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SugarSync for Android is just like Dropbox... but better

Dropbox has received a lot of attention recently, mostly thanks to the rampant 'OMG 250MB referral!!' scheme that they've been successfully leveraging over the last couple of months. The thing is, just like Apple, Dropbox might be receiving the most press, but that doesn't mean it's better than the competition -- and there's a lot of competition!

Enter SugarSync, a Dropbox competitor with a lot of tricks up its sleeve. If you take a quick look at the comparison chart, you'll quickly see that SugarSync easily outstrips Dropbox in terms of functionality. In fact, SugarSync does so much that today I'm only going to discuss the Android app -- if I were to wade into the Web-based and desktop-based side of the service, we'd be here all afternoon.

First of all, the Android app is free (search for 'SugarSync' on the Market) -- as is the 2GB 'Free' SugarSync package. Unfortunately, though, the free version has almost no features. That's the defining difference between Dropbox and Sugarsync: if you don't want to pay for the service, use Dropbox. If you're happy to pay a few dollars a month, go with SugarSync -- it does so much more than Dropbox, and it's cheaper!

Once you've logged in, SugarSync for Android actually has zero configurable options. What you see is what you get -- but that's OK, because it's a very feature-heavy app indeed. From the home page you have access to everything currently stored on your account, and any files and folders that friends have shared with you. If anything, you have access to too much -- I quickly lost track of where my files were, and the differences between my Web Archive and Magic Briefcase. You can also quickly examine the contents of both your phone and your sync folders at home via the 'My Devices' section at the bottom.

SugarSync has two main focuses that it handles very differently: documents (as in Word docs, PDFs, etc.), and media (images and music).

For managing your documents, SugarSync keeps version histories of every file, making synchronization both easy and safe, no matter where you're working from; home, the office, or even while tapping away on the train.

The second focus, media, is equally as impressive. There's a built-in image viewer that's capable of handling high-res images with aplomb, and a music player that streams any music you have in the cloud -- and yes, your phone keeps downloaded images and music locally cached! The music player isn't great -- it only lets you skip tracks and pause -- but that's the kind of thing that will surely be upgraded in the future.

My favourite feature

Despite being by far the most basic feature of the app, the ability to send files via email with a single click is awesome. Every file has an envelope next to it -- click it, select a contact, and send the file. The file isn't sent from your phone, so it sends instantly. Very cool, if you're out of the office and need to send a document or photo to someone. Sent files expire in 21 days, which makes this particular feature rather like YouSendIt...

Also, when you open the app for the first time, it asks you to 'play a little game' -- if you successfully send a few files, and upload a photo, you get rewarded with 250MB of free cloud storage! Hooray!

My biggest gripe

Just like the Dropbox for Android app, you can't move files from one folder to another! There's no way to take an existing file and make it publicly shared without downloading it, and then re-uploading it.

SugarSync for Android Tech Specs

  • Installed Size -- 1.84MB, but obviously you need more space for any downloaded files
  • Speed/Responsiveness -- Excellent (Android 1.6 @ 600MHz, LG GT540 Swift)
  • User Interface -- Good, though I'm not a huge fan of the tabs -- they're a bit unnecessary in this case and provided plenty of accidental return-to-Android-home-screen errors...
  • Configurability & Extensibility -- Nope, nothing to see here
  • License -- Free, closed source. The service itself costs from between $4.99 and $24.99 per month, however!

Tags: android, app, cloud, dropbox, mobile, storage, sugarsync, sync