IPhone gets file storage muscle -- without Apple's help

Ecamm Network has started shipping iPhoneDrive

A third-party vendor has already unveiled software that adds storage capabilities to Apple's popular iPhone mobile device.

When the iPhone began shipping to US customers late last month, some users were disappointed that the mobile phone lacked support for Apple's popular iPod Disk Mode feature, which would allow the product to be used as a portable storage device.

To fix that issue, Ecamm Network has started shipping iPhoneDrive, which promises to make basic parts of the iPhone's missing storage functionality a reality.

The iPhoneDrive software provides a Finder window Mac OS 10 interface, which shows the full content of an iPhone in a column view and allows any file to be easily moved back and fourth between an iPod and a Macintosh desktop, said Glen Aspeslagh, co-founder of Ecamm.

The software allows files and folders to be copied from a Macintosh system to an iPhone by either dragging from a desktop or a Finder window into the software's browser, or by accessing a "Copy To iPhone" tool bar feature, Aspeslagh said. The software can also be used to send files from an iPhone to a desktop system, he said.

Aspeslagh noted that the iPhone software does not allow third-party vendors to enable access or viewing of the stored files directly from the iPhone. Currently, that can only be accomplished via Apple's iTunes and sync architecture, he added.

"I think one of common things is people expected [iPhoneDrive] to access the files from the iPhone system, but it's just a no-go because we're not changing the capability of the iPhone OS, that's pretty closed off," said Aspeslagh. "This is simply a desktop companion."

Future versions of iPhoneDrive will add noticeably missing features, such as the ability to move around files on the iPhone and to rename files on the device, he said.

Aspeslagh said a Microsoft Windows version of the tool is the next logical step for the company, but acknowledged that Ecamm developers "are not Windows experts by any stretch."

The iPhoneDrive can also enable the iPhone to act as a makeshift USB thumb drive or external hard drive by taking advantage of an iPhone's available flash memory space to store data, Aspeslagh said.

The iPhoneDrive software is priced at US$9.95.

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Brian Fonseca

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