Is SkyDrive for Windows Phone Worth Your While?

I really wanted to know what the fuss with the cloud was all about. And since we’re at the Windows portion of AppStorm, we’re taking a look today at SkyDrive, Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Drive and Apple’s iCloud.

But instead of trying the desktop app, I wanted to try out the mobile version because creating a usable, functional mobile app is that much more harder than creating one for the desktop. So let’s get started!

What’s SkyDrive?

SkyDrive is a piece of software that uses the cloud to take care of your data. Once you upload your documents or pictures or files of any sort to your SkyDrive account, you can access them wherever and whenever you want from whichever device you’re using. Amazing, right?

You don’t have to carry around a copy of the file in all the devices you own. All you have to do is download the app on all your devices and boom! you have access to all your files!

Installation

SkyDrive is free and can be downloaded from the Marketplace. It weighs in at roughly 2MB and takes just a couple of minutes to download depending on your internet speed.

The free version give you a storage space of 7GB which is a pretty reasonable amount. If you are looking for more storage space, go for the paid version of SkyDrive which is SkyDrive+.

Make sure you have a Windows Live ID to log in to SkyDrive . You don’t have the option to sign up from your mobile, keep in mind. So create one, log in to SkyDrive and it will be up and running in seconds.

Getting Started

The user interface is very similar to every other Windows Phone 7 app and follows all the UI paradigms — this sure is a drama free app. You’ll find the same old traditional yellow folder in a white background.

Major short cuts are at the bottom for easy accessibility for the users. When you have a lot of files and folders, you can change the view so that you don’t have to scroll up and down to view your entire stuff.

Now, let us try adding a picture to your SkyDrive account. At the beginning, you will find three folders viz., Documents, Pictures and Public. The permissions to the folders are initially set to Just me, Just me and Everyone respectively. Choose any one of the folders and tap on + at the bottom. Tap on any one of the photos and you are good to go.

Making the Cloud Work for You

Well, things start off pretty easy — you can upload an image directly from your mobile instead of using the app. Great integration with the core OS here! We don’t want to load the entire app just to load a single picture, do we? If you haven’t noticed, by default Windows phone allows you to instantly upload your photos from your camera roll by giving an option ‘Share’ -> ‘SkyDrive’.

You can also upload videos the same way. After the upload, you’ll notice two new folders in your Pictures -> Albums from your mobile consisting of the pictures and mobile uploads from your SkyDrive mobile app.

With the pictures, let’s try uploading some documents. I spent hours trying to figure out a way to add a document from my SkyDrive app. But the + button only took me to my photos gallery. So instead of trying to add the document from your SkyDrive app, go to your Office app or to the location where you have saved your documents on your mobile. Tap on the document and tap on ‘Share’ -> ‘SkyDrive’. If there’s indeed an easier way to add documents, please do let me know and I’ll update this section.

As They Say, Sharing is Caring

Say you’ve uploaded a picture or a document. If you wish to share it with your loved ones, you can opt for one of the three options. You can either send a link through e-mail or copy the link to your clipboard so you can paste it in chat windows or send the link as text or alter the permissions.

When you change the permissions for the first time, Windows Live takes you through a small security check to protect your account. It takes less than a minute so it’s not as intrusive as you think. After you get through the check, type in your mate’s e-mail address. You can either let the person just to view or or you can let him/her to edit your document. Pretty sweet, eh?

You can either share a single file or you can share the whole folder. The app lets you create as many as folders your want. The free version of SkyDrive provides you with 7GB which is pretty sufficient. The default permission setting is set to ‘Just me’. You can change the settings at any point of time.

Wrapping Up

I’m still not entirely sold about the merits of the cloud but if SkyDrive is just the first step in the next era of computing and storage, I’ll be incredibly interested.

As the first iteration, SkyDrive does suffer from some teething issues but what is does, it does it well. With that in mind, I have no trouble recommending SkyDrive.


Summary

Store photos and docs online. Access them from any PC, Mac or phone. Create and work together on Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents.

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