On Friday May 2, Joe Belfiore, VP in the Windows Phone team participated in a reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). There were several good questions and more importantly, several good answers there. One of the revelations from the AMA was an upcoming File Manager app for Windows Phone 8.1.
The app’s existence, and the fact that it should hopefully land in the Store around the end of May, was revealed by Belfiore in response to a question about file management on the phone. In fact, in his response, he mentioned that it is a highly requested feature and that he was glad to announce that the app is coming.
WOO HOO! SOMEONE ASKED THIS QUESTION!! I’ve been waiting! in fact, I’ve avoided tweeting on this very topic just for all you redditors. Seriously.
in fact– you GET A CORTANA T-SHIRT FOR ASKING!! :) (PM me your size and we’ll get it to you.)
*** YES *** We are doing a File Manager for WP8.1! I know a LOT of you are looking for this (thanks for the tweets, I’ve read them all). In fact, I’ve been running a build of it on two of my phones for the last week or so and it’s getting to pretty good shape.
Here’s what it looks like: http://imgur.com/a/hvqGD#nRuOFXp
We are expecting to get it into the store HOPEFULLY by the end of May.
Some screenshots that he linked to:
The app by itself is nothing special. All the functionality that you expect from a file management application seems to exist. The design is quite consistent with the Windows Phone design language, with the large tiles for folders and the large names of files making them easy touch targets.
However, my first reaction was of disbelief, that there were in fact many requests for such an app:
Folks getting excited over a FILE MANAGER app for a PHONE? Ugh. That’s so low on *my* priority list. How about actionable notifications?
— Romit Mehta (@TheRomit) May 2, 2014
An interesting use case though, was brought up by Belfiore himself, on twitter (and the last screenshot above shows this use case in action):
— joebelfiore (@joebelfiore) May 2, 2014
Right, so normal users shouldn’t and wouldn’t care about managing files on the phone. However, Windows Phone supports external storage and with Windows Phone 8.1, even apps can be installed on the external storage. With microSD card storage capacities going up and the push to lower cost of phones making on-board storage minimal, it may very well be that most Windows Phone users will need a way to move files back and forth between the device storage and external storage.
Hence, this app deserves the attention it has apparently got. However, it is a good sign that Microsoft is pushing all such functionality to apps and making several things possible as a result: make it optional for customers to use this app or not; make it easy for Microsoft to update the app based on features and functionality requested by the customers; keep the OS size smaller so that phones will low on-board storage don’t end up using much of it for the OS itself, and not have to wait until the next version of OS to deliver this functionality.
I like the fact that Belfiore chose to reveal this app on reddit. I suspect most of the requests for such an app would have come from the “power users”, and those are the type of users who would be on reddit to hear what he may have to say.
My phone (Lumia 920) does not have external storage so this app is not for me yet. I may get one of the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 devices and if they have expandability, I will most surely get an external card and will need this app. Looking forward to it regardless.