Steve Jobs Hinted At The iOS File System In 2005

| Thursday, June 7th, 2012

You may have wondered once or twice in your life how far back Steve Jobs and Apple started putting the pieces together for the iPhone and the iOS file system, and the answer is: At least seven years, if not more. It probably doesn’t strike anyone as out of the ordinary that the iPhone concept goes back way before we ever heard Apple was working on such a device (my own in-Apple sources say Apple was working hard on the iPhone back in 2000), but telltale comments from Steve Jobs at the 2005 AllThingsD conference tipped Apple’s hand as to what he envisioned for the future of computing:

[quote]in every user interface study we’ve ever done […], [we found] it’s pretty easy to learn how to use these things ‘til you hit the file system and then the learning curve goes vertical. So you ask yourself, why is the file system the face of the OS? Wouldn’t it be better if there was a better way to find stuff?

Now, e-mail, there’s always been a better way to find stuff. You don’t keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes. You don’t keep your music in the file system, that would be crazy. You keep it in this app that knows about music and knows how to find things in lots of different ways. Same with photos: we’ve got an app that knows all about photos. And these apps manage their own file storage. […]

And eventually, the file system management is just gonna be an app for pros and consumers aren’t gonna need to use it.[/quote]

One of the biggest controversies about the iPhone, even five years later, is the lack of a file management system. Unlike Android or the typical PC, you can’t just dig around in an iPhone’s file directory and mess with stuff. As a long-term iOS user, I see this more as a feature than a bug (as per Jobs’ comments, above), but, like a lot of things Jobs said, it works great for 99 percent of the people, 99 percent of the time. That 1 percent of the 1 percent, however, find themselves without an option. While Apple and iOS critics often overplay this card, it’s still a clear and obvious area in which the iPhone isn’t interested in serving your needs.

Source: Ole Begemann

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