back to article Prisoner of iTunes - the iPad file transfer horror

First the good news - it's light, compact, reasonably capable for typing, and it has enough battery life for you not to be forever worrying about where your next power socket's coming from. These advantages alone are sufficient for me to take the iPad seriously for note-taking and for document viewing and manipulation, and to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit out of date.

    I assume you wrote this last month? Many Apps now support the 'open in' dialogue and more and more are updating to allow direct direct read/write access to cloud services like Dropbox.

    No one is suggesting that the file management capabilities are perfect, but don't make it sound worse than it is.

    1. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: A bit out of date.

      I'm not sure how that's relevant to the gripes that I was covering. But 'open in' isn't one of my favourite features either. Sure, I can open a link in Safari from Twitterific, but then I drop out of Twitterific and lose my place. Fix one problem by creating another, IMO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Its a problem with iWork, more than the Ipad I think.

        I've been using Good Reader, Dropbox and Pages.

        All the files seem to properly have open with "Good Reader" links in Dropbox, and open with "Pages" links. But the Pages program doesn't suport the Open with "Good Reader" option, which would put it back in Good reader at least. (which I could then sync back to my pc may be?)

        All that is needed for a good work flow, would be "Open with - Dropbox" associated with all file types that dropbox can store, and the Open with functionality being in iWork (Pages). It could even be renamed "Send to" rather than Open with. Because thats more accurate.

        OS4 is going to have a file system I expect, lets hope its good?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well you could have mentioned it.

        Is all I'm saying. It is relevant because all you mentioned was iTunes for file management (oh, plus Airshare).

        Ways to manage files on iPad;



        WebDAV shares

        Jailbreak the bugger.

        Again, at risk of being downranked further by the anti Apple hordes, I agree, it's not great for those of us who use it for productivity, however, with Dropbox integration increasing it's working for me. I'm no Apple apologist that's for sure, but I'm liking the device as an all rounder, however I've never come across such a device that polarises opinion so much. As for expensive, I spent £499 in 1998 on the iPad's baby brother twice removed the Casio Cassiopeia E105! ;-)

        I believe the beta of OS 3.2 had a shared folder for Apps to use. Annoyingly it was dropped. I do hope Apple reinstate it but at the moment there are ways beyond being tethered to itunes to manage files on the iPad.

    2. Basic

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      So the solution to lousy inter-app file system access on the iPad is to not use the iPad file system at all and use cloud-based storage instead?

      I like cloud-based as an alternative, especially if I want to sync stuff but that seems a little backwards to me...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In other works pay extra for storage?

      >access to cloud services like Dropbox.

      So you're limited to 2G of storage or have to pay out another 10USD a month? I guess an appropriately priced Apple cloud will fill the gap left by lack of SD card or access to your own filesystem.

      I think the review also glosses over several other far more fundamental failures from IxD perspective by asserting its a useful environment for working on documents in the first place.

      Its supposed raison d'être is usability, but we've been evaluating since shortly after the US release and find this extremely attempt to reinvent the wheel square, rather than drawing on the lessons learned from the last 30 years of surface computing. It seems very research has been done by the designers, which probably also explains why they keep trying to patent concepts which are decades old.

      But don't take my word for it, Jakob Nielsen has been user-testing it also -

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Jakob who?

        Wasn't the most interesting read. Well, bottom line is the users will decide whether this is useful or not. With 2 million and rising there should be plenty of feedback available to 'Jakob' and others.

        Supercharged smartphones, hugely powerful laptops, incredible, portable power, tiny netbooks, unthinkable only a few years ago and at prices that keep dropping. We live in an incredible time of tech development and yet all the geeks can do is turn it into a pissing contest over who can access their files quicker, still believing that because a device doesn't suit them then it must be crap.

      2. Peter H. Coffin
        Jobs Horns

        Pay for cloud storage?

        Remember, earlier Apple devices had perfectly serviceable "lack of filesystem on storage cards" decades ago, so the more I learn about this thing, the more it looks like a Newton with all the nifty parts cut out and the annoyances carefully retained. Even after 35 years, John Sculley continues to influence Apple's design decisions by Steve Jobs refusing to make anything that ever even hints that there was every anything good about the Newton.

  2. Drem

    Not a big iPhone, a big iPod Touch

    This really bugs me, the iPad is not a big iPhone, certainly the non-3g version isn't. Its far far closer to a big iPod Touch.

    1. Doug Glass


      Isn't an iPhone with no phone just an iTouch? If two thingies are equal to a third thingie then is it not the case that the to thingies are equal to themselves? Just sayin'.....

  3. Steve 132
    Jobs Halo

    Renaming files

    In Pages, just go to the documents view, and tap on the name - then you can rename it. I admit it's hardly obvious, but it was bugging me too...

