Avoiding the digital abyss

10 08 2010

Our lives are increasingly becoming encompassed in the digital; our memories, events and moments are captured on digital devices, edited on digital devices and stored on digital devices. As a result, we place a heavy reliance on the reliability of the hard drive that we choose to store our photos, videos, music and documents. We are but a fatal error away from loosing everything to the digital abyss. Consequently, people are increasingly using different back up methods to safeguard against the inevitable hard drive failure. One such service, is that of Dropbox, which combines an online and desktop service, with a recently released Application for the iOS platform.

The Basics

Category: Productivity

Last Update: 26th July 2010

Seller: Evenflow Inc

Price: Free

Size: 4.6 mb

Version: 1.2.5

Requires: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1 or later and an account at Dropbox

The Review

The Dropbox App has spawned from the main internet based service, which aims to provide users with a secure area in the cloud for backing up and viewing files. The service provides users with 2 GB of free space and those who need more can purchase up to 1oo GB for a monthly or annual fee. As well as the online service, Dropbox has extended to the desktop, with a client for both Windows and Mac, allowing you to quickly upload, sync and download files with the online account. Linking your Dropbox account with the desktop App, helps extend the functionality of the service, and in turn, the App.

In it’s most basic form, the Dropbox App acts as a front end for users to interact with their files on the service. Rather than go through the browser, the App provides a better user experience that is oriented around input from the iPhone. To achieve this, the App lends much of the infrastructure from the default Apps, such as the side alphabetic scrolling navigation and the photo galleries. The end result, is a simple and plain interface, that is perfectly useable within the context that it is used in.

Like the desktop and the browser iterations of Dropbox, the App mirrors many of same functionality and features. The App uses a data connection to pull down the Dropbox file directory and the files that you have stored online. This will suit the majority of users, since normally files will only be needed temporarily. For more important files, the ‘Favourites’ section allows users to download files onto their iDevice for offline use. Regardless of how you interact with Dropbox files, the App will be able to open most file types, such as documents, photos and videos.

While the Dropbox App may limit the interactions with your files to just opening them, the export feature, allows you to utilise the features and functions of other Apps on your device. A great example of this is with PDF files, which can then be viewed with iBooks, allowing you to highlight, bookmark and look up words contained within the PDF. Another example- photos, which can be saved directly to the camera roll, making them accessible to other Apps on your device.

As well as downloading files, the Dropbox App allows user to upload content, such as pictures and videos from their device to the service. This really helps create a sense of unity between the internet service, the desktop client, and the App, since you can both upload and download from all three services. A user can take a day’s worth of pictures, then upload them directly from the device to the service and then have access to the photos from the browser and the desktop.

The overall service from Dropbox is fairly good, however the free account which gives users 2GB is not as good when compared to other services. Skydrive from Microsoft gives hotmail account holders 25Gb of free space to upload any file type.

Conclusion: Not the most exciting App that’ll be on your iPhone, however it will perform an in-valued service, should something go wrong. The App provides an excellent extension to the existing Dropbox service, in terms of features and functionality. The ability to both upload and download content to the device ensures that not only that your previously stored data is safe, but future data can also be safe, since you can add content to the service. Despite this, I would like Dropbox to increase the free storage space, to bring the product in line, with services such as Skydrive.

Rating:

+ Simple, clean U.I

+ Integrates into the existing service well

+ Allows upload as well as download of files

– More free storage for users

Like Dropbox? – You may like…


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