For all of the conveniences that it offers, there are aspects to the iPhone that Apple has simply not thought through – case in point: email attachment handling. I made the switch from Android to iOS a little over six months ago and half of the fun has been figuring out how to do things that I took for granted on my old phone. You would think that downloading and resending an attachment would be a relatively simple task… sadly, it involves some significant workarounds. Attachments.me significantly simplifies the process and is a useful (free) addition to any road warrior’s tool kit.
In my work as a medical editor, I deal with quite a lot of documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint files. Tethering allows me to do this from virtually anywhere, but I found myself in a situation the other day where I was not able to take out my computer. It was time to figure out a simple and effective method for handling these files. There are some round about methods that involve messing around with iTunes so that attachments appear as books – but I did not want to deal with any of that. My iPhone is not jailbroken, so anything on Cydia was not an option. So I searched, and somewhere on the third or fourth page of results, I came across Attachments.me.
Attachments.me is, without a doubt, the best workaround I have seen to date for handling email attachments in iOS – and it works its magic without actually downloading any of the attachments in question to your phone. The application plugs into your Gmail account and a cloud drive of your choice (as long as it is DropBox, Box, SkyDrive or Google Drive). Once plugged in, Attachments.me scours your inbox for emails with attachments. You can then go through and select which of those attachments you want to store on your cloud drive and Attachments.me transfers them across. From there, you can share the attachment with whomever you wish.
The thing that I loved most about Attachments.me was the ability to set up rules for automatic actions. The rules can be as complex or as simple as you wish, but use them sparingly: as a free member you only get two. Personally, I found the rule system a little clunky for a number of reasons:
1. It is not easy to tell when the rules have been applied.
2. It does not list spreadsheets or presentations as file types.
3. Free users can only have two rules.
4. Free users are only able to move up to 75 attachments – making it easy to run out of operations unless your rules are really tight.
For these reasons, I ended up deleting the rules that I created.
As a free app, Attachments.me is nothing short of outstanding. I found it a little buggy in some areas. There were a couple of instances where I was hit with error messages even though files had properly transferred, which meant that I ended up with duplicates in the folder – annoying but not a huge deal. I also ended up with a duplicate of rule, which meant that I was hit with an error message when I tried to create another one – a relatively trivial issue when the application is free.
As a paid app, things are a little different. The premium version costs $9 a month, for which you get unlimited usage and 25GB of storage, but for which one would expect to see a little more polish on some of those rough edges. At $9 a month, I expect an application to be seamless.
As a free app, Attachments.me is pretty good; as a paid app, not so much. One of these days, Apple will provide us with a proper solution for attachments – until that time, Attachments.me is a great workaround. While I wish that the free accounts were a little less limited, the 75 attachment limit ought to be more than enough to cover emergencies. While it seems more of a stopgap than an actual solution, it gets the job done and is definitely worth a download.
Price: Free / $9 per month