Mobility optimize

BoomerangDoc: Another secure file sharing solution

Find out why Will Kelly isn't very impressed with BoomerangDoc, a secure file sharing app for iOS devices.

There's a growing list of companies who are seeking to secure document sharing from mobile devices. It's not enough to poke holes in Dropbox's security anymore in your web copy and slide decks; enterprise customers are seeking document security-focused solutions. BoomerangDoc is yet another entry into this crowded and noisy field. Let's take a closer look at BoomerangDoc.

The BoomerangDoc web site describes their approach to document sharing like a boomerang:

  • Upload your file
  • Share the file with others
  • Take the file back at any time

BoomerangDoc iOS app and the 2013 mobile workforce

BoomerangDoc is a free cloud solution for iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. Figure A shows the BoomerangDoc iOS app: Figure A

BoomerangDoc main screen.

BoomerangDoc includes the following features:

  • View protected documents without plug-ins or third party software
  • Remotely erase documents you are sharing through BoomerangDoc from mobile devices
  • Audit trail over all file activity
  • Block file access from certain countries
  • Lock the document down so the recipient cannot copy, download, redistribute, or save the file locally
  • Share files for a predetermined period of time

The BoomerangDoc iOS app doesn't have controls for sharing documents directly from the mobile app. I thought I was missing something at first. However, upon closer inspection, file-sharing controls are only available from the cloud. Lacking this critical feature is a major strike against BoomerangDoc as a potential secure file sharing solution for a mobile workforce.

One notable anomaly I came across during my testing was the Remember Me slider got stuck in an infinite loop, going back and forth continuously after the one of the app crashes. I wasn't able to login to the app and had to delete and reinstall it in order to finish my review.

User interface

There's nothing remarkable in the BoomerangDoc interface that really sets it apart from  other mobile file-sharing solutions on the market right now. On the down side, the orange color became borderline distracting on the retina display of my iPad, and it made me not want to spend much time in the app. Figure B shows the My Documents folder in BoomerangDoc: Figure B

BoomerangDoc My Documents folder.

Viewing a document in BoomerangDoc is a clunky experience when you compare the reader experience in iOS apps like Adobe Reader. Even the onboard document readers in Dropbox, Sharefile, Box, and Druva are more robust than the BoomerangDoc reader. The reader also crashed multiple times during my testing. BoomerangDoc and other companies wanting to get a piece of the secure file sharing market can't afford a sub par document reader experience on mobile devices, because there are just too many options out there.

Security and BoomerangDoc

BoomerangDoc touts Digital Rights Management (DRM), but enterprise customers have a growing list of mobile-friendly solutions, such as Citrix Sharefile and Druva ActiveSync, that offer Active Directory (AD). Even the much-maligned Dropbox is moving to Single Sign On (SSO) support.

The BoomerangDoc web site also mentions military-grade encryption as a feature. However, there are no available settings to check this feature out further.

Ultimately, the lack of AD support could be a showstopper for BoomerangDoc in some enterprises, since decision makers are going to grow to expect it from their secure file sharing apps.

BoomerangDoc in the cloud

The cloud interface of BoomerangDoc is nice and spartan, but I still recommend dropping the orange color from the corporate style guide.

When you log into the cloud for the first time, BoomerangDoc prompts you to create a folder. After it's created, you have the option to rename, move, or delete the folder from the Action options. Open the folder, and then you can upload files using a standard process known the cloud storage world over (Figure C). Figure C

The My Files menu lets you view the files you are sharing and the files others are sharing with you.

Final thoughts

Secure document sharing is becoming a necessary requirement these days with established and startup companies seizing on the real and imagined market opportunities. However, BoomerangDoc is missing some key user experience and security features that are growing into standards for secure file-sharing apps for the mobile workforce. Except for a catchy tag line, there isn't much here, especially when comparing BoomerangDoc to solutions like Citrix Sharefile and Druva ActiveSync.

Do you use BoomerangDoc in your organization? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

About

Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applica...

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