Facing stiff rivalry from Dropbox and lots of others, SugarSync's popular crossplatform cloud storage and device synchronization service keeps adding more bells and whistles. Yet as we'll see in this review of SugarSync's latest app for iOS, although the service is even more feature-rich than ever, it remains harder to use than some alternatives, and there are still discrepancies in how it works on different devices.
SugarSync operates across Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac desktops and laptops, along with iPhones, iPads, Android OS mobile gadgets, and BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian phones. SugarSync, though, is in different versions on various OS, and feature sets still vary from one platform to the next.
Much like Dropbox, for instance, SugarSync is designed to sync folders and files from a computer first into the cloud, and from there with other computers that you designate. After that, it maintains two-way sync between the files or folders. One significant design difference, though, is that where Dropbox syncs files moved or copied into the Dropbox folder, SugarSync can sync without the use of a specific, dedicated folder.
Generally speaking, there are three main methods of storing and/or syncing files in SugarSync. Specifically, you can move or copy specific files into either the Magic Briefcase or Web Archive folder. Files in the Magic Briefcase folder will be automatically synchronized to either designated computers or the cloud. Files in the Web Archive folder, on the other hand, will be backed up to your account in the SugarSync cloud, but they will not be automatically synced with any other device. Alternatively (and quite conveniently), you can simply manually designate specific files and folders to be synced, without using Magic Briefcase. All you need to do is to right-click on a folder and choose SugarSync syncing for that folder.
There's also a Mobile Photos folder which automatically syncs every photo on your smartphone to the cloud and to each of your other devices, as soon as you snap a photo on your iPhone or Android phone.
I recently tested SugarSync 3.0 for iOS on an iPhone. The version 3.0 update, released in March, operates across the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Yet improvements in 3.0 revolve around user interface (UI) enhancements geared to the iPad 3 and earlier iPads. It supports iPad gestures and is able to display folders as 3D-like stacks, for instance. However, 3.0 also rolls in features added earlier in SugarSync for iOS 2.2 last year, and in SugarSync for iOS 2.5 in January, which can be very helpful on the iPhone. I'll discuss some of those below.
SugarSync's Android OS app, which is now in version 3.6.1, already allows you to sync videos, too. SugarSync hasn't yet added video syncing for iOS devices, but version 2.5 for iOS did bring the ability to sync/back up folders full of photos in batch mode. (Previously, you needed to to upload photos one by tedious one.)
In addition, the Photos tab in both the iOS and Android OS apps have been reworked recently to show as many photo albums at once as your display can handle, instead of just displaying one photo at a time.
Further, beyond mere file synching, SugarSync now lets you email links to your photos, videos, and documents, even when they are on your other synched devices.
From your desktop computer, you navigate to the desired photo on your computer or on any other synced computer, choose Public Link, and then either email the link or paste it into your Web site or blog post.
On the iPhone, things work slightly differently. You can only generate share links for files located on other linked computers, not any of those located on the iPhone itself. To email the links, simply go to the desired photo or file on the other machine, select "Copy Link to Clipboard" for that photo or document, and paste it into an email. Your recipient will get a link to a SugarSync site from which they can download the photo or document.
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