Despite all the bad press, not to mention my frustration early on, I’m actually rather happy with the way in which Apple’s MobileMe has evolved. Overall, the process of syncing works well and allows me to have my most up to date PIM information no matter where I am and no matter what device I am using. That, combined with BackToMyMac, one of the best features of Leopard and MobileMe, means I have everything with me no matter where I am.
One of the many things I have been hoping for as part of an iPhone update has been the ability to use BackToMyMac and/or MobileMe’s iDisk on the iPhone. That would turn the iPhone into an easy to use extension of your desktop. Numerous applications have already allowed remote file access, but two recent additions to the App Store are particularly noteworthy. When used in conjunction with one another, they bring "back to my Mac" access to the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The first application is called Briefcase. Briefcase allows you to quickly and easily access the entire file structure of your Mac both on a local network and remotely via 3G. The first time you start the application you need to input your Mac log-in information. Once that is done, your iPhone literally becomes a Finder Window displaying all of the files and file structure of your computer. For example, I can now see the home folder, the desktop, or any other folder or file on my iMac. With a quick tap on the iphone screen, the file is transfered to my iPhone or Touch and ready to be acessed. It works quickly and easily and I have found the app to be quite stable.
I should mention however, that while Briefcase should be able to open documents formatted for Pages, I found this to be a bit flaky.
The "Files" tab at the bottom of the screen allows you to view those files that you’ve actually pulled from your computer onto the handheld device. The "Activities" tab shows you what, if any, files are currently being loaded onto the handheld. The "Settings" tab gives you the option to browse either the home directory or the various volumes that are on your computer. You can even toggle the hidden files on and off.
Among the things that make this particular application special is the fact that it works quickly, is very stable, and handles many different file types. Moreover, as is the case with many of the other file handlers, you can pull images, sound files, and video files from your Mac to your handheld.
Briefcase works quite well on both the local network and over 3G. One noticeable downside is the need for the computer being accessed to be turned on. (That is where the second app comes in…)
You can get it HERE in the App Store. $4.99
The second application, A.I.Disk showed up just today. It rounds out the "BackToMyMac" experience by allowing access to any and all files that are stored on iDisk. Obviously that means you need a subsctiption to MobileMe which includes a fairly sizable allotment of Cloud storage, or one of the other supported cloud storage options such as Box.net. You can also use the app to access other people’s public iDisk folders.
Once you’ve entered your user information, the application makes access to your iDisk-stored files quick and easy. I was able to see all of my files and access them with ease. Navigation was simple and I found the program to be an excellent way to quickly and easily access any of my files. Best of all, unlike Briefcase, which requires my computer actually be turned on, this application allows me to access my iDisk which is always on. With A.I.Disk, so long as I have an Internet connection, I always have all my files.
At first I was frustrated by the application, because it seemed I had to input my user information each and every time I log onto the application. As it turned out however, that that is not the case, so long as I first set a security pass key under the "settings" tab. Once that was done, I had no issue accessing any and all of my files.
This is an incredibly useful and powerful application that I have been waiting for. If you use iDisk or Box.net it is well worth the $7.99.
You can get it HERE in the App Store.
Either, or both of these applications work exceptionally well. When used together they replicate the back to my Mac experience fantastically well. Using either one, however, can be an effective way to access your files on the go as well. It’s great to see developers introducing new applications in this genre that are faster, more stable, and even easier to use.