Smartphones

Apps for file sharing, backups, gaming, and more

For his May 2011 mobile apps roundup, Scott Lowe features cloudsyncr, ShareFile Mobile, AD HelpDesk, MyBackup Pro, and Atari's Greatest Hits.

May has been a good month for new and updated apps. In this month's apps roundup, I'll look at a couple of cloud-based file synchronization apps, an app that can be useful to the help desk, an Android backup app, and an app for those of us old enough to remember the original Knight Rider TV show.

cloudsyncr (Free, Apple iOS)

Dropbox is a wonderful thing. With 2 GB of free disk space available to anyone who signs up for an account, the service can ease a lot of pain. I use Dropbox for a lot of my writing and consulting work, and it's especially useful because I regularly work on four computers.

The cloudsyncr app makes Dropbox even more useful. With cloudsyncr, I can walk around campus, take photos of network closets or anything else, and the photos appear in my Dropbox account. Alternatively, I can post pictures taken from within the app to Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.

I've included three screenshots from cloudsyncr (the screens are from the App Store page). In Figure A, you'll see a number of files in the app.

Figure A

The cloudsyncr file window
With cloudsyncr, you can add captions to your photos and share them with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. In Figure B, you see these options in action. Figure B

cloudsyncr provides you with a number of social media options.
In Figure C, you get a look at some of the file selection and synchronization options that are available from within the app. Figure C

cloudsyncr offers file selection and synchronization options.

ShareFile Mobile (Free, Apple iOS and Android)

Unlike Dropbox, ShareFile doesn't provide free space (plans start a $29.95 per month for 5 GB), though the product is aimed at client/business relationships and collaboration with clients (think graphic design, etc.) rather than individual use. ShareFile can be used to replace an FTP server, for example.

ShareFile has a mobile component that can be installed on mobile devices. In fact, the ShareFile app is available for Apple devices as well as Android-based devices. Now, if you're working with a client, you can view shared files while you're on the road.

The ShareFile app operates more like a traditional file system than many apps like it, as evidenced by the screenshot in Figure D. Figure D

The ShareFile app is a lot like your computer when it comes to file management.
The thumbnail view (Figure E) is a way to see if the file you selected is the one you want. Tap the Download icon to download and view the entire thing. Figure E

Preview your selection before downloading to save time and bandwidth.

AD HelpDesk ($4.99, Apple iOS)

Password resets can cost help desks thousands of dollars in support time every year. The AD HelpDesk mobile app allows secure password reset and account modification of user accounts stored in Active Directory. This app works "out of the box" and doesn't require modifications to be made to Active Directory. With the AD HelpDesk mobile app, you can manage some aspects of user accounts, including passwords, from your mobile device and not make people wait until a support specialist is in the office. Moreover, you can send the new password as a text message to a user, as long as their mobile number is in your directory.

In Figure F, note that you can reset user passwords from within the app. Figure F

Reset a user's password while you're on the go.
Want more details to make sure you've got the right user? AD HelpDesk can help. When you choose to view user details, you get what you ask for, as the app pulls a lot of information from Active Directory (Figure G). Figure G

AD HelpDesk pulls information from Active Directory.
As previously mentioned, AD HelpDesk can text new passwords to users. When configured properly, this can be a very good additional layer of security. In Figure H, see that the user's password has been reset and texted. Figure H

AD HelpDesk can text new passwords to users.

MyBackup Pro ($4.99, Android)

Smartphones are mobile briefcases that hold critical business and personal information. Unfortunately, mobile phones are easy to lose, easy to steal, and can break. As such, it's important to keep a good backup of your mobile device. This is exactly the problem that the Android-based MyBackup Pro app solves. MyBackup Pro can back up the contents of your Android device to an SD card or to RerWare's servers. The app also features a scheduler that allows you to take regular backups of your device.

From MyBackup Pro, you can back up devices, restore devices, schedule backups, and more. In Figure I, you see the menu of options. Figure I

The MyBackup Pro main menu
In Figure J, choose what to back up. Figure J

Choose your backup contents

Atari's Greatest Hits (Free, individual games are in-app purchases, Apple iOS)

Back when the Atari 2600 was the greatest gaming machine on the planet, I was in love with the game Yars' Revenge. Through the magic of the iPhone (and the iPad), I can enjoy this game -- and many more -- all over again with Atari's Greatest Hits. The emulator app is free; individual games come in bundles of four games and costs $0.99; or, you can buy all 100 games for $14.99 (a 77.6 MB download). I've gone for the gusto with the 100 game download so that I can relive my childhood. Sure, the graphics look cheesy now, but back then, it was the height of technology. Figures K and L offer you a look at this app. Figure K

Atari's Greatest Hits has 100 games available for download.
Figure L

An oldie but a goodie.

What are your favorite new apps?

Tell us about the apps you've discovered this month that you find truly useful.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

7 comments
chilitechno
chilitechno

Actually, this is the developer of the app chiming in. I want to make it clear that cloudsyncr currently does not use the user's location information. Unfortunately the iOS API which accesses the user's camera roll requires location permission because the photos in the camera roll may have been tagged by the user to contain geo-location information in the image's EXIF meta data. The following link has more information: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5727875/how-can-i-avoid-location-service-from-alassetlibrary It should be noted that every app which I have seen which requires raw access to the camera roll requires this permission (including Dropbox's own official app). It has nothing to do with serving iAds, which Apple could get the location of your device separately without asking for permission anyway. If you do not say yes to allow access to location data the photos cannot be read. It is unfortunate that Apple has this requirement when accessing the user's camera roll, however since the location meta data is embedded in the file, any access to the file's binary contents would also have access to location data for the photo, if any existed.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Is not what one expects. It requires you to turn on GPS: http://www.cloudsyncr.com/faq.html This is potentially a way for the ads that are also shown to associate an image with a location and send it to a remote server. All with cloudsyncr not knowing.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I will have to disagree with your point about Dropbox. I just checked three different iPhones and I do not have to activate it in location services and I do not have to turn GPS on to sync any image that is in Dropbox. If I did, I would get rid of that app immediately.

chilitechno
chilitechno

You need location access to sync photos FROM your iPhone to Dropbox. But if you simply want to sync a photo from Dropbox to your phone you don't need location access. Dropbox app has two features, to send photos/videos TO the Dropbox and to get files (photos/videos/etc) FROM Dropbox. You don't need location access for the latter. Think about it logically for a second, if the photos/files are on your Dropbox you already have access to them via Dropbox's API through the app, but accessing the photos on the phone (to send to Dropbox) you would need to grant the app access to your photos on the phone. Again, the issue is more nuanced. Sending photos to Dropbox requires location access, getting photos/files from Dropbox does not. See this screenshot (straight from the Dropbox app - Uploads Tab, click the + sign button) http://img.ly/4wRI cloudsyncr does not sync photos FROM your Dropbox, its only function right now is to send photos TO Dropbox, hence why it needs the location access. Sorry this is just the way it is, if you don't like it, just don't use the app. But as an iOS developer I'm making it clear here why the app requires the access, and to counter any false information.

SKDTech
SKDTech

As far as they are concerned everyone wants location data stamped on their photos (and to be honest most people who are even aware of it do AFAIK). To fix it they would have to admit that the customer may want something different than what Apple tells them.

chilitechno
chilitechno

As a user totally agree that adding location information to photos has security implications. In fact I have location services turned off so that geo-location information doesn't get stamped into my photos. It's too bad that there isn't a mechanism to get the photos via the API without location data. Maybe in a future iOS release Apple will fix this issue.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I have thought about it. And, I do not need to upload photos as you suggest. Adding locational information to images has all sorts of security implications.