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DLS Review: Dropbox for Android, now you have access to your cloud storage wherever you go

Note: Dropbox for BlackBerry was released today -- and an updated version for iOS was also released. This is a review for the Android version, but I believe all three are functionally very similar.

Using Dropbox on a mobile device is an odd amalgam of emerging technologies. On the one hand you have the cloud --and everyone loves the flexibility that the cloud brings -- but on the other, when you're on the move, head hunkered over your smartphone, do you really need access to anything other than documents?

Having said that, there are certainly unconventional uses for Dropbox on your smartphone. You can stream music and video straight from your Dropbox, for example -- but why not just load up your phone before you leave? Streaming high-quality content over public Wi-Fi or costly 3G isn't the best idea in the world.

Still, despite an inherent lack of real-world usefulness, Dropbox for Android definitely works, and it works well. You can upload photos, videos, music and text files directly from your phone, and immediately share them with the URL shortener.

Dropbox for Android is so tidy and full-featured, that it's best if I start with a big over-arching statement that sets the tone: Dropbox for Android does everything a Dropbox user could want. Now I will work backwards and explain the few things that are missing, or that don't quite work as they should.

First of all, you can't move files from your main folder into the Public folder. You'd think that it would just be a matter of selecting 'Move to...' from the context menu, but no cigar.
Then, for some odd reason, you can't view the basic 'Getting Started' or 'How to use the Public folder' RTF files. It says the 'ROM file type not supported' -- why...?

Uploading files direct from your phone seems to work for new text files, and videos shot with your camera -- but not photos. Instead, you get a rather unhelpful '0 of 1 files uploaded successfully' error message.

Other than that, the app works fantastically. You can share short URLs to files in your Dropbox, and you can also upload files to Dropbox using Android's contextual 'Share' option. You can upload music straight from your media player, for example. You can't upload Gmail email attachments directly, however -- you have to save them first.

All in all, if you have a valid reason for accessing your Dropbox on the move, this Android app (and its BlackBerry and iOS brethren) could be very handy indeed.

Dropbox for Android Tech Specs
  • Installed Size -- 2.12MB, but it caches some files (images? text files?)
  • Speed/Responsiveness -- Excellent, no slow-down registered (Android 1.6 @ 600MHz, LG GT540 Swift)
  • User Interface -- Very minimal, but full-featured (except for not being able to move files!) Also has a 'search' function; neat
  • Configurability & Extensibility -- Very few settings can be changed, but then again, Dropbox isn't a very configurable service...
  • License -- Free, closed-source

Tags: android, app, cloud, cloud storage, CloudStorage, dropbox, mobile, storage