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Phoneview 2.2.4 review

Verdict:

Phoneview offers a way to dig deep into your iPhone's insides.

Review Date: 17 Sep 2009

Price when reviewed: (about £12)

Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

Apple would rather that you didn't go rummaging around inside your iPhone or iPod touch's file system; that's why it designed integration with iTunes the way it did.

The idea is that you tell your Mac what to sync to the phone, and it takes care of the rest.

Phoneview is an application for people who find those rules too restrictive. Plug your iPhone into your Mac and Phoneview displays the device's contents in an iTunes-like window, with sources listed on the left.

These sources are divided into two types: data and media. Data includes your contacts, text notes, call logs, SMS message archive, and web browsing history and bookmarks. Media includes all the stuff you normally use iTunes to manage such as music and photos.

The first obvious feature is file copying. Any file can be copied from the phone to the local hard disk. Not just songs, but notes, contacts and text messages. Here's where Phoneview comes in handy. Apple doesn't provide any means of exporting things like your texts; if there's something invaluable among them, the only means of keeping it is to re-write the text yourself elsewhere. Phoneview makes it possible to save all your messages as text files, or select several messages and export them to one file.

The same applies to your phone call logs, contacts and pretty much everything else. Phoneview peels off all the protective wrapping Apple has placed around it all, opening it up for your inspection.

This might sound liberating, and it's fine as long as you know what you're doing. The problem with programs like Phoneview is that they give you the power to do things you may wish you hadn't. You may, for example, delete files you'd rather have kept. So if you use Phoneview, it's important to have a good backup stashed away somewhere first.

One key feature is data storage. In Disk mode, any file from your Mac can be dragged in and copied to the device. It won't be visible there, but will at least be backed up. And if you run Phoneview on multiple computers, this feature turns the phone into a means of transferring files between them.

Access to the iPhone's Notes feature means you can add notes with a bit more typographic flair than the ones created on the device itself. Phoneview's Notes editor gives you access to all the standard font, colour and style controls found in rich text editing applications like TextEdit.

Perhaps its best feature is that it opens up your devices to Macs they're not synced with. You don't even need to have iTunes installed. The Phoneview licence is per person and not per machine, so you can use it on all your computers. It frees up your iPhone data anywhere you need it.

If backups of text messages and call logs matter to you; or if using your iPhone or iPod touch as a portable storage between Macs sounds like a useful feature, then it's worth buying. Phoneview only does a few things, but it does them well.

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