App Review: Gemini File Manager [for TouchPad] | webOS Nation
 
 

App Review: Gemini File Manager [for TouchPad] 17

by Adam Marks Fri, 22 Jul 2011 12:12 pm EDT

If you were to ask our PreCentral readers for the best File Manager app for webOS, everyone would probably respond with a quick answer of Internalz by Jason Robitaille. Of course, Internalz (and the homebrew Internalz Pro) have really been the only file manager apps available for webOS for the last couple years. That is, until now, with the release of Gemini File Manager by Jack Newcombe of Oma Studios.

Developed specifically for the TouchPad and webOS 3.0, Gemini File Manager is $2.99 in the App Catalog and brings some serious competition to the File Manager space, although it is fair to note that while Internalz is able to run as a full screen Mojo app on the TouchPad, Jason is working on bringing his own TouchPad version of Internalz HD to the catalog in the not to distant future. Regardless, Jason has his work cut out for him because Gemini has a whole lot going for it in terms of functionality and even looks great!

Upon loading up Gemini, you might feel a little overwhelmed and unsure how to actually do anything in the app. Across the top of the screen, you will see a row of buttons (Settings, About, Help, Network), following by a double-paned view of your device's file tree, and finally a bunch of little icons below each of the directory trees. The first thing that I would suggest doing is to tap on that "Help" button on that top of the screen and read through all of the help text that the developer has included here. It will be a bit confusing at first until you start playing around with the app, but only because there is so much to learn and so much to do with the app. Once complete, press the Back button to go back to the main app.

The first thing you need to know what using a file manager app in webOS is that the /media/internal/ directory is the equivalent to what you would see when you plug in your device to a computer and access the USB drive. Unlike Internalz (the app catalog version), Gemeni does allow you access to other systems directories outside of /media/internal, so you do have access to a greater array of webOS's files. However, don't be surprised if some files or directories are missing due to some "jailed" policies of what official app catalogs apps have access to. If you need more complete access to your files via an on-device file manager program, the homebrew Internalz Pro is your only option. But enough about Internalz, let's get back to Gemini.

Each of the file/directory listings on the screen act as an independent viewing experience. On the top of each listing is the current directory name, along with tappable options to sort the listing by name, size or extension (file type). When navigating the file structure, you have 3 modes of how you interact with the files/directory listing, based on the first three icons below each listing. Those icons represent Open mode (folder icon), Selection mode (check mark), and Popup mode (popup menu icon). Open mode is pretty self-explanatory. If you tap on a directory, it will navigate to that directory. If you tap on a file, it will try to open the file if webOS has a default application that knows now to handle that file type. The Popup mode acts very similar to Open, but instead of automatically just opening the file, it gives you a popup to Open, Edit (if available), Rename, Delete, or get Info about the file. If the file is a text file, a text-editor window appears in-app to edit the text, and Info acts similar to the Internalz Info screen to show you some details on the file/directory, allows you to edit Linux permissions and even email the file. In addition, in either Open or Popup mode, there are 3 additional icons below the directory tree that allows to you back-up one directory level, add a new directory, or refresh the current directory.

The final mode option is the Selection mode which is activated by pressing the checkmark icon. This allows you a way to select multiple files or directory within the current directory. From here you can use the icons below the file listing to either copy those files to the directory location shown on the opposite directory pane or to delete them. This is a great way to very quickly copy large files or even whole directories around your device.

The final button below the directory listing is a star button. This represents a bookmark option to add quick links to any directory on your device. Just navigate to the directory you want to bookmark, press the star button and press the "+ Add" option on the bottom of the popup. You then have the option to name the bookmark to whatever you would like. To navigate back to this bookmark, just press the star icon again and you will have the bookmark option immediately available to you on either navigation page.

Up until this point, just about all the functionality we have reviewed is available in both Gemini and Internalz. Some implementations/options may be more extensive in one app vs the other. For example, the text editor in Internalz has a lot more options, such as line-break options, word-wrap toggle, text size options, etc., but copying multiple files is a much easier task in Gemini. And while Internalz has a built in image viewer and more settings around customizing the file explorer experience, Gemini has quite a few tricks up its sleeve as well to set it apart.

First, you are able to search for a file or directory on the device using the text box above the file explorer pane. Just tap on where you see the current directory name and start typing (note that search is CASE sensitive). Type in your search term, press Enter and you will be presented with a search results screen with all results within the existing directory you are in (or any subdirectory beneath it). From there, you will see the full path of the filename with options to open, email or delete the file. I would have liked to see an "open containing directory" option to quickly navigate to it, but the developer said that he does have that on the list for a future enhancement. Either way, having a search feature is a welcome addition to any file manager

While Gemini doesn't have a Photo Viewer like Internalz to load up a single photo, it does have an Image Viewer to quickly scroll through all the images in a given directory. If at least 25% of a directory's files are photo, a little photo icon will appear to the left of the bookmark icon that launches the Image Viewer. Right now, all you can do is look through the pictures. You can't see filenames, you are unable to select, copy or email the files, or really do anything at all. This is a great start to an image viewer, but I really hope that the developer adds additional functionality to this view, as well as lifts that 25% minimum restriction.

