We’ve gone through Dropbox’s integration on BlackBerry 10 and touched on the Box preload in our Z10 review, and poked around at third party apps like PlayCloud that provide access to SkyDrive, Google Drive, and SugarSync. What we haven’t done is pit them all against one another and see how they run on the recently-launched BlackBerry Q10.
Cloud services are now an integral part of BlackBerry 10. Even if you haven't used them in the past, you should really be taking advantage of the great functionality they now offer on BlackBerry.
Stay with us as we run through it all and break down the cloud services offered on BlackBerry 10.
Dropbox is the go-to cloud storage solution for most folks. If you’re especially techy, odds are good that you’ve amassed quite a bit of space by taking part in promotions or inviting friends to sign up. Even if you haven’t, Dropbox gives you 2 GB for free. It benefits from a simple, strong web interface, and clients for just about every platform.
Surprisingly, Box has the edge in terms of sheer functionality. Unlike the Dropbox BlackBerry 10 app, Box has toggles available to sync up videos and pictures, either when you’re on a cell network or Wi-Fi only if you want to save banwidth and battery.
We were hoping that by the time BlackBerry 10.1 hit we’d see Dropbox adding those features, but apparently not. This might be a dealbreaker for those that need something that automatically backs up pictures. As for capacity, many PlayBook owners took advantage of a free 50 GB promotion Box was offering awhile back, which is more than enough for most folks. Even if you missed it, Box gives you 5 GB for free.
As for the front-end, both of these services are being accessed through the native BlackBerry 10 File Manager. Dropbox and Box both have their own tabs. They also have this Pin function which automatically downloads your cloud files to your BlackBerry Q10 so that you don’t have to count on a connection to get the files you need. Pinning also uploads certain types of files.
For now, that’s only Box with pictures and videos. Be careful, though; I checked off the pin and when I realized that I didn’t want to download several GB of files to my phone, I couldn’t cancel the transfer. If you’re in the same boat, just sit through it and you’ll be able to unpin shortly.
You can also get access to SugarSync, SkyDrive, and Google Drive through a popular third-party file manager called PlayCloud. A major benefit PlayCloud has over the official clients is the ability to enable sharing of specific folders and generate links to share out to contacts that need to get their mitts on something. You can also link in DropBox and Box if you’d rather have everything in the same place, and if you need some more technical remote file access,
Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, and SkyDrive all have desktop counterparts which can monitor and sync specific folders. On Windows 8, that includes the usual hassle of having a Start menu version of the app if you want to be able to check files at a glance through a sidebar, and a separate desktop app if you want to automatically sync folders. On the plus side, once it's all set up, you've got a clear flow of files from your BlackBerry Q10 back to home base. Also, remember that if these services aren’t really your bag, you’ve got the ability to be your own cloud provider thanks to the new wireless file access feature in Link. The only real caveat there is that you've got to meddle around with your firewall a fair bit (or disable it entirely) to get it to work.
Personally, I like the Link solution best. For accessing shared assets, obviously stuff like Dropbox is ideal, but generally speaking, what I want to do is tunnel right to my computer, without having to deal with additional desktop clients or worrying if the file I'm looking for had been synced recently. That's something Link remote file access stands to provide so long as your computer's on. Hey, that's just me, though - how do you guys store and access files in the cloud? Is there a service that isn't yet represented on BlackBerry 10? Do the existing solutions offer everything you're looking for?