    Also, Documents to Go premium solves some of these issues by giving Save to Dropbox/Mobile Me etc Cloud saving inside the application. Not as elegant a wordprocessing experience as pages, but it shows how it should be done on such a device.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    your desktop computer?

    I like apple and their products, but STILL don't see the point of the iPad, i was starting to think it might be useful for people who want the web but not a computer, as an improvement to viewing the web on their phone... but the author seems to assume that you need a fully fledged mac aswell.

    This only negates the iPad further, how many times do you find it difficult to achieve something on the iPad before you just use your computer in the first place.

    I do sympathise with the author though, having to carry an iPad AND a macbook air would be too much to carry (ease up on the lattes and go to a gym - or try carrying a macbook!!!!).

    Perhaps you wont carry them both as it shows that the iPad is not really the god like device that the common myth seems to suggest?

  5. Select * From Handle

    HAHA fanbois

    firstly im not an apple fan, sorry but i just dont like mac's. i do have an itouch though. when i first herd roumors of the ipad i though nice! a tablet pc great! then i saw it had the itouch style interface and apps through itunes milarcky. i thought to myself its just a big itouch.... but theirs one thing that never dawned on me that made me chuckle when i read this... you NEED to connect it to a mac/pc with ITUNES! hahah so its not realy a tablet pc is it? its just a device. an exspecive divice that you need to falk out another $250+ on a laptop/pc to get working... if you dont already own one. im assuming the ipad with the built in 3G u can setup without a pc or am i wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You can see the ridiculous fanboyism on both sides when illiterate posts like this get the thumbs up....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: Sigh

        What are you on about? Your post isn't illiterate at all and currently no one has up-voted it.


      2. Shakje

        Upvoted him

        just to annoy you.

    2. RichyS


      I can't believe that they allow you on the Internets...

    3. Adam Nealis

      @Select * From Handle - Please enable your spelling checker.

      Macs not mac's. Fanbois don't like that.

      exspecive - Did you type your post on an iPad with the soft keyboard?

  6. NB

    lol crapple

    read this article on my n900 and had a damn good chuckle. I, for one, will never buy an apple product while they remain so horrendously locked down. Personally I like my mobile devices to be able to multitask properly and not waste screen real estate with touchscreen only keyboards. I expect the jobsian fanbois will be out in force to defend this magical and revolutionary waste of space...

    1. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: lol crapple

      Well, as I understand it Nokia does have some previous in the control department, but very little experience of selling 2 million tablet devices in a month or so (au contraire...)

      Apple may well have problems in resolving the iPad's contradictions, but they'll be problems of success, nice ones to have.

  7. D@v3

    A magical and revolutionary product, at an **unbelievable price**

    I spent 5 (yes, 5) whole minutes with one at the weekend, and came to the conclusion that if someone gave me one, I'd probably sell it. I have an iPhone 3g, didnt see the point in upgrading to the 3gs, might go for the new one if it comes out.

    The iPad is to heavy for the physical size of the thing, just didnt feel right in my hands. Every sound that came out the meagre speaker I could feel in my finger tips through the back of the case.

    My favourite thing was that when I showed it to my mum, the first thing she said was , 'yeah, but what does it do'

    (** £430 for an up-scaled iTouch is unbelievable**)

  8. flameresistant

    No Shit Sherlock!

    Very disappointing article John. The device functions as advertised but doesn't conform to your expectations. Ergo you're a prisoner and experiencing horror! A trifle over dramatic I think.

    It would be much more interesting, informative and useful if you wrote about how the device helps you.

    1. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: No Shit Sherlock!

      Ah, you're guessing my expectations. Initially I didn't expect the iPad to be particularly useful to me, but I've found it comes in handy, and I think it has potential.

      The file transfer stuff is however crud, and I don't know where you saw the adverts that said this. I just thought I'd get that out of the way prior to doing an assessment of it as a mobile productivity device. Which is next. Probably.

      1. flameresistant

        Re: No Shit Sherlock!

        "The file transfer stuff is however crud, and I don't know where you saw the adverts that said this."

        I didn't, that was my point. Where did you see it advertised that it should transfer files in conformance with your expectations?

    2. bolccg

      Um, what?

      So, we should only write about the positives of everything? Nice hippy instinct but not terribly helpful. The article had a clear aim and it addressed the aspect it was intending to cover.

    3. Bullseyed

      Re: No Shit Sherlock

      You are assuming the iPad DOES help him... fanboi.

      Also, writing happy stories ignoring all negatives/broken aspects of a near useless product isn't journalism. That's why CNN and most of the American media is a joke... and why many people come here.

      The author is right on.

