This remote file explorer app made it into the Marketplace in late January but a new version (SE – Free for a Limited Time) was released on Feb 10th with some new functionality that’s worth noting. Easy File Hub connects to; Dropbox, Google Docs and includes a Local Web Server. This tool enhances the Simple Web Server that was introduced shortly after the release of WP7, which allows you to view your PC folders through IE on your phone. After installing the Web Server client (478KB) you can connect your phone to any PC over WiFi. Additionally, you can connect to your Dropbox and Google Docs accounts after entering your credentials. Each portal is controlled independently so you can connect to Dropbox, for example, while your PC is turned off. The three portals can be connected automatically within settings but the default is “off”.
Navigating the portals is simple enough, but each has it’s own benefits and limitations. Google Docs allows you to browse documents, spreadsheets and JPG’s with the built-in viewer. If you add the file to the Favorites folder it will be saved to your device for offline viewing. With the Dropbox portal you can navigate your folders and view any; TXT, PNG, or JPG file, or Office and HTM files provided they are in your Public folder. Same as Google Docs, the Office file will only be saved to your device if your put it into the Favorites folder or do a Save As while it’s opened. But there’s more. Any audio file (mp3) or video file (MP4, WMV) can be streamed to your device provided the file is in the Dropbox Public folder. Very nice indeed. Trying to access these media files as well as Office files through your Private folders brings up an error message. But for music files Easy File Hub has a workaround. They created a mini music player that will launch if you tap and hold a folder (Public or Private) and then tap “Play Folder”. If the folder contains MP3’s they will begin to buffer and eventually start playing. In some instances it took nearly a minute for a song to start and if I tapped next song, there was another long wait for the selection. By contrast, playing individual songs from the Public folder buffers much faster through the Zune player. There are no folder navigation tools in this app, so you would need a Dropbox app like Pocket Files on your phone to move a media file from a Private to Public folder if you were out and about but wanted to stream a file.
The Local Server connection opens quickly and displays all of your available drives. You can navigate to any folder and view PNG, JPG, HTM, TXT or Office files. You can also stream any song (MP3) or do the Play Folder trick described. I was a bit disappointed as Local Server only recognized WMV files (no MPG or MP4) and brought some gibberish up on the screen when I tried to stream them. As this works so well with Dropbox maybe the developer can easily add this functionality which would be a very good thing. The app is still a little buggy and kicks out the occasional error message but overall I was satisfied with what I can do with this. While the Google Docs and Dropbox access has merit I still don’t quite get the Local Server thing, aside from the, “hey, look what I can do value”. I mean you are within 100ft of your PC and it has to be turned on, so while not just get off the couch and use the PC to open a file, play some music or view a video.
UPDATE: Just heard back from the developer (only took 30 minutes) and next week they plan to release a new version with support for: WMV, 3GP, 3G2, M4V and MP4 along with a fully functional built-in video player.