VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Avatron Software's founder, Dave Howell, a former Apple software engineering manager, and his team of Mac OS X programmers have spent the past several months fine-tuning their recently released Air Sharing Pro -- the second incarnation of their original file-sharing app, Air Sharing, which was downloaded by more than 1 million users in fall 2008.
"We wanted to pick up where the original left off, expand our flagship platform and really give users a truer, more powerful mobile computing device in the iPhone -- especially when combined with all the other great productivity apps out there for users," Howell said.
Howell said Air Sharing Pro gives iPhone and iPod touch users the comprehensive, desktop-like ability to access, view, e-mail, print, store and manage documents -- including large PDFs and high-resolution images -- as well as zip/unzip files, including password-protected ones.
The app also gives users the functionality found in the original: the ability to view everyday files, including videos and music, and use their phones as wireless hard drives or thumb drives to transfer and carry documents.
Users of Air Sharing Pro wirelessly connect their handheld devices to their computers as an external drive and drag and drop documents between the machines.
The release of the original Air Sharing preceded a "pretty big surge" in the number of file-related programs developed for the App Store, Howell said.
"Each of them does something well," Howell said. "With our Pro version, we tried to give people all the functionality they typically want and just make sure we took the time to build out the technology to support most end-user scenarios. It's our humble opinion that no single app matches Pro's functional breadth or its attention to detail -- let alone both."
Howell said that there are several distinctions between Air Sharing Pro and most other file-sharing apps:
Howell added that Air Sharing Pro gives users -- including small businesses, enterprises and consumers -- the ability to access remote file servers and "easily perform any number of daily tasks off-site to save time and improve their everyday workflows -- or be more productive."
- Printing to Any Shared Printer -- using Printer Sharing on Mac OS X 10.5 or Linux without requiring any special desktop software.
- E-Mailing Large Documents -- uploads documents up to 100 MB to a drop.io server and mails a link to doc., rather than as attachment, which limits size.
- PDF Viewer -- handles large PDFs that crash Mail, Safari and many third-party apps; supports table of contents; shows thumbnails; go-to page and password-protected PDFs.
- Image Viewer -- handles very high-resolution images that crash the Photos app and most third-party apps.
- Encrypted/Secure iDisk Access -- Mac OS X's Finder offers unencrypted HTTP access to its iDisk; Pro implements a secure encrypted HTTPS connection to iDisk and any other WebDAV server that supports it, which required approval by the federal government. Viewing iWork '09 Documents, including Safari and Mail -- if saved with Preview.
- Auto-Detection of Foreign Text Encodings -- Pro performs sophisticated linguistic analysis of text files to detect language and deduce the character encoding, without users knowing and then specifying the encoding.
iPhone users have downloaded the Air Sharing platform to remotely view and share -- with colleagues, clients and friends -- documents such as presentations, legal files, recipes, marketing collateral, travel itineraries, lesson plans, lecture notes and work portfolios, Howell said.
Wise Man, Inc., a San Diego-based design-and-build company, has been using Air Sharing to share job-related PDF documents among its 15-person team -- a capability that's "priceless," according to the firm's CEO and president, Jason Miller. Prior to the iPhone and Air Sharing, Miller said his team shared hard copies after finding that "laptops were too cumbersome and the connections were too unreliable."
"It's one thing to look at efficiency through the cost savings, but another when considering the level of frustration in the construction industry and how it relates to employee morale," Miller said. "Anything I can do to create a format that makes my staff's lives a lot easier and less stressful becomes the name of the game. It's the small things that keep employees happy, which reflects in customer satisfaction and increased profit margins."
Avatron's Air Sharing Pro is available in the App Store for $9.99.
"And, of course, we're always at work developing, so we'll be launching more interesting apps in the near future here -- stay tuned," Howell said.