If you work with 20 iPads in a classroom, then you already know that sharing large files between iPads or between iPads and computers comes with some friction and bother.
Sure, there are many ways to transfer content from a student’s iPad to your computer or vice-versa, or from a student’s iPad to another student’s iPad. (AirDrop, Dropbox, Instashare, PhotoTransfer WiFi, Email, etc) but each has its limitations especially if your school’s Wi-Fi is suspect or the internet is slow.
An iBridge device is a new solution and one I received as a present this Christmas. When you plug the iBridge into your computer it behaves just as any USB thumb-drive would. But turn it around and at the other end is an Apple-approved lightning jack that fits into the lighting port on a student’s iPad or any modern iOS device. It’s one of the first USB thumb-drives that works with an iPad and it lets you copy files directly between iOS devices (whether or not they are your own) and computers, without needing Wi-Fi, bluetooth or an internet connection.
In design, the iBridge resembles a USB memory stick .You can either use your device to view the content stored on the iBridge, or transfer files from your phone/ipad to free up some space.
There are in fact a few different external storage options for iOS devices but in my opinion, the iBridge is probably the most elegant. Notably, the iBridge curves back on itself, so when it’s inserted it folds neatly against the back of your device. This makes it much less intrusive than devices that simply stick out of the bottom and you can comfortably hold your phone or iPad with the iBridge attached.
The accompanying app does a good job, with enough features and extras to justify the iBridge’s price tag. There are some limitations, however, but these are intrinsic to iOS rather than any fault with the device itself. In particular, the iBridge won’t be of any use for storing apps or games. The only thing you can use it for is storing music, photos, videos and documents but given that iPads/iPhones only offer limited, non-expandable storage then a device like the iBridge is a worthwhile purchase.
Transferring files from your computer is a very simple affair. There’s no software or additional components required: the iBridge is simply recognized as a standard USB drive. Transferring data to it is a simple case of finding the files you need and dragging or copying them to the drive.
Once your files are on the device, it’s easy to access them. Just connect it to your iPhone or iPad and use the Content Viewer in the iBridge app to play or open your files.
You’ll need to download and install the Leef iBridge app from the App Store in order to use the iBridge. This is a free app and enables all the functionality of the device. The app has three main functions: Transfer Files, Content Viewer and iBridge Camera.
The iBridge Camera offers a simple camera function that allows you to take photos on your iPhone or iPad which are saved directly to the iBridge rather than the internal device memory.
As well as the three main features mentioned above, if you dig into the settings menu you’ll also see an option for backup. This function allows you to back up your photos and contacts, and it’s pretty easy to do: you simply tap Backup, select whether you want to back up your photos, contacts or both, and then simply hit the Backup now button.
Restoring from these backups is simple, and it doesn’t need to be done on the original device. So if you get a new iPhone or want to transfer your data to a different device, you can just open the app and hit the option to restore.
Overall it’s hard to say anything bad about the device itself. It does exactly what it needs to, and it does a good job of it. The real issue is that the problem it solves can generally be fixed in a much better way by using cloud storage. In almost all cases, a cloud service will be cheaper while offering a lot more space and flexibility.
If, however, you don’t have a good broadband or data connection or if offline access to your files is absolutely crucial or if you have 25 iPads to manage at school then the iBridge is about as good as external storage gets for iOS devices.