Ecamm shows off PhoneView and Printopia Pro at Macworld|iWorld 2013

We met up with Glen Aspeslagh of Ecamm at Macworld|iWorld 2013 to talk about PhoneView, their iOS device backup and file explorer utility for Mac, and Printopia Pro, their bigger, more enterprise friendly printing software.

PhoneView lets you plug your iOS device into your Mac and do all sorts of amazing things, not only letting you backup every bit of your device, but also explore and extract things like SMS/MMS/iMessages so you can save them or print them out, and copy off game data so you can switch devices without losing your progress.

Printopia lets you use iOS AirPrint with printers that don't come with built-in support. Basically, it takes any printer your Mac can reach, and makes it available to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

Glen and his brother Ken are outstanding at not only finding pain points in the Apple and iOS ecosystems, but on figuring out how it works (or doesn't) and programming software that fixes it.

I keep PhoneView backups of all my devices, just in case of iCloud or iTunes failure, and like I said in the video, I have friends who are still alive only because PhoneView let them save their spouses' game data.

More: Ecamm

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Ecamm shows off PhoneView and Printopia Pro at Macworld|iWorld 2013

3 Comments

Ecamm is awesome sauce. I don't know how many busted iPhones I helped recover stuff from using PhoneView, and having Printopia on my mini saves me from having to shell out for an "AirPrint-compatible" printer.

Phonevu creates a backup of your iDevices so the temp file can grow huge.

1. Unfortunately there is no pref setting to designate the location of this path: it defaults to & is hard-wired to: /var/folders/tempfolder so there is no way to relocate this to another volume where there is lots of room for a 4-10GB temp file. This congestion can create system performance bottlenecks when other apps also are producing their own large temp files (software updates can suck up a few gigs; iTunes sync apps can cause a big bump, etc).

2. There is no ability to turn-off device scan at device connect-time either manually or by auto-sense: thus valuable space for the temp file is consumed on the boot drive — which can prove perilous to system stability when already running in a low-memory situation!

(eg the "low app memory" message can cause one or several or even all apps to be forcibly paused until more drive space is freed up …

(Sadly these days, since apple no longer performs QA on osx, manually purging RAM & the VM swap space -by closing some piggy apps – hey! web bowsers I'm looking at you!- the results of the purge will not always be properly communicated back to the kernel thereby leaving the paused apps frozen permanently in limbo, which in turn requires a forced-quit … and that is a pretty brutal way to re initialize memory, so any app which cant control how / when / where it's temp files are going to be created is somewhat of a hazard!

3. Conversely, when you specifically do want it retain the temp file as an archive, there is no way to permanently save this backup (!) because it is flushed from the temp folder as soon as the messaging data has been archived (its nice to have an alternative to itunes for the dev backup: apple's backup is notoriously opaque & sometimes unreliable).

4. However, even if the user is lucky enough to manually save the temp archive (this requires some pretty adroit timing just after the Snapshot has completed), Phonevu offers no browser to view / edit / restore the contents of the archive — let alone merge the changes (or save only the changes) amongst several saved snapshots …

… Ecamm could have collaborated with other backup utility maestros like CarbonCopyCloner or Superduper to create a plugin architecture so these more exotic forms of archiving that have their own device-centric formats (eg the iTunes & iPhoto libraries, Time Machine libraries, the Phonevu libraries, the DiskTools Directory caching, the DiskCataloguing thumbnails & Spotlight metadata indexes, etc) could be part of a more coherent vendor-neutral archive management platform (since apple is adamantly unwilling to & incapable of delivering plug'n'play anymore).

As it is, each of these islands of vendor-specific archives is only partially complete & completely uninteroperable because each of thee small ISV's refuse to either merge together or else simply co-operate with each other in order to create a true, comprehensive, unified backup platform that delivers on the real-world, nitty-gritty details of the "digital hub" — which like most other vaunted Steve Jobs' concepts was simply orphaned once another shinny idea caught his attention.

Conclusion: It would be nice to see some flexibility about Archive management - but Ecamm isn't particularly keen at listening to or delivering on customer requirements (you can ask for YEARS for a feature but don't hold your breath).