updated 03:02 pm EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
How well does the new on-device file repository work in practice?
There are a few file storage apps for iOS devices, and they've been around since the beginning of the platform. Each one does things a little differently. Earlier today, Pocket Drive (and Pocket Drive+) was released to the world, an app that - instead of using iTunes file sharing to move files -- mounts the iOS device that the app is installed on as a file share on a user's computer, allowing for file movement across a local network, separate from iTunes. How well does this Pocket Drive + work in practice?
Our first gripe with the app is the lack of a universal version. Pocket Drive+ is a $5 app, for either iPhone or iPad -- not both. We'd really like this to be universal, and can't think of a compelling reason why its not. This is a relatively minor quibble, however. Buy the right version for your device, and you're good to go.
We examined the iPhone version of the app. The app features a nice interface, clean and legible. A swipe to the left brings up a file search panel. A quick tap of the + button launches the DHCP network client, set for public access. The same button invokes file management, as well as a pocket browser, to migrate files to the app that might be stored on the web.
Our second gripe comes with the Wi-Fi transfer speeds to the app. We moved five mixed-media files, consisting of three small text files, a 31MB recording of a Skype call, and a 91MB movie trailer. All five files moved fine, but the overall transfer took well over three minutes to complete, 3:22 to be precise. This comes out to 634 kilobytes per second, well short of 802.11n speeds.
We initially thought that this might be because of our congested network, so we moved the app and a connecting computer to a separate router to re-run the test. Same five files, exactly the same transfer speed. We've swapped routers, computers, and iOS devices in a few different permutations, with the same transfer speed results, regardless of combination.
Further narrowing the speed problem, we downloaded a file from the Internet from the Dropbox app. It moved data at nearly 2.8 megabytes per second, more than four times faster than the Wi-Fi local network speeds on the Pocket Drive+ app. So, the limitation isn't the iOS itself, but we really honestly didn't think it was.
All this considered, there is no other logical explanation but slow app speeds. This is a shame -- Pocket Drive+ reads nearly any file, the interface is a joy to use on the iPhone, and the Wi-Fi network client nature makes it very convenient to move apps to an iPad for consumption, an ability we like very much. We've reached out to the developer, and are seeing if there's an update or some other fix in the works to rectify the transfer speed on this $5 app. We'll update this post in the future if things improve.
Who is Pocket Drive+ for: If transfer speed isn't an issue, anybody who wants a quick way to move files to an iPad without using iTunes or helper apps.
Who is Pocket Drive+ not for: Anybody bothered by glacial file transfer speeds.