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Apple's iDisk finally comes to the iPod, iPhone

MobileMe iDisk app finally comes to the iPhone. The app, which lets users access their iDisk storage on the go, was first announced at last month's WWDC.

After more than a month of waiting, Apple has finally brought its MobileMe iDisk application to iPod and iPhone users. Originally announced during Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference in early July, the free iDisk app offers users of Apple's MobileMe service a way to access files they, or their MobileMe contacts have stored on Apple's servers.

Some of the nicer features include being able to view and send any native file types. This includes music, so if you've got a bunch of tracks stored on iDisk, you can stream them from the app. Movies work as well, although they have to be formatted to play on an iPod or iPhone.

Apple says that some files over 20MB won't load, although I successfully managed to get a 198MB MPEG4 movie file to stream in. Things that require downloading, however, such as documents and photos, are capped at 30MB--even when you're on a Wi-Fi connection. The application must first download those types of files to your device before you can even see what they are. This process is made faster by a cache you can adjust to allow for more local storage, all the way up to 200MB. Not included in that cache are audio and video files, which are simply streamed, meaning that you'll need to be on a solid connection for the entire listen or watch.

As nice as the local cache is, it's a long ways off from offering users the chance to manage files locally as some other iPhone storage apps have done. You cannot download anything back to your device from the app, save for photos, which can only be saved using the iPhone's screenshot feature--not the superior copy and paste. There are also no previews before or after you've downloaded something to view locally, which means you better have named your files properly.

I applaud Apple's efforts for giving users a first party way to access their files, it's just too bad it offers so much less than third parties have provided. Besides local file downloading, I would love to see omissions like copy and paste, and quick visual previews offered. It would also be fantastic to let users copy a file from the app into a mail message without having to use the built-in e-mailer, which wraps each file in MobileMe branding.

MobileMe iDisk for the iPhone weighs in at 2.2MB and requires users to have an active subscription to MobileMe, along with an iPod Touch or iPhone running OS 3.0.

The good:
• Lets you quickly access files you have stored on your iDisk in a native application.
• Streams in audio and video, letting you bypass file size restrictions.
• You can view files in portrait and landscape modes.
• Your log-in is saved between sessions, so you don't need to re-enter your user name and password.
•You can view files your friends have stored online if you know their MobileMe user names.

The bad:
• Certain files are capped at 30MB--even over Wi-Fi.
• There are no visual previews of what photos, videos, and docs contain.
• No way to save files for offline viewing. There's a local cache, but as soon as a newer file needs some space, old files are removed.
•Copy and paste doesn't work.