Several weeks ago in the app roundup of the Ausdroid Podcast I mentioned that I’ve been using FX File Explorer Plus. It’s without a doubt the most comprehensive file explorer I’ve discovered for Android yet.
The options for the free version are pretty comprehensive for device management, but it’s when you purchase the “Plus” addon that the app bounces to life. The options with the addon are near endless for data management; document management, direct links to important folders on your device (downloads, music images, videos) and links to the main storage, and storage card if it’s available on your device.
We contacted the developer regarding the design process, and discovered that their requirements were simple in plan but possibly more complex to deliver:
- Hierarchical layout, with the top level being a “home screen” where you can access local files, media, and network locations (rather than just the root directory of the SD card).
- Straightforward navigation, with a “path bar” showing your position in the hierarchy, and providing an easy way to navigate upward through it.
- Multiple window support.
- A means of efficiently selecting items. Back then most file managers just put a checkbox next to each file or required use of a “multiselect mode”.
- A means to manage running tasks (e.g. copy and delete operations) in the background, and to be able to do other things while they’re going on.
- An easy to use and quickly accessible menu system.
From my experience, they’ve done a good job on delivering each of these particularly the comfortable and hierarchial layout for navigation which will be comfortable and familiar to Window and Unix users alike. The UI has come a long way, they even sent us a YouTube link to the original UI design and features demo of the app to demonstrate how far they have come.
What really caught my attention with FX was the ability to connect to networked storage, not only your own physical machines via Samba, FTP, SSH or WebDAV but also to cloud storage such as Box, Dropbox, Skydrive and once the API was opened by Google to allow third party apps; Google Drive.
While the functionality seems fairly simple, as long as you have the bandwidth; the ability to stream video from a server or cloud based storage direct to your device is a real treat if you’re on a break, lonely or just in plain boring company.
If this isn’t enough, there’s a “root features” addon that allows you to access system directories which are blocked in the free and plus featured apps to prevent user error bricking devices (great thinking by the devs there!)[pb-app-list pnames=’nextapp.fx,nextapp.fx.rk,nextapp.fx.rr’ title=’FX File Explorer Suite’ author=’NextApp’ lang=’en’ width=’auto’]
What file manager apps have you used in your travels, let us know your experiences in the comments below