First Look: Fliq Docs

In early January, TUAW featured a face-off between Fliq for Mac and Mobile DropCopy. At the time, I noted that Fliq for Mac and Windows was better in terms of moving content created on the iPhone (address cards, notes, photos) to a Mac or Windows PC, while Mobile DropCopy was better for viewing or moving other content such as Microsoft Word documents or PDF files.

About six weeks later, Mark/Space has responded by not only updating Fliq to version 2.0, but also releasing a new free iPhone application called Fliq Docs (click opens iTunes). Fliq Docs requires Fliq 2.0 for Mac or Windows (US$19.95, free upgrade for registered users of Fliq 1.0, or US$9.95 to owners of any Mark/Space Missing Sync application), and is a full-featured document viewing and transfer application for iPhone. Click the Read More link to find out more about Fliq Docs.

Like the previous Mark/Space apps, Fliq, Fliq Tasks, and Fliq Notes, Fliq Docs is free. However, in order to move information between your Mac or Windows PC and your iPhone, you need to purchase the desktop software. To transfer information between iPhones, all you need to do is download the free apps.

Fliq Docs works over a Wi-Fi network. To send documents to an iPhone from a Mac or Windows PC, the Fliq application must be running on the desktop or laptop machine, and Fliq Docs must be running on the iPhone. Fliq will show the name of any iPhone or other machine currently running Fliq or Fliq Docs:

To send a document to the iPhone, you can either simply drag it to the name of the iPhone or other machine, or you can double-click on the device name to open a "what do you want to Fliq" dialog (see below). Note that if you have Fliq Docs open on the iPhone, the only choice available to you from the desktop software is to send documents. To send a note, you must have Fliq Notes opened on the iPhone; to send a task, you must have Fliq Tasks running on the iPhone. To send photos, your business card, or other contact information to an iPhone, you must launch Fliq on the iPhone.

This is my one issue with the Fliq applications at this point: although the iPhone app would be much larger and more complex, I would prefer to see all of the functionality in one application instead of four. As it is, the four current Fliq apps are taking up a lot of real estate on my iPhone screen:

What kind of documents can you view with Fliq Docs? I was able to look at Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, as well as Keynote, Pages, and Numbers documents, PDFs (see below), .mov and .m4v files, to name a few. As you can see, documents can be read in both portrait and landscape orientation by simply tiliting the iPhone.

Plain text files came across nicely, in both .txt and .php script files. I Fliq'd a podcast MP3 file, and it opened with no problems. Many different picture formats, including JPEG and PNG files, worked as well. One interesting thing I noticed with the Apple files (Keynote, Pages, and Numbers) is that they were compressed into zip files before sending, making the file transfer process much faster. On the iPhone, the files were decompressed automatically as the documents opened for viewing.

In just about every case, files were displayed with the proper font. In situations where the iPhone did not have the specific font I was using in a non-PDF document (Myriad Set in a Pages document, for example), a font substitution was made. This caused issues with the layout on the iPhone, but was easily resolved by saving the document as a PDF before transferring it to the iPhone. When documents are first opened on the iPhone, they are surrounded by the orange header and toolbar common to all four Fliq apps. To hide those orange bars, you tap on the document; to bring them back, you tap again. To scroll through documents, or zoom in/out on text or graphics, the common iPhone gestures are used.

Thoughts about Fliq Docs
Fliq Docs was just released last week, so there are very few reviews of the app in the iTunes App Store. Almost all of the few commenters have given Fliq Docs a low rating, which I find highly unfair after reading the comments. They are upset with the $20 cost of the desktop application, not the performance or capability of Fliq Docs. Many of the comments we've seen in earlier reviews of other members of the Fliq family have been shocked at the cost of the desktop application as well. In this respect, Mark/Space might want to consider dropping the price of the desktop application to US$9.99 or so to stem the tide of negative comments.

On the other hand, if you're planning on using Fliq Docs or any of the other Fliq apps simply to send information back and forth to other iPhones, the applications are free of charge. Mark/Space software is high quality, updated often, and unlike many other iPhone developers, Mark/Space actually has a trained support staff. As a result, they may be justified in charging US$19.99 for the desktop software.

As for the functionality of Fliq Docs, I found it to be a well-written and easy-to-use iPhone app that makes file transfer and viewing a pleasure. Reiterating my earlier comment, I'd personally like to see all of the functionality of Fliq, Fliq Notes, Fliq Tasks, and Fliq Docs rolled into one app. Since similar iPhone apps of this type such as AirSharing, File Magnet, and Briefcase commonly sell for US$4.99, perhaps charging for an all-in-one Fliq app could offset the cost of giving away the Mac and Windows desktop application.

If you've had a chance to try out the free Fliq Docs app, leave a comment below to let other TUAW readers know how you like the app.