Here is why it took Apple so long to add USB drive support to iOS

Here is why it took Apple so long to add USB drive support to iOS
With iOS 13, Apple is finally catching up with Android when it comes to the ability of the system to connect to external USB drives, so that you can connect that flash drive or SSD directly to your phone and transfer files easily

But what took Apple so long?

This is the exact question that John Gruber, an analyst known for his Daring Fireball blog, asked Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. Federighi explained that the delay was because Apple was working on isolating the file systems from the kernel to protect iOS and iPad OS devices from malicious files:


The lack of an open file system has been one of the biggest criticisms at Apple from Android users and the company is now finally giving users the access they asked for with iOS 13.

Earlier, on stage at WWDC, Federighi said that this is a huge year for Files on iOS and he explained that the list of new features added includes:


- the ability to store files from SD cards, SSD drives and thumb drives directly in the Files app
- the ability to zip and unzip files right in the Files app
- Search Suggestions so you can navigate your files much quicker
- support for keyboard shortcuts

Right now, however, connecting a flash drive or an SSD to your iPhone would require an adapter, as most drives are not compatible with the Lightning connector and instead use USB-C. The only mobile Apple products that feature a USB-C port are the iPad Pro series. So... could all of this also mean that we will get an iPhone with a USB-C connector in the future? That would be lovely, but it's just a speculation and this is not something we realistically expect will happen this year.

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31 Comments

1. adecvat

Posts: 644; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

So, RIP android tablets.

3. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

Android high end is dead for years now. This won't affect sales of media consumption devices in the slightest.

9. sgodsell

Posts: 7431; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

As long as Apple promotes and purposely separates it's iPad apps from its iPhone apps, including on their app store. Then you will never see a foldable iPad. Yet Android and Google encourage developers to make one app that not only scales, but can support tablets as well as smartphones. Yet Android and Google today support a foldable device that can fold in size from a smartphone to a tablet size. Mark my words you will not see that now, especially since Apple has now created a further divide with iPadOS and iOS. The closest thing iPhone users will see to a foldable iPhone will just be a foldable iPhone that will only run iPhone apps, with no iPad apps.

11. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1079; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

You forgot the iPhone 6 Plus, first foldable smartphone on the market

14. surethom

Posts: 1715; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Slightly wrong as apps scale so so so many apps don't work in tablet landscape only portrait, it's all Google's fault they should insist landscape ability.

25. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

I will mark your words under "I don't care for foldable crap", it's a stupid concept that simply does not work (yet ofc.). Android is ready for foldable age for years, there are a ton of different devices running Android, UI was "always" scalable. Android is not the problem why foldables sucks.

29. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Meanwhile Samsung having a hard time selling their phones in China. Well, that’s not new because Samsung has been in decline for many years and your Samsung Fail will never be a solution. Did you know that Microsoft tried to make a table and pc in one, did they succeed? NO. So Samsung now are trying to make 2 n 1 tablet and phone, but right now it failed with your plastic cheap screen.

4. sachouba

Posts: 266; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Which Android tablets? The ones that already have mouse support, a dark theme, a desktop mode and a full Linux OS?

8. sgodsell

Posts: 7431; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The real reason is Apple likes to have control of everything, and nickle and dime it's customers. Plus Apple now has to pay Microsoft and Intel patent fees. Remember Apple still doesn't use USB-C ports on its iPhones, because Apple still controls and makes money from every lightning device, cable, or adapter.

27. TheOracle1

Posts: 2331; Member since: May 04, 2015

Another total piece of laughable bs from Apple.

12. surethom

Posts: 1715; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Not really as for majority it all about ecosystem phone & tablet same so all apps & docs sync better.

2. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

Only a fool would believe this BS.

6. slim3bdo

Posts: 186; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

Or a brainwashed fanboy AKA sheep . Maybe after 10 years they will allow to change the default browser , talk about a tourtle pace developing OS .

5. dumpster666

Posts: 92; Member since: Mar 07, 2019

whatever the reason... this is the end of android tablets....surface will get affected too. Can't wait to get myself one of these beauty.(it'll take year worth of savings)

10. RoryBreaker

Posts: 236; Member since: Oct 11, 2015

Not even close! IOS is still totally locked down and something many have NO interest in! I've been doing all this for a long time already with my Tab S4 with keypad cover, DEX mode takes it next level. iWhatever will always be inferior to me.

26. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

DeX on my Tab S4 is certainly nice, but it's far from perfect. Thou they teased DeX Linux, didn't they?

30. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Goodluck with your tablet apps that sucks, laggy, buggy and not optimized.

31. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

We are not talking iPad Pros here on iOS 10 or 11.

7. vasra

Posts: 130; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

BS. The only reason was maximisation of profit. Apple only added it once iPad sales started to crater.

13. Xxtoxicskittlexx

Posts: 190; Member since: Jun 11, 2018

In other words it means "We ran out of ideas because innovation isn' the apple of our eye. We thought we could add this feature really later down the road to entice customers into our ecosystem but said f it we don't have any more ideas so let's just bake this in now"

15. surethom

Posts: 1715; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Maybe one day if Google even gives a dam Chromebook will become a full tablet that can run all android apps they they would replace android tablets???

