iOS 11 hit the digital streets this week and iPad users are rejoicing over some ancient technology that Apple decided might be useful in the present. Way back at the turn of the century, back when Apple debuted OS X, we found the Dock.
Dock? Every Mac user knows the Dock is where you store applications, files, and folders of files. It’s been around for many years, updated occasionally, and love it or hate it, the Dock is familiar. The Dock now runs on iPads with iOS 11. Wait. There’s more.
Files As Finder
The Mac’s Finder– the app that lets you scour the Mac’s file hierarchy in search of apps, files, or folders– is a time honored application that dates back to the Mac’s very earliest days. Love it or hate it, the Finder is well known and likely used by every Mac user every day.
The Finder has come to iPad and iPhone in the form of the new Files app. Take a look at how Files and the Dock look on my iPad Pro.
What is not to like here?
See the Dock at the bottom of the iPad Pro screenshot? It can hold up to 15 different applications, plus recent apps that are not in the Dock. The Files app above the Dock lets you view files and folders on iCloud Drive, plus files and folders you save on your iPad (but not everywhere, as you can on the Mac).
Wait. There’s more.
The Files app can list favorite and tags, recently deleted items in the trash can, but also files from Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Box, and other cloud services. Files within iCloud Drive or on your iPad or other cloud service can be viewed within Files, so it acts much like a very simple Finder.
How are these new features for iPhone and iPad not inspired by the Mac’s Finder and Dock?
Now, for what it’s worth, both Dock and Files apps take a bit of getting used to for iPad and iPhone users. They’re not as feature laden as their Mac counterparts and there are restrictions. It’s not point and click, of course, but it’s also not as drag and drop as you would expect. You’ll use menus to move files from one location to another but it’s not exactly a difficult proposition.
I know why Apple limits file access to the rest of iOS’s hierarchy and why applications are sandboxed. Still, there is no reason Files for iOS cannot gain features we Mac users have enjoyed for a few decades.
The iOS Dock and Files app are a good start.