Unlike most desktop browser, there is no “download” option to save an image, a PDF file, etc., from the Mobile Safari so one can read thoses files offline. Well, this is purely a restriction imposed by Apple for security or whatever other stupid reasons. Fortunately, with the most recent update of the operation that support cut and paste and some third party WebDAV compatible file viewer, there could have a workaround.
I have recently set up a system such that when I found an interesting URL, I can cut and paste the URL to a widget served from my own host such that it will fetch the resource from the URL, and save it to a location that corresponds to the location of a WebDAV service in my web host account. Then, I can setup the WebDAV compatible file viewer (currently, I am using Air Share Pro) to view the file in my WebDAV direcotry. Specially, you can also download the files in the WevDAV server locally for future offline reading. This is extreme useful. Once the file is local, you don’t have to worry if you get wifi, EDGE, or 3G signal, and you might also save some battery power since you don’t have to reload the files from the network when you read a document on and off.
The main caveat is that you probably need your own web hosting service or iDisk that supports WebDAV. Beside that, you will need to some simple CGI/AJAX programming and spend some money to buy a WebDAV compatible file viewer like Air Share Pro. I won’t be surprised that one day there will be an iPhone app that implements something like this using a similar idea in a more polished way. Nevertheless, such application is always at Apple’s mercy. Once Apple opens some policy in the OS allowing sharing data and files between application like an real operation system, all workarounds will be totally useless. Wait, actually, the way I set up getting file to iPhone is not limited for submitting URL from Mobile Safari. Any browser can push the resource from an URL to the WebDAV directory, regradless if an desktop OS supports mounting a WebDAV volumn. Not bad as an quick method to get some useful document in the Internet from a desktop system to iPhone.