Following Microsoft’s Build 2017 and Google IO, Apple held its annual WWDC developer conference yesterday. The company unveiled the next major versions of its various software platforms, and iOS 11 was one of the main highlights of the event. That’s right, the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile OS will finally bring a file manager app to iPhones and iPads, something that has been available on Android and Windows phones for years.
The lack of a dedicated file explorer has always been one of the biggest limitations of iOS, which pretty much forces iPhone and iPad owners to use cloud storage services including Microsoft’s excellent OneDrive app. Interestingly, Apple’s new Files app for iOS 11 will let iPhone and iPads users easily manage their local files and other documents stored on Apple’s iCloud service, but it will also integrate with several third-party cloud storage solutions indluding Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
“OneDrive integration with the Files app will make it easier for you to access your content from any Apple device and will provide a better file management experience on iOS for your personal and work OneDrive and SharePoint sites,” explained the Office team yesterday. This new integration won’t replace the dedicated OneDrive iOS app, which already supports many iOS capabilities such as the Share extension, OneDrive for iMessage as well as Apple Pencil and split-screen support on iPads. Microsoft will share more details about OneDrive support for the new Files app when iOS 11 releases in the Fall.
Overall, the new Files app will be a very welcome addition on iOS devices and especially iPads, where it looks very similar to the Finder app on macOS (including support for Tags). It’s good to see Apple playing nice with third-party storage services, but the company didn’t really have a choice if it wants iOS to be taken seriously as a productivity platform.