10 years of Documents: From a document reader to a super app for file action

Documents turns 10 this year! A decade ago, we set out with the mission to build upon our file reader, and create a super app for file action. We reworked and refined it, introducing a file manager and an in-app browser, with the ability to organize music, movies and photos. But we didn’t stop there. Year on year we have introduced new capabilities to transform our users lives, from quick sharing and smart suggestions for improved workflows, to VPN and PDF capabilities.

From our humble beginnings to dizzying heights of success, Documents has grown into a super app with 12 million monthly users and close to 100 million downloads worldwide. Now is the time to step back, muse on our progress, and prepare for the next big leap into the future. So join us in celebrating 10 years of Documents, as we take a look back at how the app has changed the way we manage our files.

Looking back

How Documents has evolved

We have come a long way from our humble beginnings as a Safari-based documents reader for the first iPhone in 2007. In fact it wasn’t actually even an app as there was no App Store back then (which launched in 2008). The origin of Documents was actually a web service for the Safari browser called ReaddleDocs — a simple solution that allowed people to get more from their iPhones by viewing and reading documents on it.

A few months after our 2007 launch, Apple invited us to be among the first 100 developers who would build the first applications for the App Store. It remains a Readdle legend as the longest online call in our history — almost 14 days of non-stop coding to meet the deadline and launch ReaddleDocs on the App Store. It’s safe to say we had perfected remote work long before it went mainstream!ReaddleDocs continued to evolve over the years and then in 2013, Documents was officially born.

A lot of significant events have taken place in this journey, many of them revolutionary, shaping Documents into the super app for file action it is today and helping millions to get more from their devices. Although Documents is turning 10 this year, it actually traces its origins back as Readdle’s first ever product for Apple’s platforms.

  • Walt Mossberg from WSJ listed the app as one of his “favorite apps that makes the iPhone worth the price.”
  • We launched ReaddleDocs for iPad without having an iPad in our hands, based simply on leaks and rumors on how this device might have looked.
  • Readdle’s Terra Web Browser, the first browser with tabs on iPad, went on to become a part of our app. It’s a feature that so many of you love — with over 5 million activations a day.
  • ReaddleDocs evolved so much over the years and in 2013, Documents was born.
  • We launched quick file-sharing capabilities such as Wi-Fi Transfer and FileDrop.
  • Smart Suggestions went live, stitching together various features and workflows. Greatly empowering our users, which helps to get more out of Documents and their device.
  • We brought Documents to Macs running Apple Silicon.
  • Documents X went live, which included a redesigned experience, VPN for online privacy with unlimited Internet access and lots more.
  • Most recently, we’ve launched enhanced extensions and an action menu, and so much more.

From a Safari-based documents reader and one of the first apps on the App Store (first 100 developers), we’ve worked hard to build momentum over 10 years to gain popularity and move from MVP into the mainstream. So now, looking forward, what do the next 10 years have in store for us…

Looking forward

Documents’ continues to capture all your files in one place. It doesn’t matter if you downloaded them from a browser, email, messenger, or transferred from a PC. Our ultimate goal is to empower everyone with tools and technology to make their digital life easier. We’re dedicated to this mission and continue to build useful capabilities and improved actions.

We will continue to declutter devices and clear minds. There are over 4 million apps alone on the app store. This means dozens of apps on your device, hundreds of files spread across them, and a huge mental load to manage it all. We created Documents so that everyone could store, manage, and engage with their files in one convenient place — streamlining organization and creating healthier habits with more structured folders.

We are committed to perfecting a delightful user experience for everyone. We allow everyone to have access to Documents, meaning basic capabilities remain free. No hidden fees, no ads — just free. This ensures that Documents is accessible for students in rural areas of China, and at the same time used by the most popular pop group in the world. Our developers put all their effort in every minor detail and are committed to fine-tuning the perfect product, so that it remains intuitive and easy to use for everyone.

While our base functionalities are always free, to get the most out of Documents you can opt for a premium VPN subscription and Documents Plus — which provides an advanced scanner and pro PDF features, including editing, size reduction and conversion.

We want to say thank you to users old and new, for being with us on the 10 year journey, and look forward to the many years to come. We would love to hear your own story of your journey with Documents. Join us on Twitter @DocumentsApp and let us know what you love about Documents!

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