The iPhone doesn’t have a download manager or a user exposed file system. If you’ve come from Android or you’re used to directly downloading files to your PC, or you live in India where people exchange a bazillion files every 30 seconds, this might just be a problem.
While Safari will let you download files, there are some problems with it. Firstly, Safari won’t show a progress bar, so if you’re downloading a 200 MB file on a slow connection, you’re basically praying to the ghost of Steve Jobs that the download doesn’t time out. Plus, once the file is downloaded, you’ll be asked to open it in an app, and then the file belongs to that app’s storage. There’s no centralize download/file management system.
Which is why you really need a fully featured download manager (or rather, a file manager) with you, at all times. A central place where you download all the things – documents, videos, songs – whatever. And a central place to store and manage all those things.
The One True Choice: Documents 5 by Reeadle
Just searching “download manager” on the App Store will bring up a plethora of free and paid options. Most of them look the same, are either poorly coded or are laden with ads.
But we’re above that, so we’re going to skip over all of that scruff and just download Documents 5 by Reeadle. If you’re not aware, Readdle is a development house that creates powerful software for power users. Lucky for you, Documents 5 (unlike their other awesome apps) is totally free and is dripping with productivity features.
Other than an integrated web browser and download manager, Documents features integration with cloud accounts, archiving support, and even media playback. Labnol has a great list post that talks about these features in depth.
So without thinking too much, just download Documents 5. It’s 77 MB.
Downloading with Documents 5
Once you open the app on your iPhone, you’ll see a little browser icon in the bottom toolbar, to the right. Just tap on it or swipe in and you’ll be taken to the web browser.
Now either enter the link of the download page or just type in anything to search on Google.
Once you click a link that’s clearly a download link, Documents will ask you to save the file. Here you can change the name or the destination. Then, tap “Save” and the download will start.
Tap the “Downloads” button in the bottom right corner to see the progress of all the files currently being downloaded.
While the app doesn’t show the exact download speed and a percentage stat, you’ll see a progress bar right behind the file’s name so you have a general idea of how fast the download is, and if the needle is moving or not.
If you stumble upon a PDF or other file that opens up directly in the browser without showing a download prompt, tap the “Save” button next to the URL bar to bring up the download menu.
A Simpler Option: Downloads
From all the one-off download managers on the App Store, I like the one called QWE Downloads by Baulin Roman.
I like it because it’s really simple, easy to use and plus the developer has up the code on GitHub. To me, it says that the developer cares about the app he’s making and isn’t in it just for a quick buck. Oh and the app is free (with ads).
The app will automatically bring up a menu when it detects a download link and the app’s download manager is much more powerful. Showing you the percentage along with the download speed.
You Do Need a File Manager
But again, the reason I’ll advise you to just download Documents is because, at the end of the day, you’re going to want a full-featured file manager to go along with a download manager. To manage and exchange those files.
Documents not only makes it easy to open almost every file type, but sending them to other apps or directly uploading them to Dropbox or Google Drive is also easy. And so is quickly transferring the said downloaded file to another iOS device or a computer (wirelessly).