Since the introduction of the original iPhone, users have missed a feature that could make life a whole lot easier: the ability to use the iPod as a storage device. Users wanting to use the iPhone’s storage beyond iTunes have had jail breaking as their only option, but not all of us want to jailbreak. Most users don’t know about a handy little OS X app called PhoneView that lets iPhone users access these lost-features. They don’t offer a Windows solution right now, but in their FAQ they recommend a Windows app called TouchCopy.
The way PhoneView works is simple: just plug-in your iPhone or iPod Touch to your Mac, close iTunes if it’s open, and then launch PhoneView. It then loads up your data as you call on it, and in the side bar you’re given the following options: Disk, Contacts, Notes, Call Log, Messages, Web, Voicemail, Music, Videos, Audiobooks, Podcasts, Ringtones, Photos, and Voice Memos.
Clicking on any of these options will then let you gain access to whatever kind of media lies under it, so for example, clicking on Music will let you view and retrieve any DRM-free music that you may have on your device. (This is extremely useful if you need to recover your music after a system failure.) PhoneView can do this for any of the options in the sidebar, which came in handy for me personally when I needed to grab an important MMS I had received months ago. I simply launched PhoneView, scrolled through, grabbed the text & picture I needed, and was good to go.
As mentioned earlier, the program even brings back a feature lost from previous iPod devices: The ability to use the device as a storage solution. Clicking on the “Disk” option brings you to a Finder-like interface where users can transfer files to and from the device. The only limitation to is that it doesn’t give you access to the root-folders on the device, only showing you the files you’ve put on their via PhoneView. However, most of the content you would want from the root-folders (like your music & movies) are already available elsewhere in the application.
Overall, PhoneView is an easy and well-built solution for gaining access to your iPhone or iPod Touch’s files without having to jailbreak. As a PhoneView user myself, I can definitely recommend the application whether you need an easy solution to access your device’s files, or a just-incase recovery solution if you ever lose your media. PhoneView is available from Ecamm Network for $19.95 USD. If you’re still unsure about PhoneView, they offer a free-demo which will give you a decent feel for the application before you buy it.