Microsoft took SkyDrive from an also-ran cloud storage service to a must-consider contender in the past year. Now Microsoft has filled the last big hole in its cloud strategy by introducing an Android version of the SkyDrive app. The SkyDrive for Android app gives Android phone and tablet users access to SkyDrive's 7GB of free cloud storage--25GB if you had an account prior to April 2012.
Microsoft now offers SkyDrive for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android--in short, all the platforms most people use on both desktop and mobile devices.
One of SkyDrive's best features is its integration with Office Web Apps. Web Apps lets you create and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents using just a Web browser. Now, you can create a Word document, for example, on any desktop or iPad using just a browser, and then download the document to your Android device.
SkyDrive for Android directly uploads only photos and videos--no other file types. That's annoying, especially considering the Android operating system, unlike iOS and Windows Phone, provides direct access to all of its storage areas. This fault aside, SkyDrive for Android is a very welcome addition to my collection of Android and cloud apps.
Name: SkyDrive for Android
The SkyDrive for Android app fills the last big hole in Microsoft's cloud storage offering. The 1.0 release, despite a few minor weaknesses, provides a good cloud storage alternative, especially if you use Microsoft Office every day.
- 7GB of free storage (25GB free for users who signed up for SkyDrive before April 2012).
- Versions also available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Windows Phone, and iOS.
- Easy access to Microsoft Office Web Apps documents.
- Recent Documents list conveniently shows SkyDrive documents accessed on multiple devices and platforms.
- Easily upload photos and videos from SkyDrive app.
- No direct uploading of files other than photos and videos.
- I couldn't get a Documents To Go File to upload to SkyDrive using To Go's integrated file-sending function. Dropbox handled the same file without a problem.
The app's default view is tiled, similar to the "modern" (a.k.a. Metro) tile design used by Windows 8. The tile view provides few details about files and folders. If the file is an image, you're given a thumbnail of the image. If the file is a Microsoft Office document, all you'll see is an icon indicating the Office app used to create the file.
You can see a lot more information about your files by viewing them in list mode. Tap the list icon--the first of the five shortcuts in the upper right of the screen--to see (above) the full file name, file size, modification date, and shared status, although not file extensions.
The remaining four icon shortcuts after list, from left, let you do the following:
- Upload a media file.
- Create a SkyDrive folder
- Refresh SkyDrive's files and folders
Tap the upload icon (arrow pointing up) to upload photos or videos stored on your Android device to SkyDrive. You can't use this shortcut to upload non-media files such as documents, unfortunately.
Tap the icon that looks like a folder with a plus sign to create a new folder on SkyDrive.
The Settings icon is a bit of misnomer--the only action available is signing out of your SkyDrive account. Note, however, that one useful piece of information it provides is storage usage. I thought I was using a fair amount of storage because I used SkyDrive every day. In fact, I'd used almost no storage at all--most of my document files were relatively small, and photos automatically uploaded from my phone were rescaled during the upload process so that none were larger than 250KB. That was good to know.
SkyDrive for Android lets you download files others have shared with you on SkyDrive and open them in compatible apps on your Android device. There were three apps (above) on my Android tablet that could open the Microsoft Word document I downloaded from SkyDrive.
You can share your SkyDrive files with others by emailing a link. You can set the shared files to be viewed only, or allow them to be both viewed and edited.
Android apps have the very useful built-in ability to share data with other applications and services. My Android apps added SkyDrive as an option after I installed it. However, as you can see in the two screenshots above, my Documents To Go app was unable to send a file to SkyDrive. SkyDrive's error message claimed that the file name had characters that it does not allow. I had no problem uploading the same file to Dropbox.