Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Compared to the classic 160 gigabyte iPods, the amount of storage in the top of the line iPhone seems no bigger than a gym locker. If you don’t know, the largest size iPhone 4 model you can purchase has just 32GB of available memory space and it’s 64 gigabytes for the iPad and iPod Touch. Throw in a hefty sized collection of MP3 songs, movies or television shows, podcasts, and document files, and you may start to think you’re not getting your money’s worth for these iOS devices.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to expand the memory on these devices or add an external hard drive as you can with your computer. However, as an owner of all three iOS devices, I’ve always purchased the bottom line of each model. I currently use an 8GB iPhone 3G and a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad, and I never long for a larger memory drive. The reason why? Simply put, cloud computing.
The best way to expand the memory on your iOS device, almost like adding an external drive to your computer, is to take advantage of web-based storage services and applications that of course only require a Wi-Fi or 3G connection to access your data.
The following are some suggestions for apps and services you can use with your iOS device to expand its memory, so to speak. If you’re not quite sure about how much memory space you’re using in your device, simply tap the Settings app > General > About. From there, you will get a breakdown of the number of songs, videos, photos, and applications you have on your device, as well as how much memory space you have available.
You can get the same information after connecting your device to your iTunes application.
ZumoCast & Zumo Drive
Songs, movies, and photos probably take up most of the space on Apple”˜s hand-held devices. But unless you travel a lot and have a hard time getting Wi-Fi or 3G access, you shouldn’t have to import hundreds of songs or movie files on your device. With a free web-streaming program and app called Zumocast, you can have access to all the media content on your computer from anywhere via Wi-Fi or 3G. This application is like adding unlimited storage space – as you would an external drive to your computer – to your mobile device. See Justin’s MUO article on how to set up and use Zumocast.
Now if you concerned about having to leave your computer on in order to access your data files, you can useinstead to upload data to the ZumoDrive server where it can be accessed for free. This cloud storage service and app adds up to 2GB of storage space to your device. To find out more about the differences between ZumoCast and ZumoDrive, check out this .
Dropbox & Evernote
I would imagine all savvy computer users know about Dropbox and Evernote, but I meet iPhone users all the time who don’t have a clue about theses web-based storage services and apps. With a Dropbox account, it’s like adding up to 2 gigabytes of storage to your mobile device. You can selectively store any kind of media, including audio and movie files, and you can retrieve your stored content via a free Dropbox app (iTunes Store link) on your device. Dropbox is like having an Home folder on your computer.
With the latest version of the Dropbox app, when you select and star individual files, you can access them offline.
In addition, Dropbox allows you to export say a PDF or Word file to another supported application on your device. This way, you’re only adding content to your device when you need it. All your other content stays in your cloud account on Dropbox’s server.
Evernote works pretty much the same way as Dropbox, though it’s limited to text, image, and voice recording files. ï»¿With an Evernote account and app (iTunes Store link), you can add up 25MB of data per month for free and access it also through your mobile device.
Google & Picasa Album
If you need more space on your iOS device for photos, you can use Google’s Picasa Web Album service and Google Mobile application (iTunes Store link). Though this service and app is web-based, requiring Wi-Fi and 3G access, it’s like adding 1GB of external storage space to your mobile device. This option is not robust as Evernote and Dropbox, but it”˜s very useful for when you would like to have access to particular files without bothering to physically add them to your device.
There are of course paid options for expanding the storage capacity of the above services and apps. Apple”˜s own $99/year MobileMe cloud service would enable you to access up to 20GB of file storage via your mobile device.
While none of these options get you near the 160 gigabytes of space on a classic iPod, they do keep you from having to weigh down your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad device with files you don’t regularly use but would like to have access to when needed. Cloud apps and services also mean you don’t have to make a wired connection to your device in order to access or store media files.
Lastly, with Apples latest iOS 4.0 update, your mobile devices can make Bluetooth connections to your computer, Bluetooth speaker devices and AppleTV, which provides you with additional ways to access media without eating up memory.
So what do you think about the memory capacity of your Apple hand-held hardware? Are you always running out of space? How do you deal with storage capacity issues? We would like to know.