Flying Mac announces that FarFinder, the remote file access application for Mac, iPhone and iPad, has been renamed Presence. The new name also marks the release of version 2, bringing major new features.
Presence is a Mac application that provides secure access to the Mac’s files from anywhere on the internet. Access is by web browser from any Mac or PC using a simple, unchanging URL, and by iPhone and iPad using the iOS client.
Internet file access means that users can forget about taking USB drives with them, and because all files are available, there’s no need to choose just a selection of files as with Dropbox and other such services. This is particularly useful for unforeseen requirements and general spontaneity.
Version 2 brings a number of major enhancements:
* The long-awaited iPad-native client is now available.
* Sharing files with others, right from the Mac, brings a new dimension to Presence.
* Presence now provides a bridge between other iOS apps and a remote Mac.
* iPad users get round-trip editing of a Mac’s iWork files, from anywhere.
* EasyConnect opens up Presence to more users in more situations.
Now for iPad as well as iPhone
At last, after many requests from users, Presence runs natively on the iPad. The iPad’s big screen makes for a great experience when browsing through folders, reading documents and looking at photos. Presence’s ability to pass files between a remote Mac and other iOS apps opens up new possibilities for working with files on both iPad and iPhone; more on this below.
Instant sharing, right from the Mac
New in Presence – and also much requested – is the ability to share files with other people by sending them a URL. Unlike cloud-based sharing services, sharing using Presence is instant – there’s no need to wait for files to upload to a server. This makes Presence ideal for sharing large files that are too big to email.
A share can contain multiple files and even whole folders. Additionally, a “browsable” folder can be shared, allowing the recipient to browse a folder directly, viewing and downloading just the files they want.
Presence’s remote access means that shares can be created from anywhere – there is no need to be at the sharing Mac. This, like Presence’s email sending feature, is invaluable if the user is asked for a file while away from the Mac. And while at the Mac, a share is created simply by right-clicking the file in the Finder.
Recipients have access only to the shared files, not to the whole Mac, so privacy is no concern. Sensitive shares can be password-protected if desired.
Gateway to other iOS apps
Presence brings new possibilities to working with files on the iPhone and iPad: it is a bridge between iOS apps and a remote Mac. The remote Mac’s documents and images can be viewed in Presence itself, but Presence can also pass files to other apps that support this.
For example, one might use Presence to access a Mac and pass a PDF to GoodReader in order to use GoodReader’s PDF annotation features, or just because it is the preferred app for reading.
Files can also be transferred in the other direction – from other apps to Presence – and thus saved on the remote Mac.
These file transfers depend on the other app supporting this iOS feature, but Presence can also help when this feature is missing: anything on the clipboard can be saved to the Mac as a file. For example, Hipstamatic doesn’t have a share option, but one can tap and hold a photo to copy it, then switch to Presence and “paste” the photo to the Mac.
iWork round-trip editing
Presence delivers the “holy grail” for iWork users on the iPad: round-trip editing, remotely. The iPad user can open a Pages, Numbers or Keynote file that resides on a remote Mac, make some changes in iWork on the iPad, then save back to the Mac. This has been possible by other methods for tech-savvy users, but Presence makes it easy for everyone.
Apple doesn’t support iOS’s file sharing features in its own apps, so Presence provides this via WebDAV instead. This is done by using a Presence URL like johnsmith.findpresence.com in iWork’s “Copy to WebDAV” and “Copy from WebDAV” features, available in My Documents. Of course, this works from anywhere on the internet.
EasyConnect opens up Presence to more users
Presence’s automatic network configuration means that it “just works” for many home users. However, this isn’t possible on all networks, even home ones – inconsistent standards and poorly-made routers can make automatic configuration impossible, as can the security in workplaces and other non-home locations.
EasyConnect is a new, optional feature to help users in this situation. It is an alternative for users who don’t want to configure routers and modems to work around connection problems, and can also help in workplaces and other institutions where such configuration is impossible. It works by making an outward connection to the Presence server, in a similar way to iChat and Skype.
EasyConnect has a subscription fee of $5 per month per Mac, in addition to Presence’s purchase price. This is to cover additional server costs, ensuring the ongoing viability of the service.
Presence users can continue to use the application without EasyConnect where their network allows it, avoiding the subscription fee; in fact, this is the preferred option. EasyConnect aims to open up Presence to more users, not to gain extra revenue from current users.
More new features
The new version also brings a number of other new features:
* faster loading
* Quick Look
* improved uploads
* resumable downloads
* multiple email accounts
* address book lookup when emailing from the web app
* connecting to shared disks
* spotlight improvements
* raw image preview
* EXIF orientation support
* Growl support
This adds depth to Presence’s existing array of features such as emailing a Mac’s files from anywhere, a slideshow for viewing images and the ability to take a photo through the remote Mac’s iSight camera, as well as the basic functions of file viewing and downloading.
Allowing the Mac to sleep
Apple’s wake-on-demand feature means that many Airport Base Station and Time Capsule users can now allow their Macs to go to sleep; the Mac will wake for Presence access.
This avoids the need to use Energy Saver to prevent the Mac sleeping, although non-Airport users will still need to do this to ensure access. More information is available at http://flyingmac.com/presence/help/sleep.html.
Pricing, availability and requirements
Presence costs $40 for a single-user licence or $70 for a family licence; business pricing is available on request. EasyConnect, if required, costs an additional $5 per month per Mac. The Presence iOS client can be downloaded free of charge from the iOS App Store, and requires a Mac running Presence to connect to.
Upgrading from version 1 (FarFinder) costs $15 for users who purchased before July 2010, and is free for those who purchased after this.
Presence comes with a free 20-day trial period, which includes the ability to use EasyConnect if required.
Presence is available for download exclusively from flyingmac.com, ensuring that customers can try the application before purchase. It is the developer’s opinion that a free trial period is essential for Presence and, in fact, for all software.
Presence requires OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or higher. 10.5 users can use version 1 of Presence, which has fewer features. iOS devices must be running iOS 4.2 or higher.