Finally, and perhaps the one of the best features of the app, is Cloud storage integration! By tapping on that Network button on top of the screen you will be brought to the Network Manager. Right now, this only includes access to Dropbox accounts, but the developer has already tweeted that Box.net integration will be added shortly (which will work quite well since all TouchPad owners get 50GB of free storage with Box.net) and that he has plans for many other services as well. Once you log into your network account, you will be able to access any given account on the left-side of the screen to bring up another dual-navigation pane. While the left-navigation pane is your on-device listing, the right pane is now your network account. From here, you have same Open and Selection mode icons (no Popup mode here) that will allow you to transfer files to/from your device and cloud storage services with just the tap of a few buttons. One big difference on transferring files when using the Network Manager is that you can only transfer files, not whole directories. This is not an app limitation, but a limitation that the network services apply. So, to transfer a whole directory, you would need to "Back" out of the network manager, create a Directory on your device, go back into Network Manager, navigate to the directory you want to copy, and select each file one-at-a-time in "Selection Mode" before initiating the transfer (a "select all" option would be nice). While it may add a few extra steps to the process, this is still a lot easier than some alternatives to upload your files to a cloud storage service

While Internalz Pro is available for free in Preware and gives you access to some additional areas of your device as compared to Gemini File Manager, I would highly recommend picking this app up for your TouchPad. The search ability and expanding-Network Manager alone make it worth the price of admission. Jack has been working hard to continually improve the app (we have already seen a number of updates just in the last few weeks) and this app is only getting better with time. Jason, the ball is in your court now...how will Internalz HD compare to Gemini File Manager?

 

17 Comments

This looks like really serious stuff. Very nice GUI as well. Excited!

This seems like a really great app.

Network/cloud support? I'm sold!!! THANK YOU!!!!

Does anyone have any status about when the Pre 3 will come to Sprint?

Why do people keep posting this on any article posted on the PreCentral sight? This is getting old. Any news will be in an article and if you look back through the articles (last week) you will see that the Pre 3 is probably not coming to Sprint.

Not an indictment of fred1955, but many of the folks are probably trolls at this point.

Back on topic, I am glad for variety as it shows that there is room for multiple implementations of the same function and users will ultimately have a choice of apps. Very good for WebOS in the long run.

I've been using the app since I first got my tPad and it works very well. I love the dual pane 'Commander' style interface. I also like the ability to launch apps from within the file manager, when touching associated files.

The only thing I don't like about it is that it does not allow file move, only file copy. So if you have a big file, it may take a while for it to copy from one location to another. A move feature would be, of course, much quicker.

I look forward to seeing what Jason has in store as well. Competition is a good thing.

I wonder how long did it take the developer to make the app? Thanks for the app. Esp since this is an ENYO app

It would be great if this supported WEBDAV as a network service. It would be the first app to be able access JungleDisk cloud storage...

I'm impressed.
I'll pick this up when next in front of my TouchPad. Make no mistake though, I'll also pick up Internalz HD by Jason Robitalle when it's released - gotta support the Devs who support us through thick & thin.

The photo viewer looks nice. The no "move" option makes me wonder if it's fully baked tho.

Thanks for the efforts.

http://twitter.com/#!/omastudios/status/95818775374479360

Just so you know I'm listening :-)

For now, when you copy, you'll notice the pane leaves the items that you've copied selected - this is so you can hit the delete button.

I know: more taps = less intuitive, and this doesn't work in Open Mode, just Selection, so fear not as I am treating this as a genuine issue.

Thanks for all the comments, I'll continue to read them for the next week or so, so please feel free to leave more, although if you'd prefer I am contactable via Twitter/Email through the app's Help screen.

Thanks all!

"This is not an app limitation, but a limitation that the network services apply."
I don't think so.

Recursive directory listing and downloading is explicitly forbidden in the Dropbox Developer TOC.

Go see for yourself.

(sooo much spam on PC right now!)

OK - one thing that I think only the playbook can do but I would love to be proved wrong is NAS access....

I'm sure loads of PC users have most of the music and photos on a NAS drive connected to their home Wifi network....

So is there anyway to access these files from the touchpad? I would love to view all my photos from my sofa.

can this be done?

still miss a download link especially for european countries

Looked a lot like Norton Commander at first. Wished Norton Commander does indeed get ported over at this file manager let me down today.

Wanted to manually backup my apps and Gemini just does not shot the pathing, whereas Internalz Pro (which was free) does:

/media/cryptofs/apps/usr/palm/applications

All Gemini sees is:

/media/cryptofs/apps/usr/palm/ with only "services" seen.

Internalz Pro sees an entire list of folders - just no split screen mode to copy & paste a lot quicker!

Norton Commander (Windows) has a lot better file management with networking that can be customized. I like where I can see a Brief display on the split screen panels that shows the Filename & extension, size, last time modified.
The menu below has various menus, but a basic could have View, Edit, Copy, Move, Make Directory, Delete, Sync, Print, Zip / Unzip, & Find.
So wished I knew how to program as I'd take on this feat.

Internals Pro was free, and Gemini is paid for yet has a lot less features. Please update the program to where is can see all the files and folders, even with an option to do so.
Hopefully you'll get a copy of Norton Commander and take the best parts and make this file manager better. Feel like I wasted money on this program since it won't do what I need it to.