    4. Kevin Johnston Silver badge


      Perhaps the problem here is not that the report dwells on the negative aspects of the iPad but that it was not possible to make it more interesting, informative and useful to you as there were no areas where the device helped him.

      Just a thought

    5. heyrick Silver badge

      Functions as advertised?

      Real people, who want to get REAL WORK done, will need access to files, and not necessarily with the same apps that created those files. Those who have yet to come across such a problem probably only have their iPad for status, or checking websites.

      The approach the author took was to bounce the files off another machine, arguing with iTunes along the way. Fail much, might I suggest they look at the file import/export/bring options of a Psion 3a?

      But then, a iRep may have implied the truth, that the iPad is a toy [ ], a big glossy expensive tech-laden toy. And those using toys will have no need to access the *real* filing system...

    6. Scott 19
      Thumb Down


      The employeed Apple Troll that joined today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Heyrick misses the point by a mile

        Many, perhaps most, consumer electronic devices are toys.

        Is the iPad being marketed as a replacement for your home/office PC?

        1. Britt Johnston

          marketing is not a use-for guide

          The Apple marketing seems to praise the i-pad as a multicoloured mystery, implying that you too might find it useful.

          How could anyone have a right to be disappointed, based on such a modest strategy?

    7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


      >>It would be much more interesting, informative and useful if you wrote about how the device helps you.

      "Microsoft Showcase: Real Users. Real Stories."

      Please no.

  9. Code Monkey

    iTunes - faugh

    Meanwhile I have been playing with it the HTC Desire last week. After years of having to use iTunes* to keeping an iPod up-to-date, the simple "connect to PC, drag files back and forth, disconnect" routine is a joy. So simple!

    * on Windows - apparently it's better on Mac but I don't care enough to pay out an entire holiday's worth of money to find out

    1. bolccg
      Thumb Up

      ES File Explorer

      Check out ES File Explorer if you haven't already - can access Windows shares remotely.

      I switched from an iPhone 3G to the Desire about a month ago and the extra freedom it gives you is a breath of fresh air. I always got the impression that the iTunes experience on the PC was being made intentionally sub par so as to subtly nudge users towards getting a Mac. Gave my old phone to my fiancée and every time she asks about how you do this or that within Apple's ridiculous limitations it makes me value the Desire more (although the battery life is shocking, alas).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Battery life

        "Gave my old phone to my fiancée and every time she asks about how you do this or that within Apple's ridiculous limitations it makes me value the Desire more (although the battery life is shocking, alas)."

        Yes, but assuming you can find someone who sells them you can swap your HTC battery.

        Sent from my desire.

    2. Doug Glass

      Palm Pre ....

      ... acting as a USB device does the same. Add MediMonkey and consider we got two for a total of $49.95 and you can see my American white toothed grin all the way across the bank's parking lot.

  10. Thomas 4
    IT Angle

    A question for you John

    From what you've described, the file management on the iPad is terrible, which is a major strike against what I was (vaguely) considering one for. How would you rate the iPod Chunky as a means of producing documents, spreadsheets and powerpoint/keynote presentations on the go?

    1. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: A question for you John

      For writing the on-screen keyboard's perfectly usable, and I don't think I'd have a problem doing reasonably large pieces with it. They'd still likely need polishing on a 'proper' computer though. I don't think I'm qualified to comment on Numbers and Keynote, as I don't really do spreadsheets and powerpoint. Numbers comes with a template - just the one, unless I've accidentally deleted the rest - for a running log. What you weigh, how far you ran, time, calories burned. Weird...

      1. My New Handle

        Numbers comes with plenty

        Numbers comes with 26 (sixteen) different templates to choose from. For the life of me I cannot see or imagine how you deleted any of them! There appears to be no way of doing that.

  11. Rogerborg

    What a curious definition of "productivity"

    I still don't get what advantages it has over a £200 EEE PC for producing content. Yes, yes, I get that you're saying that it's a very (very, very) expensive consumption gadget that also happens to allow some content creation, but did I mention that it's very, very, very, VERY expensive?

    Eh, I think I'll wait for the iPad Nano version.

    1. ktabic

      Re: What a curious definition of "productivity"

      > Eh, I think I'll wait for the iPad Nano version.

      I thought that was out already. It's called the iPod Touch. ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Very, very, VERY expensive?

      £500 is not a lot of money.

      And God help anyone 'producing content' on a £200 netbook. I thought people just used those things for checking email and updating their Facebook status?

      1. Captain Thyratron

        Spare a dime, sir?

        "Not a lot of money"? Rich people say the darndest things, I swear...

