Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Net Portal - A Nifty Network File Explorer

I was thinking just the other day that one of the missing features of the iPhone was a proper file explorer as you find on all other computer operating systems. Even on my old PPC (Windows Mobile) there was a file explorer.

I then discovered Net Portal. This provides access to a local directory (not a real file browser but considering the Jobsian restrictions we are subject to not bad) and to network shares. It does provide access via a VPN but this has to be configured and requires some network skills to configure this. I have not tested the app using a VPN. There are two versions of this app., Net Portal Lite which is free and is restricted to viewing PDF and image files and Net Portal which is unrestricted. The full version is AU$3.99.

Using Windows and Samba shares is pretty easy and is a straight forward configuration. You need to have shared directories from your Windows machine or using Samba from your Unix/Linux/Mac host. You can then add a new machine to the Machines page by using the host name or IP address. Once you have set up the host details you then select the host and the list of shares appears. You can then navigate to the file you want to open and if it a supported file type it just opens in the appropriate format. I was playing some music from my Samba share and it worked flawlessly.

Net Portal is one of those utilities that ads basic functions that you would have thought would be included in the basic OS. Indeed, I am a little surprised that this type of utility is allowed considering the stranglehold over the iOS that Apple exerts. I half expect that Apple either remove the app or get the dev to remove some of the features. However, this is a nice little utility that does one thing and does it very well indeed.