No iCloud Drive on iOS? No problem


For quite a while, AudioStretch has been able to open audio files that are not in an iOS device’s Music library via the “Open In…” mechanism. For example, I can open the Dropbox app, choose an mp3, then click on the “Action” icon, choose “Open In…” then choose AudioStretch from the list of compatible apps that appears. After a second or two, the file opens up in AudioStretch.

I find this really handy for keeping a small selection of test files that I don’t want to have cluttering up my Music library, e.g. brief excerpts of various types of music, sine tones, etc.

Now that iOS 10.10 (aka Yosemite) and iOS 8 are out, I thought I’d try iCloud Drive instead. So I dragged a few audio files into iCloud Drive on my Mac, which is really easy, as iCloud Drive is nicely integrated with the Finder (as is Dropbox).

I figured I’d then open up Apple’s iCloud Drive app on my iPhone, choose one of the files, and use “Open In…” just like I do with Dropbox. Problem: Apple, rather incredibly, doesn’t have a iCloud Drive app!

With iOS 8, it’s now possible for an app to access files you put in iCloud Drive, but only if the app has been set up to do so. Specifically, it needs to use the UIDocumentMenuViewController class. I’m experimenting with it right now in my AudioStretch app. Works well, but before I can ship this feature, I have to figure out where to add yet another button to the UI, test it thoroughly, submit it to the app store, etc. which means it’ll be easily several weeks before it’s deployed.

In the meantime, there’s a stop gap measure: the Cloud Grab app. Ridiculously simple app: it just shows the documents you have in iCloud, and allows you to “Grab” and “Use” them (via Open In) in other apps. For $0.99 it was a no-brainer for me to buy it.

Seems a little crazy that Apple didn’t provide something like this out of the box, but hey, the developer of Cloud Grab was smart enough to spot this gap, so good on him! That’s entrepreneurship: spotting some little niche and filling it fast.

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About Gerry Beauregard

I'm a Singapore-based Canadian software engineer, inventor, musician, and occasional triathlete. My current work and projects mainly involve audio technology for the web and iOS. I'm the author of AudioStretch, an audio time-stretching/pitch-shifting app for musicians. Past jobs have included writing speech recognition software for Apple, creating automatic video editing software for muvee, and designing ASICs for Nortel. I hold a Bachelor of Applied Science (Electrical Engineering) from Queen's University and a Master of Arts in Electroacoustic Music from Dartmouth College.
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