        I've found that a cheap netbook, by the way, is quite adequate for preparing LaTeX documents. I don't know how well it runs an office suite, but frankly I don't care--it's too much work to get "office software" to produce a document that doesn't look like it was made with some crap office software. The device seems to be able to do a lot, really. I can type something, look at a couple of PDF documents, look at websites, and listen to music--all at the same time, even! To boot, it has a proper keyboard that provides mechanical feedback so I don't have to look at my fingers to type (unlike an iPad), lets me see my filesystem (unlike an iPad), and lets me copy files anywhere I please with no more chicanery than perhaps a remote computer asking me for a password (unlike an iPad).

        Thus, I'm a tad confused as to why iPads, deprived of the aforementioned merits, ought to cost more than £200. They do less than netbooks, yet cost more. I simply cannot make sense of it. There must be something about them that's driving the sales, but I've yet to learn what it is. I seldom see money do things so strange unless there's a religion involved somewhere.

      2. captain veg


        You can think that, if you like. I've got one, and I've no idea what a "Facebook status" might be. Used it to write code, though. Does that count as 'producing content'?


      3. Haku

        Cost != Value

        Yeah cos everyone knows that the more you spend on something the more you can do with it....

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        £200 netbook versus £500 IPad

        Well my netbook was only £150 and is only an eee 701, I have used it for producing documents for a course I have been on, used it to build, run and test an ecommerce website for my wife, used it for downloading and watching BBC programmes on to before syncing them on to an Ipod Nano (borrowed not my own)- using GTKpod.

        For email only I will happily use the stock Linux installation, for other uses I boot from different USB drives and pen drives. I have even been known to install and boot Windows XP on an external drive - A job in itself as Windows XP doesn't want to boot from USB devices. All simply to run and test ITunes for a niece to synch her iPod Nano and now iTouch.

        The answer in the end was that Gtkpod worked better and faster for music and video than iTunes in Windows on exactly the same machine. The problem of course it doesn't give access to the iTunes shop.

        Oh it also has USB, Ethernet and Wifi as standard and with a video cable connectable to a monitor anywhere I take it that has a computer, or I can use remote desktop utilities if screen refresh isn't critical.

        And with my USB external DVD drive I was able to read/repair and write a CD of original demo soundtracks for a musician at a charity I help at that could not be read by any PC they owned that was running Windows.

        Now I'm not a fanboi of any OS, I have made a very good living out of supporting Windows and Mac's in the past. I only have an old PPC Mac at home I was given as I have no need or reason to spend a pile of money on any new Mac. I have 12 Windows/Linux based computers and two servicable Amiga's all at home.

        The eee loses out on screen space compared to this laptop I'm using, The eee fits in my bike leathers inside pocket, this laptop needs it's own case strapping on the back.

        All systems have their advantages and disadvantages be they desktop, laptop, netbook or touch screen tablet. Just as different cars and motorbikes have their own advantages and disadvantage. My 154mph bike gets 43 to the gallon, my 115-8 bike gets 65-70 which one is better? Well it depends what I want to use it for and what compromises I am prepared to make.

        I have an estate car that has had serious loads in it during it's life including a 4 hundred weight bike inside! It's great for loads, family or in the country, it's a pain in the rear in London or cities. think of the petrol station visits being akin to battery recharges on a laptop...

        Jeez even when I go fishing I have different rods for different purposes.

        I personally have no need or desire for an iPad or an iPhone, then again I have no desire for a Ferrari or Porche. But I do accept that others may have desires for those type of objects. They might know and forgive their shortcomings or they could be ignorant of the limitations. As long as those that do want to know before they spend their cash those that don't care because they just want one then it doesn't matter what others say.

      5. M Gale

        Re: Very, very, VERY expensive?

        People were "producing content" just a few short years ago on honking great desktop machines that don't have the power of a modern cheapy netbook. I don't think they had any deity's help.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Fashion Accessories

    Yep, just like flares in the 70's... iPhone, iPad, iPod... whatever! All just fashion accessories for the fanbois to look sewper kewl dood.

    Consider the iPad:

    - wifi connectivity

    - runs apps

    - lets you buy e-books and read them

    - watch movies/listen to music (built in speaker)

    - touchscreen QWERTY keyboard

    - accelerometer

    Hmmm.. No multi-tasking? A nice glossy, reflective screen that necessitates lighting perfection ad. infinitum. Sounds just like an over-priced, big brick version of my not-so-fashonista-non-Apple mobile.

    iShit more like ;)

    1. Michael Brown

      Yawn...It DOES have multitasking

      At least it will have as soon as iPhone OS 4.0 is released (which could well be today). Only the extremely early adopters will have had to wait for multitasking for 3rd party apps for a month or two.

      1. Captain Thyratron

        Oh, what a relief!

        Can someone explain to me why, for a device with significantly more computing horsepower than the average modern-day dishwasher, multitasking should be some optional feature to be tacked on later? Didn't things with a fraction the iPad's computing muscle have this problem nailed down three decades ago?


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