Tuesday, 1 November 2011

FileSlick: Android file manager with an eye on looks

There are a couple of good file managers for Android, and a few bad ones too. ES File Explorer is a good file manager, X-plore is pretty good but has a horrible user interface.

Looks and roots

FileSlick is a new file manager which cares a lot about its looks. The first entry in its settings screen is a theme browser, which should give you an idea of its vanity. You can give it a makeover with those themes, and you should because the default theme (text on an image of stones) is a bit of a distraction when you're out to play with your files and folders.

The last entry on the settings screen lets you disable FileSlicks ads without paying. A nice touch, but if you run an app like AdAway or AdFree it doesn't really matter. When you switch off the ads FileSlick pops up a screen asking for a donation (and again everytime you open the settings screen). Whether you put some coins in the tip jar or not is up to you.

Speaking of tip jars: there used to be a time when playing with your system files and folders required paying for Root Explorer. Those days are long gone, because now there are plenty of free file managers with root access. FileSlick is no exception. Tap "root access" in the "Places" menu and you go straight into the guts of your phone. Unfortunately the method to mount files and folders to do something with them is quite counterintuitive, and it doesn't always work. When I tried to rename the files in system/media/audio FileSlick claimed success in a but didn't do anything. You'd expect better from the maker of z4root.

Files and swipes

FileSlick couldn't find any apps to play my mp3s and movies, even though my phone has media players aplenty. As for other file formats, it couldn't find an app to open PDFs (even though I've got Adobe Reader and OfficeSuite Pro on my phone). DOC and XLS worked, PPT did not. Finding out which app can open what format is a hit and miss affair.

FileSlick is not all about looks. Feel counts too, with an emphasis on swiping. Tapping files and folders selects them, opening them requires a swipe, long-tapping doesn't do anything. You'll probably find yourself tapping files and folders and then find them highlighted instead of opened, at least until you get used to the FileSlick way. There's no way to customise the behaviour of taps, long-taps and swipes. I would set swipe to select, tap to open, long-tap to launch the actions menu. You would probably choose something different, so a bit more choice in the settings would be welcome. Maybe in a next version?

In addition to managing files on your phone, FileSlick talks to FTP servers and Samba shares. It also lets you share files over bluetooth, but receiving them is another story. FileSlick is not as full featured as ES File Explorer or FileExpert, but it looks a lot better. Looks are not everything, though. Especially when it's your job to manage files. For all practical purposes FileSlick is still a beta test version with rough edges, but with some extra features and more ways to customise the behaviour of the app it might mature into something useful.

FileSlick (Android Market)
FileSlick (xda forum)

The competition:
ES File Explorer
File Expert (Android Market)

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