Sanho's iStick bridges iOS/OS X gap to ease file transfer

Transferring files between Apple computers running OS X and mobile devices running iOS could get a whole lot easier thanks to a portable USB flash drive that received Apple approval last week.

The iStick features built-in storage, a USB connector for plugging into an Apple computer and a Lightning connector for plugging into an iPhone or iPad.

That means files can be dumped onto the drive from an Apple or PC laptop or desktop and then played back on an iOS device without having to send them over a network or sync through software like iTunes.

The device was being demonstrated on Tuesday at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

Users move a slider that runs along the center of the drive’s small case to select the desired connector. One direction exposes the USB connector, the other direction exposes the Lightning connector.

The drive is recognized as a USB device by the computer but iPhones and iPads require a companion app that can be downloaded from the App Store and is automatically launched when the drive is connected.

The app contains a media player that’s compatible with a number of different audio, video and image formats. It’s needed because the files on the iStick aren’t actually transferred into the iOS device’s media library—for that, an iTunes sync is still required.

But it is possible to offload them from the iStick to the local storage on the iOS device and play them back locally through the same media player.

The app will also back up the contact database and photos from the device to the iStick.

The iStick was developed by Silicon Valley-based Sanho on the back of a KickStarter campaign that raised just under US$850,000. It was on show at Computex on the booth of PQI, which will distribute it in Taiwan.

In its KickStarter campaign, Sanho said it would offer models from a 8GB at $129 to 128GB model at $399. The products are listed as shipping in August but a PQI spokesman said they could be available as early as July.

Updated on June 4 with a video report from IDG News Service.

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