As tablets and other portable devices continue their dominance in the digital world, they have become a significant tool in our research world too. Combine the portable device with one or more cloud-based storage systems and you have most of your research tools and information with you wherever you go. Now, thanks to the updates to Readdle’s Documents [iOS - free] app, you have the ability to access, view and annotate just about any kind of file on your iThings.
This doesn’t mean just PDFs either. You can read ebooks (ePub and FB2 formats) that aren’t locked with digital rights management (DRM) as well as MS Office files. You can view videos in Documents and listen to audio files stored on your device. You can save email attachments and read them in Documents. You can edit text (.txt) files and annotate most others. There’s an internal browser where you can browse the web, save bookmarks, save web pages as Web archive files (great for Scrivener users) and download files to the app’s Documents tab.
All this is amazing enough, but the file management features included in this app are almost mind-blowing. First, you can connect to just about any cloud storage service – iCloud, Dropbox, Box, GoogleDrive, etc. There is also FTP and SFTP support and USB transfer via iTunes’ file sharing function. Best of all, you can connect your device to your computer’s file system via local Wi-Fi. By this I mean, it’s only available within your home when you are connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
In this example, you are looking at the Finder (file manager) app on my Mac displaying the files in the Documents app on my iPad. I can easily copy/paste files to the iPad from my desktop.
The Documents iPhone app has all the functionality of the iPad, but the interface is designed for the smaller screen and reading a letter-sized PDF on the iPhone’s small screen can be a challenge.
Documents is quickly becoming an important component of my mobile research toolbox, giving me the ability to quickly load and unload the documents I want to have with me at the research library, society meeting or conference as well as giving me the ability to download files directly from the web. It didn’t take long to work this app into my daily workflow.