Fact of life #157: smartphone file exploration is still a work in progress, especially on Windows Phones. With Microsoft taking its sweet time developing and releasing its own official file manager app for Windows Phone 8.1, the onus has fallen to third-party app makers to capitalize on the functionality's absence and put forth their own substitutes.
Typically, these run the gamut from convoluted to surprisingly simplistic. The relatively new FileEx app for Windows Phone 8.1 lands in the latter category with a satisfactory thump -- in fact, it might just render Microsoft's app aspirations unnecessary.
Dubbing itself "the first real and reliable file explorer for Windows Phone 8.1," FileEx is a straightforward, no-nonsense app with an efficient user interface. The app supports easy browsing through all phone folders (including those found in the SD card) and enables a variety of additional functions like moving, copying, renaming and deleting folders. This can all be done either individually or in batches.
Another perk of FileEx is its ability to share individual files, multiple files, or entire folders. So far, the three provided sharing platforms are Bluetooth, NFC and email, but word from developer Martin Zikmund is that future upgrades will also include cloud sharing compatibility for Dropbox, OneDrive and other platforms.
The app also supports the creation of favorites for frequently accessed folders, and enables users to pin folders or individual files to the phone's main Start screen with transparent tiles.
One minor gripe is the lack of support for ZIP files, but this is something Zikmund says he will address in future updates. Purchasers of FileEx's Premium version -- which removes all ads and is currently available for $0.99 -- have been promised early access to ZIP support and other coming beta features. These will likely include the ability to preview the number of files in folders, as well as the addition of a photo viewer, which will enable users to swipe between images in the same way they'd do on a desktop or laptop running Windows.
For a recently-released app, FileEx is a remarkably versatile and promising offering within a field devoid of standout applications. It's a definite must for any Windows Phone owner who relies on their mobile device for more than just answering calls, texting with pals, and browsing the Internet. You can grab it for free in the Windows Phone Store today.
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