My favorite app for putting files on my iPhone just went Pro! The one thing I never understood is that Apple allowed you to turn on Disk Usage almost since day one with the iPod, but still to this day doesn’t do it with the iPhone. There are plenty of things that would be nice to carry on your extra storage space such as PDFs, presentations in PPT, word and excel files, etc. Yet, for some reason Apple hasn’t seen fit to allow this natively. No worries, there are apps in the App Store that fill this gap. I wrote about the Air Sharing app back in September 2008. I got in when it was first introduced and it was FREE! It was and still is a great solution for putting documents on your iPhone and viewing them while you’re on the go. Basically Air Sharing turns your iPhone into an HTTP file server that you can copy files to and from over your Wi-Fi network.
Air Sharing Pro takes it up a notch (or two)
So what does Air Sharing Pro bring to the table? For one, they beat Apple to the table with access to your MobileMe iDisk. Apple has announced that an iDisk app for the iPhone was coming, but no release date has been given. Granted it will likely be free, but it’s nice to have this feature NOW and with all the other benefits of AirSharing Pro (ASP). ASP now lets you move files around, rename them, copy and delete them. You can even Zip and Unzip files. Although iDisk access is nice, it’s not limited to just MobileMe. You can access any WebDAV server on the internet (including Mac OS X Server). You can also access other Air Sharing users. This is pretty cool because it means that two or more users on the same Wi-Fi network can do peer-to-peer sharing from one device to the next.
Although the thought of printing from my iPhone sounds kinda cool, I can’t think of too many times that I would use this. If I’m at home where my printer is, I would just print from my computer.
File Format support includes: iWork – Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Microsoft Office – Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Web Archives from Safari (take pages to view later), PDF (even password protected ones), RTF, Plain Text, Source Code, Movies, Audio and Images (the same types supported by the iPhone natively).
How does it work?
First off you have to put both your iPhone and computer on the same Wi-Fi network/LAN. Once you’ve done that, you fire up Air Sharing and you’ll notice the address at the bottom of the screen to access it. On the Mac you would go to Connect to Server (Command K) from the Finder and key in that http address. On Windows you would connect by Opening the Start menu and select My Network Places. In the Network Tasks panel in the blue toolbar on the left click Add a Network Place. Select Choose another network location and then click Next.
Enter Air Sharing’s IP address and click Next. The IP address will be in the format http://x.x.x.x:8080 Alternatively, if Bonjour has been connected (e.g. if you have installed Bonjour for Windows, iTunes or Safari), you may enter Air Sharing’s Bonjour address. The advantage of using the Bonjour address is that it will always be the same (unless you change the name of your device),whereas the IP address may change from one day to the next.
Once you connect the Air Sharing directories/iPhone will mount like any other server and you can start copying files to/from it.
One of my favorite uses for this app is to carry my manuals with me for my camera gear.
The Bottom Line
Either Air Sharing or Air Sharing Pro will definitely get the job done. If you need the extra benefits of accessing your iDisk (or other user’s Public Folder) or other internet type disk, printing, emailing, working with ZIP files, etc. then you should definitely check out the Pro version. Here’s a feature comparison for your benefit.
Although Air Sharing Pro is packed with new useful features, there are a couple of things I would like to see improved. First off I had trouble copying larger PDFs to the iPhone with it. Funny, these PDFs copied over with no problem using the original Air Sharing, but seemed to have difficulty with the Pro Version. Speaking of which, I was shocked that the Pro version didn’t access the same directories as the standard version. In other to move my documents over to the Pro version, I had to first copy them back to my computer and then re-copy them back to the iPhone using the Pro version so that the Pro version would see them. i would also like to see the ability to use this over USB 2 for potentially faster copies. While you’re at it, how about Bluetooth access for those times when I’m on Wi-Fi and for the Peer-to-Peer sharing? Also since background processing is not allowed, the app has to stay open while you’re connected. There is a "no sleep" option to prevent your iPhone from sleeping, but if you take a call while the app is running you’ll be disconnected.
Otherwise, Air Sharing and Air Sharing Pro are solid apps that do what they claim to do. Air Sharing and Air Sharing Pro works with both Macs and Windows PCs as well as the iPod touch. Air Sharing is $4.99 and available from the App Store here. Air Sharing Pro is $9.99 and available from the App Store here.