iPhone Apps mean business

Anthony Caruana
12 August, 2008
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Apple’s built its new-found market strength largely on the cachet it’s been able to build with consumers. However, with the iPhone 3G, Apple is making a push for corporate mindshare. In order for the iPhone 3G to succeed in that space third-party developers need to fill the gaps that Apple has left in the iPhone’s armour. FileMagnet and Stage Hand are two apps that help bridge the gap between consumer toy and business tool.

The iPhone 3G doesn’t run some cut back version of a desktop operating system. Under the sleek facade lies a full version of Apple’s OS X. However Apple, in its wisdom, has locked a few features of the operating system away in order to deliver a secure mobile computer. One of those features is access to the file system. In other words, there’s no easy way to store files for later use on the iPhone.

FileMagnet. FileMagnet is a simple application that lets you copy files to your iPhone. For your $5.99 you get an iPhone application that lets you store and view documents. I tested it with Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and PDFs. All opened without any hassle although support is limited to Microsoft Office documents from older versions. I had no luck opening a .docx file. The developers say that iWork documents can also be opened. It’s worth noting that while viewing documents is supported there’s no editing capability.

Uploading documents via FileMagnet requires that your Mac and iPhone (or iPod touch) are connected to the same WiFi network. This can either be a regular WLAN or an ad hoc (point to point) network between your iPhone and Mac. Both worked equally well in my testing.

Stage Hand. The second string in our iPhone business bow is Stage Hand and its desktop companion Stage Manager. If you use Apple’s Keynote for giving presentations then being able to use your iPhone as a remote control can help you to move freely during your talk and not be tethered to a lectern or podium.

For $9.99 you get Stage Hand — an application that uses WiFi to control a slide show remotely. You’ll need to download the free desktop app Stage Manager. Launching Stage Manager causes Keynote to load as well. You’ll need to open a presentation from the computer but from that point you can start the slideshow from your iPhone and move from slide to slide by dragging a finger across the screen in portrait orientation. Flipping the iPhone to landscape displays the current slide on your iPhone. Dragging a finger across the screen in this mode moves a spotlight over the slide.

Connectivity between the iPhone and Mac is via WiFi and, like FileMagnet, is covered with both Infrastructure and Ad Hoc wireless networks. For slides with several builds, Stage Hand provides a counter next to the slide number on the iPhone display so that you know how many of the builds are completed. However, one feature I’d really like to see in a future release is the ability to see the next slide.

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