At WWDC 2012, Apple Senior Vice President of iOS, Scott Forstall, did NOT announce the following:
That would have been the simple, user-friendly, file repository I've been asking for in iOS going on several years now.
And it would solve the current problem of users having to remember which app holds what document. (Or deleting documents b
What Forstall and Apple announced was almost exactly that, but for coupons, tickets, cards, and other forms of vouchers instead. It was Passbook.
Passbook has a lot of the functionality I've been asking for for documents for years, but it's for commerce rather than productivity.
It does show -- once again -- that Apple isn't philosophically against repositories in iOS, and can handle them in a way that's drop-dead simple for iOS users. But it also shows what Apple's current priorities are.
Here's the actual Passbook announcement:
Now, I'm thrilled with the idea of Passbook. The less I have to carry around in my analog wallet, the better. And it's not difficult to imagine the day when PassKit (the framework behind Passbook) layers QR codes behind more advanced systems like RFID/NFC, all tied to iTunes' hundreds of millions of credit cards-strong checkout system.
It's easy to see why Apple gave Passbook that attention as well -- mobile ecommerce is going to be huge. Billions of dollars huge.
File access isn't that goldmine. It's just a point of friction for iOS users.
Having to remember which app you created which document may be an unnecessary cognitive load. Having documents tied to apps, when apps can be removed or replaced from devices with a touch, jiggle, and tap, may not be the kind user experience Apple is famous for. But it's also not a high-order bit for Apple at the moment.
For many users, especially professional and productive users, files and documents are as important as pictures and coupons, maybe more so. But they won't be shared socially, or paid for or redeemed by the masses.
Apple showed they could do simple, user-friendly, flat file repositories back in iPhone 1.0 with Photos.app and the Image picker. For anyone silly enough to doubt it, they've shown us again with iOS 6 and Passbook.
Maybe in a future WWDC we'll see a Files.app and docs picture bullet pointed, and given the same few seconds of attention pull-to-refresh in Mail got this year. Or maybe iCloud's document system will simply evolve into this, automagically surfacing any compatible file type in any app capable of editing it. That would solve 80% of the problem all on its own.
Bottom line, however, Apple has proven once again that they can do repositories and do them well. They've simple chosen not to do so for files. At least not yet.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.