Does anyone else miss this in iOS?

The Problem

I bought my iPad 2 at the end of 2011. While I knew that productivity was always going to be a sideshow, whenever I had to use the iPad to communicate with peers it was hard not to notice the absolute lack of document management.

I always cite this example: There is no easy way to attach a document and a pdf on the same mail. You can go into your PDF reader and share the PDF file from there. You can also share a document only from the associated app. But doing both in single mail? Ouch. And it is not a very rare scenario. Such lack of options on a device that I personally see being adopted by a greater number of offices each day is odd.

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with the closed file system in iOS. But what if there was a silo-ed version of a file explorer. Think of the 'Photos' app. Why can't we have a 'Documents' app to manage documents, presentations and spreadsheets? I turns out, we have a solution.

The Solution

Let us start from our initial problem, regarding attachment of files in a mail. This is what the screen looks like when you try to attach a file using Gmail. (to the curious, he's a St. Bernard!)


I propose a simple and elegant solution which fits right in with iOS.


You can now attach documents right from the same dialogue. So how will it look like? Here's how.


Clean. Using the default tabbed layout, this addition to iOS will fit right in. The 'More' tab will allow iOS to silo miscellaneous file types. Eg. Many architects use .dxm files with CAD software on iPad. Such files fit into this category.

Where there's a file..

A very obvious addition after I arrived at this stage of design was a way to manage files. It is at this stage that I mocked up the 'Documents' app. I imagined something very similar to Photos. Again, the uniformity ensures that the design fits right in.


The app will show 'live previews' of text or first slide. I have given small icons to distinguish documents, presentations and spreadsheets from each other. Could I have used extensions? Yes. Would it have fit into the simplicity of the iPad? No.


You can add files to different collections. By default, there will also be a non-editable collection for each file type that exists in your 'Documents' app.


To pull this off, Apple will have to build in viewers into the OS. I cannot imagine a person not being able to open an attachment he received because he doesn't have pages. That doesn't 'just work'. That's not Apple. A read-only solution makes a lot of sense to me, because it will enable a much richer experience.

Just as you can pinch out and open photos, you can pinch out documents, and more of the file will come into view. I will try to mock up a gif to illustrate that later.

Once in the preview, the file can be opened for editing in an app of your choice!

Comment below as to what you think about this.