Dropbox is one of a number of companies now offering cloud-based storage space to desktop, laptop and mobile device users for a variety of file sharing, backup and collaborative tasks. After using Dropbox on my desktop PC for a while, I put the iPhone app to an informal test. Although the mobile app performed well here and there, full-fledged functionality still awaits.
You can use Dropbox for Web-enabled back-up, to sync a folder of files across multiple computers, or to provide password-protected access to files too large or cumbersome for e-mail. You can also publicly share documents, music, pictures, video, and more.
The Dropbox storage service works with any PC or mobile browser. Dropbox also offers free client software for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac OS X, along with Apple iOS, BlackBerry OS, and Android OS mobile devices.
Yet while the client app and the basic level of cloud-based storage service are free, you need to pay if you're going to need more than 2GB of storage space (or slightly more that that if other people sign up for Dropbox through your referral.) Paid Dropbox accounts cost $9.99 per month for 50GB of cloud-based storage and $19.99 monthly for 100GB, for example.
I've been using Dropbox with my Windows desktop PC for some time to relay images and videos to my editors without clogging up their email inboxes. Out of curiosity, I decided to experiment with the iOS app on my iPhone.
Some problems aren't bugs, but simply the fault of the underlying design of either the Dropbox service or the iOS client.
In a bad security decision, Dropbox lets you see all folder names in the accounts of people you've given shared access to -- not just the name of your own folders. You can't see the contents of those other folders, but even so -- tsk tsk!
Beyond that, though, only a couple of months ago, the Dripbox service accidentally introduced a programming bug that caused a temporary security breach by permitting any password to be used for accessing any user account.
Meanwhile, Dropbox for iPhone doesn't let you sync your Dropbox account to a folder in your iPhone. Instead, you're accessing the cloud-based copies. That's just one of the limits of the mobile version of the app.
What Works, and What Doesn't
Dropbox worked fine for administrative acts such as deleting files. I also viewed some of my Dropbox files via my iPhone, and saved them to my iPhone as Dropbox Favorites, for offline use. However, you can only view files if your iPhone is installed with the right viewer/player app.
I was able to view or play Word documents, JPG and PNG images, and MP3 tunes without any trouble. Video editing, though, could be balky. For example, one video that I had shot with my iPhone pause-froze for several seconds, on several tries.
In addition, Dropbox for iPhone lets you share a Dropbox link to the file by email, copy the link content to your clipboard, or save the link content. You can also save files from Dropbox to Favorites by tapping the Favorites star icon. Supposedly, the "save" functions work with images, MPs and videos.
However, I was unable to save video other than to Favorites. Also, in saving other file types, Dropbox might kick me over to another app on the iPhone to do the saving -- forcing me to then click my way back to Dropbox.
Dropbox claims that you can "edit files in your Dropbox from your phone." That might be true, but again, you'd need to use other third-party apps to do this.
Also, while Dropbox does play MP3s that are in an accessible Dropbox, there's no playlist capability.
The Bottom Line
If you're an iPhone user, the iOS edition of the Dropbox app is worth downloading. It's free, and so is cloud-based Dropbox storage of up to around 2GB.
You might use the app to listen to MP3s shared by others to your Dropbox, or to administer your Dropbox from your phone, for instance. However, no mobile app is perfect, and this one isn't, either.
Whether you're a gamer, photographer, busy professional or just on the go, be sure to check out the rest of our summer storage special report. Demystify the digital clutter in your life!
Service, Warranty & Support
Ease of Use
* Ratings averaged to produce final score
more than 100 focused websites providing quick access to a deep store of
news, advice and analysis about the technologies, products and processes crucial
to the jobs of IT pros.
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2000 - 2013, TechTarget | Read our Privacy Statement