Came across an interesting post today discussing the lack of an accessible file system on the iPhone and now (apparently) the iPad. It concludes with this:
The end result is that regular folks are happier with their computers and that geeks are pissed that Apple has “dumbed down” the computer. Geeks bemoan the lack of the file system in the iPad. When they criticize it for not being a real computer, this is what they’re talking about. Well, so be it.
I’m hoping that devices like the iPad and iPhone contribute to the demise of the visual file system. I think its death in consumer devices will lower the bar for folks who just want to do stuff and get the computer out of the way.
While this may be expected from one in the geek camp, I’m not entirely sure that the lack of a filesystem is an unadulterated Good Thing. I’ll grant that people struggle with the concept– I’ve seen more than one Mac with files stored willy-nilly in the System Folder and elsewhere. However, by tying applications and their data so tightly together you also run the risk of 1) not being able to bring all the tools to bear that you might want to, and 2) not being able to access data, period.
For example, I have discussed getting an iPad with Chandra, who is interested in potentially using it to code video. However, the videos she wants to look at live on a hard drive that may be accessible via the network, but they’re not served up through a web server, which as far as I can tell is going to make them difficult to access on the iPad. Rather than being able to install a video player and bring files to it, she is going to have to find a video player that itself can track down potential files to play, or she’ll have to use the filesystem on a different machine to get the files where the iPad can see it.
Regarding tools, what happens if you create a document in the forthcoming versions of OmniOutliner or OmniGraffle and want to pull those files into iWork? Without a filesystem, how will you be able to get data from one place to another, without each individual application having to provide some kind of “Send to X” method for any and all application that exists?
Of course, my guess is that there will spring up various utilities to provide some level of a filesystem if Apple doesn’t make it accessible to users. In some sense I suppose this is fine, but I suspect there will need to be some level of richer data access on the iPad than what is currently in evidence.