16. HumbleJ06

Posts: 98; Member since: Aug 10, 2015

So is the Apple VP of Software Engineering saying it actually took them around 12 years to figure this out? Interesting and disappointing if he believes anyone really believes his explanation.

20. oldskool50 unregistered

All of them are lying dogs.

17. oldskool50 unregistered

That's such BS. I knew that why the file system wasn't open. But they could have partition the storage and locked down the system partition as this is what Android and Windows does already. Yes, they needed ot do this, because if you can gain access ot the system partition via the storage, then it would be easier to jailbreak a device. But this is no excuse as to why this couldn't have been done sooner. The reason they didn't do it is simple. They want to charge you mor emoney to buy devices with more storage and yet youi had no USB access to the empty space. Apple acting liek they couldn't have done this sooner is total BS. On Android, theer are apps like ES Expolorer that can see the system partition and its contents. But it is locked against writing. The simple solution is the write access is blocked with CHMOD and the access can't be changed with admin priviledges to the directory, which can only be achieve through some type of root process. Apple could have did this years ago. The main reason they didn't do it is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Now that they are losing money, they need ot do what they can to bring features to hopefully stave off ship jumpers. But it is too late now. The fact Android had this from day one, and even cheap features phones had this, and the fact Windows and Unix all support this, give Apple zero excuse. Since iOS is based in part off Mac OS X, then this file system protection is already built into the platform. Apple didn't need ot do anythign except bring back the feature by turnign it back on. Even cheap flip phones like the Moto V3 allowed for USB mass Storage where the system which was ROM, ran aside from the internal storage even though it was only a small amount. Apple and their lame stupid petty excuses. anyone who believe this jerk is crazy. iOS according to Apple is the most advanced OS in the world. So how does a feature this simple not have avail for 12 years since iOS 2007? BS!!!!

18. oldskool50 unregistered

IOS won't be able to read drives that don't use FAT/FAT32/exFAT. They won't be able to read EXT or NTFS partitions, just like OSX doesn't now unless you turn on the feature. Just liek Windows does nto directly read EXT or APFS natively. Android doesn't either. But on Android it is much easier to make it mount NTFS and EXT partitions. Apple made $$$$ by charging you to buy more storage. and the fact, in order for the ipad to read FAT/exFAT partitions, they have to pay Microsoft licencing just like Android OEM's do, and Apple doesn't like to license other companies IP, even if they are a direct partner. Which has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. If Apple can't make money off a feature or capability, they don;t want to implement it. It's always been that way. Just like, Mac are used for media creation, so why would they remove sdcard readers from macs when this is how most media creators move data between platforms? because they want to force them to use Thunderbolt option instead because they make money from this. Apple has always hated open standards. You can't make money on open standards, you make money on proprietary BS.

19. oldskool50 unregistered

I wish I was there. as soon as he said that, I would have shout out "that's a lie" Here is a "simple" way to accomplish the same. They can have iOS be able to read and mount APFS. They could have formatted an encrypted the system partition with APFS. If an iPhone has 32GB, they could have formatted 50% and also made it so, the OS can increase the system partition at anytime when needed, taking space away from the second partition on the fly. The second partition could have been formatted FAT/exFAT. But this partition could have been sandboxed to where no content can reach the system partition without access to it directly by Apple. I understand why they did it, because yes if you can put files on the storag and have them access system files, jailbreak would be impossible ot prevent. But a fix for that existed years ago. OSX is the only OS in history where one line of code allowed you to erase the complete system while it is running. Windows in the old days, allowed for users to go into the system directly and delete files. Then later, they made a system backup folder where if you deleted a system file, the system automatically replaced that missing file. Now even though you can see them, you can't delete or replace them while the system is running. In android you can see the system partition and file structure, but you can't write too it unless you have root. IOS use a NIX based platform, which means, you would need root access to write files to the system partition or folder. Apple simple could have prevent root access easily in the OS.

21. Mrmark

Posts: 400; Member since: Jan 26, 2013

That's such a bull donkey story .

22. tangbunna

Posts: 481; Member since: Sep 29, 2016

iDongles and iAdaptors for iApples

24. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1265; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

COURAGE, might be a better answer than this... But GREED is the correct answer anyway... If they give this facility, who will buy their over-priced higher-tier storage devices?? So GREED is the right answer...

28. AlienKiss

Posts: 198; Member since: May 21, 2019

The lack of basic features like USB drive or SD card slot, or having to deal everything through that stupid iTunes made me throw away my iPhone and never look back! If you are a "default" user and all you do is snapping selfies and scroll endlessly on insta, maybe you can live without those features, but to me they are too important to overlook. Sorry Apple, but as a power user, it hurts my brain to use such a restricted os. I have the feeling of being sent to a digital prison. But I guess open-source software is for smart people :))

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