At its core, FileExpert is nothing more than a file manager for Android. However it bears some distinct and useful features which I explore in this review. The stated aims of FileExpert are to be a free file manager that gives its users valuable and useful extensions. It most certainly does.
As you would expect, basic file manipulation methods are all fully supported. You tap and hold a file or folder in the list pane to bring up a multiple choice window. Selecting ‘File Operations’ then lists all the basic ones such as cut, copy, paste, rename etc.
Performing these operations on multiple files at once is permitted; selecting in batches is achieved by ticking multiple files or folders, then pressing Menu > Batch. This brings up the ‘File Operations’ menu again, where you can move or rename files, and even play a selection of music, through the batch method.
Sharing Your Phone
Sharing is probably File Expert’s defining feature. The ability to manage our files over WiFi can be very useful, and it definitely saves on having to plug in our phones. We are all lazy folk at heart so saving effort is always a good thing. Just like Wifi File Explorer and MobileGo, you use this to start remote access daemons on your phone which other machines can connect to.
You can connect to your phone over two protocols: the common File Transfer Protocol (FTP), or what you are using to view this page right now, the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Both can be enabled individually or simultaneously through the ‘Share’ button you can see on the bottom toolbar in the screenshot below, as well as the information you receive when you choose to share.
Here is the HTTP or ‘Web Share’ seen through Chrome. As you can see the interface is both simplistic and minimalistic; this simplicity allows you to use the interface quickly and with minimal fuss.
Here is the FTP method shown through gFTP (Linux only; Windows users can use FileZilla). Though slightly old-fashioned compared to a web interface, FTP does allow batch file transfers in very large quantities, directly to or from your computer.
There are many settings for HTTP or FTP configuration, such as changing user names and passwords, connection ports and so on. These are reachable in FileExpert’s settings menu (Menu > More > Settings).
While hosting a HTTP or FTP share, you can carry on using your phone as you otherwise would by pressing the Home button. An HTTP or FTP icon appears in your notification bar to remind you that the service is still running. You can see it in the screenshots above that are from my phone.
If for whatever reason you are running multiple share sessions, such as both FTP and HTTP, there is a convenient master button to kill all the active sessions. This is reached by pressing the Menu button when running shares.
Sharing Your Computer
The SMB client functionality allows you to remotely access your desktop files from your phone. SMB is a protocol that Windows offers through ‘Shared Folders’, and that Linux offers through compatible applications such as SAMBA. This sharing protocol allows you to share folders over your local network connection. By entering your computer’s IP address and user details, all the files are accessible from your phone. Useful for viewing photos or playing music that isn’t on your phone that doesn’t mandate a transfer. In the screenshots below I access my Linux server from my phone. Pretty neat.
Remember that you must share folders manually; here is a link to get you started http://support.microsoft.com/kb/301281. You should permit sharing on a lone folder which you can put desired content in. Don’t share your whole system like I did in the example!
The toolbar at the bottom of the screen shows five functions which are set by default. However pressing Menu > More > Toolbar Customization allows you to change these icons to do many different things instead. For example I changed ‘Search’ to be the Web Sharing toggle.
For fans of rooting, File Expert allows you to directly view and manipulate your Android system files. This additional feature requires a box to be checked in your settings. Sadly I have been unable to test this myself, since Android 2.2.1 on the Wildfire is unrootable at present.
The ability to unzip and compress archives on your phone is an unusual feature, but not an unwelcome one. If you are somebody who moves files around between your phone and computer regularly, you could batch select and zip them up, then send them as one big file, which may be more convenient for whatever reason.
Like many other file managers, FileExpert pulls in its own picture viewer with it. This file manager is not anything special to be quite honest; there are no fancy transitions or anything like that. You get a selection of thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, and swiping an image left or right instantly displays the next one. It is fully functional and works well, but if you have HTC Sense on your phone, you are probably better sticking to the included Gallery application.
If required, you can search the SD card for keywords or using regular expressions. The regular magnifying symbol on your phone can trigger this ability, or tap the on-screen one. This could come in useful if you need to quickly locate files and haven’t got a computer nearby.
This tool offers you the ability to perform mass-uninstalls or backups. All backups are a simple copy of the application to a folder on your SD card, and the uninstalls are as you would expect. This is handy if you want to clear up your phone without losing key data such as contacts, since you are able to select any of your installed applications at the same time and perform a purge.
The performance of FileExpert is not slow, but nor is it particularly fast. With the amount of background operations it must perform, this is excusable — though the application does have a tendency to hang for a few seconds when you switch to or from it using Android’s multitasking switcher (holding down the Home key).
File Expert claims to have no ads and be free, which I have indeed found to be the case. This pleasant lack of monetary loss causes it to surpass Wifi File Explorer in my opinion, since that application requires a fee to be paid to unlock some of the remote access functions. This one gives you double the amount of protocols for nothing!
To exit the application, you need to press Menu > More, then scroll down to Exit. Seems a bit long winded to me, though it is acceptable since the program does operate constantly as a daemon. Due to acting as a daemon, my phone’s battery life drained sharply during testing, so using this application for extended periods of time is not recommended.
To conclude, File Expert is a handy application focusing on enhancing your phone’s network sharing abilities. Setting up phone-to-computer sharing is easy and effortless, and setting up computer-to-phone does not take much time at all. However it does require basic computer networking knowledge, and people with no experience of folder sharing may find it to be a bit tricky to get working the first time.
I suppose the best part of this application is its two-way sharing ability. Rather than having to view your phone’s files on your computer, you can view your computer’s files on your phone. Something new and interesting for you to experiment with perhaps.
Regarding a rating, I award FileExpert 8/10. It is a good application with several useful features, however there is nothing exceptionally incredible about it, causing the loss of one mark. The other mark was lost when I was unable to quit FileExpert, despite repeatedly pressing Exit, and the phone’s Back key, over and over again. No matter what I did, the application kept restarting and eventually had to be hard-killed, which didn’t impress me.