We review Dropbox, a file storage app for the iPhone
While Spotify may well carry the crown for greatest viral marketing product of 2009, not far behind is Dropbox.
If you haven't heard of Dropbox - still a possibility, though an ever decreasing one - the remarkable thing is it's not in a sexy sector such a streaming music and video, but file storage. Then again, it's file storage with a difference.
In a sentence Dropbox is a file synchronisation tool which lets you drop files of any kind into a single folder which it then syncs to the Cloud and across multiple computers.
Simply register a free account, download Dropbox to each computer and choose where you would like it to reside (Desktop, Documents, etc) and you're good to go.
And because Dropbox works in the Cloud you could, for example, save a file while working on your laptop in a coffee shop, spill coffee on that laptop and break it, return home, switch on your desktop and find the file magically appear in that Dropbox folder.
A generous 2GB of storage is provided free, with 50GB and 100GB options available for a monthly fee.
Consequently you'd think a system which prides itself on simplicity and accessibility should be an ideal fit for a handset like the iPhone and it is - to an extent.
On the plus side the official iPhone app gives you access to the files in your Dropbox directly from your handset and many of these (Word, Excel, PDF, etc) can be viewed directly. Furthermore files can be downloaded to the iPhone for offline viewing, you can take videos (3GS only) and photos and sync them to your Dropbox and even share links to individual files using email.
In sum, it is an app you shouldn't be without. So why the low score?
Ironically the biggest problem with the app is creator Evenflow has written an arguably better web app which is detected automatically when you visit the getdropbox.com homepage using mobile Safari.
Unlike the native app it doesn't have fancy sharing and photo uploading functionality, but vitally it allows you to view content added and removed from your Dropbox in date order.
This may seem basic, but given the native app only lists content alphabetically (you will collate a lot of files quickly) and has no search function such navigation is a life saver. By contrast, its absence makes the Dropbox app a frustrating user experience.
The shining light, however, is Dropbox only debuted in October and is just at version 1.0.1 so expect improvements to come thick and fast. Until then you'll need both web and native app versions if you are to get the best out of this superb service.
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Platform: Apple iPhone
Developer: Evenflow, Inc.
Website/Demo: Dropbox website