apps for review. An app I loved last week may soon give way to one that I discover is far more functional, so I now have to move both to different pages. Furthermore, if I want to organize my apps by function, they spread out even more. As a result, I have apps I use every day on screen 1, apps that I use a lot on screen 2, games on screens 3 and 4, comic and book readers on screen 5, art apps on 6, music on 7, apps I am reviewing on 8, apps I’m thinking about reviewing on 9 and apps that are pretty much crap but I’m not ready to delete just in case on 10.

As you probably guessed, that’s a lot of pages to scroll through.

With iOS 4, multiple apps can be combined into folders. This will be very useful. On my iPhone I managed to collapse six screens into two. So here’s a taste of what’s to come.

Drag and drop file management

Creating and managing folders is a snap, but it doesn’t at all work like the Mac OS. You can’t create a folder and then drag applications to it. You have to make a folder by dragging two apps together. It seems strange at first but it’s really quite easy.

You activate the screen editor the same way you do in OS 3. Simply press down on the app icon until the small “x” appears in the corner. Once the editing view is active, select one of the apps you want to combine into a folder and drag in on top of an app you want to pair it with.

Press and drag one app on top of another

The two apps will combine into a folder

The two apps immediately open into a new window with the name that iOS 4 thinks best categorizes the pair. You can type a different name or accept the default name. Touch anywhere outside of the folder window and the folder collapses to an icon the size of an app. You can actually see tiny icons representing the two apps (provided your eyes are good enough).

Even better, if the app has any push notices letting you know you have a new call, message or data download, the folder will show the number of notices exactly like the app would have on the home screen.

You can now drag as many as twelve apps to any folder. The twelve app limit has to do with the icon driven interface. Since iOS 4 has no way to scroll down a page, any additional apps would be moved out of sight.

Treat the folder itself like any app. To access the apps inside, simply touch the folder icon and the folder window reopens. Press on any app until the delete marks appear to drag the app from the folder or change the folder name. Press and drag the folder to any page on your home screen.

Folders are fully editable.

With folders, I can carry all my apps on two pages

Other features

I also understand that iOS 4 will create a universal document folder allowing all apps to access any document from the same location. This is supposed to be a feature on the iPhone 4G, but it hasn’t been implemented on my older model so far as I can tell.

On the other hand, with iOS 4 I can customize my iPhone doc the same way I can customize my iPad dock.

My iPhone dock functions exactly like my iPad.

They are ugly little suckers though

For a company that prides itself in product and interface design, I have to admit those folders remind me of a newborn baby just after it’s been slapped around. Parents may not be able to admit it, but grandparents and siblings know what I’m talking about. New borns have red faces, wrinkles everywhere and their heads look like their parents were really Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtain just after they arrived from the planet Remulak.

The folders in iOS 4 look just as ugly, which may be appropriate since they’re newborns too. They look like someone punched a hole in the wall of your home screen and dropped some sprinkles inside. If you can squint hard enough, you might be able to recognize the sprinkles as microscopic app icons.

I get why Apple did it that way. You shouldn’t have to open a folder to see what apps are inside. But, goodness, you just know developers aren’t going to be showing off proud screenshots of the newborns to any one but close relatives who love them anyway.

Should you upgrade now? Jenny Manytoes rates iOS 4

Jenny Manytoes is made biscuits all over my iPhone loaded with iOS 4. If Apple doesn’t bring these features to the iPad, she’ll probably drag it to the litter box or demand that I restore system 3.2.

She lasted in this state of ecstasy for two days. Then the performance hit became noticeable. That was the beginning of the problems. I could email photos from my phone. Carol couldn’t. Then my iPhone locked me out and wouldn’t recognize any of my pass codes. My Apple Genius said, “Oh, yeh, a lot of people have been restoring iOS 3 because of all the problems on the 3G.” Then Carol tried to download weather data on WeatherBug and it all went haywire.

It took me back to a year or so ago when I ripped 10.6 Snow Leopard out of my Mac because even the Apple Geniuses couldn’t get it to print wirelessly with the Canon printer they sold me.

It was like a grand New Year’s party with bathtub booze. The celebration was awesome, but I’m still recovering from the hangover. Even Jenny said, “Trash it, Dad. I want you happy so you can stop yelling at your iPhone and pet me more.”

Carol said, “You too? I restored my iPhone without all the yelling.”

Righteousness can be so irritating sometimes.


The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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