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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dropbox (for Android)

The mobile professional has myriad devices on which files live (laptops, desktops, phones, tablets), which makes having a dependable syncing program a must. Dropbox (Free, 4 stars) fills that role nicely with a dedicated Android tablet app that complements its desktop and mobile phone products. Like those other versions of the free file synchronization application, the Android version of Dropbox features a simple interface, easy uploading, and swift syncing across all devices. Overall, it's an excellent, affordably priced too (you can use it for free if you need 2GB of storage or less) for the business-minded person on the go. You can’t move files among folders, but you can upload multiple files at once and craft TXT files. It’s more than worthy of an Editors' Choice award.
Getting StartedWhen you launch the app, you're taken to a blue home screen where you have to either log in with your existing Dropbox account, or create a new one. I logged in with my previously created credentials, but it was nice to see that I could register from within the app and not only from the Dropbox website. After signing in, I was presented with a "Welcome to Dropbox!" screen that gave me an overview of the app, such as how to view and share files. In this regard it's very much like the Dropbox iPad app.

As Dropbox for Android is tied to your Dropbox Web account, you're bound to a specific storage level: Free accounts are limited to 2GB of storage, Pro 50 receives 50GB of storage for $9.99 per month, Pro 100 gets 100GB of storage for $19.99 per month, and Teams (which supports 5 users) serves up over 350GB per month starting at $795 per year. If you want to add more people to your Teams account, it will cost $125 per person.
The Dropbox for Android ExperienceDropbox for Android differs from Dropbox for iPad (Free, 4 stars) in terms of interface in that all files and folders are displayed in one area in the Android version; the iPad version has a scrollable sidebar that lets you tap a file to open it in the main window. I preferred the Android version's "single screen" approach, as it was less visual clutter. There are other differences—the location of the Favorites, Upload, and Settings icons aren't the same—but those are minor issues.
Placing image files into my PC's Dropbox folder resulted in the files appearing in Dropbox for Android seconds later. I love the service's speed and simplicity. Still, there isn't a notification when new files are synced, which is a vital part of the desktop experience. Because of this, I had to actively check to see if the file went through the desired action, instead of being informed by notifications.
"Favorites" is the area where one can find files that have been favorited by tapping the drop own arrow to the far right of the file name, and then "Favorite." Doing so isn't just a way of highlighting a file's importance, as it lets you access it when the iPad isn't connected to 3G or Wi-Fi—a very handy addition for frequent fliers or commuters who want to fetch vital documents. I had no problem designating files as favorites and then viewing them without an Internet connection.
"Settings" lets you view the amount of storage used, passcode lock the app, unlink the tablet from Dropbox, an clear the cache. It doesn't, unfortunately, contain some of the iPad version's more advanced features, namely selecting the quality of uploaded photos and video (Original, High, Medium, Low), and determining how much local storage you want for favorited files (none, 100MB, 200MB, 500MB, or 1GB). "Uploads" lets you upload files (and multiple files at once!) from your tablet to the online locker.
Sharing is very easy with Dropbox for Android ; simply highlight a file, then tap the link icon in upper-right corner of the home screen. Once that's done, a window opens the that gives you the option to you're provided with an option to "Email Link," "Copy Link," or “Copy Image to Clipboard,” and more.
Should You Download Dropbox (for Android)?If you're looking for an infinitely simple way to keep files in order between your Android tablet, desktop, and phone, Dropbox for Android is a must. It's simple to use, free, and offers offline file access. You still can’t move files among folders, but that's a relatively minor complaint against an otherwise impressive app.

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