Features & Use
Test device: Sony Ericsson X8
Android: 2.1 Update 1
ASTRO File Manager is the type of file manager than can be retrofitted with modules. You can choose between two different types of modules. There’s the Bluetooth module: this enables a connection to devices that support Bluetooth and hence display the content of the file manager. You can use the Bluetooth module to move, copy, delete, or rename files. There’s also the SMB Module which enables a network connection between your Android Smartphone and your PC.
The Bluetooth module worked like a charm during the testing period, except that occasionally the Bluetooth connection would capsize without my doing anything. I didn’t test the SMB module and hence won’t be reviewing it.
Both modules can be downloaded for free. The Bluetooth module has its own icon which is visible in the main menu; you can use it change the Bluetooth settings for the ASTRO File Manager.
ASTRO File Manager has more to offer than other file managers. You more or less get a film viewer (ASTRO film viewer), an app manager, and a process manager for free. And if that isn’t enough there’s even a tool for using your SD card.
But the best thing about the app is that it doesn’t cost a thing.
The ASTRO File Manager is a file manager that can be expanded via modules. It come with a bunch of functions that really help set it apart from the rest. You'll find more details regarding these functions below.
Once you’ve downloaded the app you will see the Home menu. You can make changes to this in the settings. You will then be able to see a tool bar (description below).
The main functions
The following functions can be accessed via the tool bar:
- Up – opens the last folder you were using
- Abort – back to the tool bar
- Music - Play or add to playlist
- Zip – Creates a new Zip file
- Search – Opens up a context menu via which you can search for files. You can include when the file was created and its size as search criteria.
- Back – to a folder
- Next – skip to the next folder
- Display – Make changes to the display; choose between icons or lists.
- Sort – Use this symbol to sort files and folders according to name, date, size, or type. You can also determine whether they should be displayed in ascending/descending order.
- Options – In order to access settings, more details below.
- Network – Create and/or manage networks for/via Bluetooth, SMB, or SFTP.
The following functions can be found in the settings:
- Update – Update your directory
- New directory
- Bookmarks – If you press on a directory for a while you can access the options via which you can then add the directory to your bookmarks.
- Appearance and prediction – Starts up the settings, more details below.
Click on the menu button to access the following options:
- Display – As previously mentioned, there's an option that lets you change the app's appearance.
- Edit – Edit files and folders.
- Tools – Access more tools. Re: App-manager, SD card, or Process-Manager: more details below.
- New – Use this symbol to create a new directory or zip file
- Bookmarks - Access your bookmarks
And if all that isn't enough, there's More... which leads you to the settings, where you'll find the search function which allows you to search for and navigate files. You'll also find the Help function here (English only) and the option to end the file manager.
The settings and what they're good for
Let me start off by saying that there are way too many settings options for my liking. I was overwhelmed by the amount of options.
You can alter the app's Look & Feel according to your preferences.
Again, I was slightly put off by the settings as I'm the type of user who looks for functionality rather than wanting to make changes every single setting. That being said, do-it-yourself types may get a big kick out of all these different functions.
The ASTRO image viewer
The image viewer allows you to access and see your app pictures. You can browse folders by swiping your finger across open images. The ASTRO film viewer doesn't have any functions aside from this.
The App-Manager comes with two displays: one for installed applications and one for saved applications. Apps can be displayed in ascending/descending order according to:
The App-Manager displays the version number, date of installations with time, and size of installed apps. One long click on a given app reveals a whole bunch of valid and useful information. What's more is that apps can also directly be started up or un-installed from within the manager, and the menu button links you to the Android Market and the corresponding app.
Apps can be saved individually or in packages.
The process-manager is equally comprehensive and lists all processes and apps. A dialogue window opens up when you click on entry, allowing you to end, open, or ignore an application. The application details yield a mess of information which can, again, come across as somewhat cryptic to less experienced users.
This lists all files and folders and shows their size in relation to the entire memory card. You can also check your memory card's capacity, as well as how much space is still available and what percentage is being used. Files cannot be opened.
ASTRO File Manager requires the following authorizations:
- Deactivate Standby-Mode
- Access running applications
- Start new applications
- Change system settings
- Install shortcuts
- Network communications
- Unrestricted internet access
- Display network status
- Delete/change SD card content
Sometimes less really is more—but that can't be said for the ASTRO File Manager. This app literally provides everything one's little heart could desire, and then some!
Not only is the ASTRO File Manager a simple file manager, its modules for Bluetooth and SMB help set up connections to other smartphones and PCs and then display files saved to external devices.
The image viewers displays images (d'uh), though the app can't be used to edit images.
The process-manager is a great tool which helps you keep track of which processes are currently running; this means that you can also abort processes that are running but aren't necessary, enabling a larger memory capacity.
To top it all off, the app comes with a backup function, meaning you can backup previously installed apps.
A well deserved 5 stars!
Screen & Controls
The app’s multitude of functions comes with a price: ASTRO File Manager is crowded and confusing. I was tempted to give it a three star rating because of how overloaded it is… and using it should feel a lot more intuitive so that inexperienced users can benefit from it without having to rack their brains about how to use ASTRO.
Speed & Stability
ASTRO File Manager doesn’t appear to have any mistakes or bugs, but there were longer loading times (especially for the app manager, the process manager, and creating thumbnails). There were no crashes throughout the testing phase.
So do all of these functions come with a price?, one might ask.
The version which I tested is free of charge, but it does come with ads, and that’s why I’m not awarding it a full five stars in this category.
You can buy a license for 3,99$ in the Android Market. This price for the full version of ASTRO File Manager is completely justified concerning the app’s massive amount of functions—and you then get an ad-free version.