The thumb drive, which raised $1.1 million on Kickstarter, features a slider that allows users to switch between a standard USB connector and a Lightning connector that plugs into an iPhone 5/5s or a recent iPad model. Inside the plastic housing is a flash memory module offering 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of storage space.
While the iStick is automatically recognized by computers as a USB storage device, the iOS file system requires users to install an app to manage files. On the iOS side, you can use the USB stick to transfer files or play them directly from the connected thumb drive.
Recode's Walt Mossberg recently tested a pre-production model and found that device transfer files as advertised, but it is not as easy to use as a basic USB thumb drive.
In my tests, iStick file transfers worked between a variety of devices, including an iPhone 5s, an iPad mini, an iPad Air, a Mac and a Windows laptop. I was able to move and use files ranging from pictures, songs and videos to Microsoft Office files and PDFs — in both directions. [...]The iStick is made by Sanho, which also produces the popular Hyper charging accessories. When it is available for retail sale, pricing for the iStick will start at $129 for the 8GB model and climb to $399 for 128GB, although Kickstarter backers who got in early were able to receive significant discounts on that pricing. The relatively high pricing is said to be related to Apple's Lightning licensing fees and its strict quality requirements.
The cumbersome part comes in when you want to use a file transferred to the iStick local storage area with another app on your iOS device, and it’s due to the way iOS manages files, not an issue with the iStick itself. Unlike on a computer, iOS devices don’t have a visible, system-wide file system. Instead, files that can be used by an app can only be fully used, beyond just viewing them, via that app.