Cloud

Get Box on your Android tablet to share, store, and collaborate

Until March 23, 2012, Box offers 50GB of free, lifetime storage. Jack Wallen discusses how to install and work with Box on a tablet.

I can't begin to tell you how fragmented my life is. Because of that, I absolutely depend upon file sharing and syncing. There are plenty of tools that allow you to sync your files (Dropbox being one of the most popular), but many of them don't offer some of the features business-level power users need. One tool that might fit all your business-type needs is Box. In fact, Box has a few unique features that no other file syncing tool offers.

Like Dropbox, Box offers a free app for Android and has three levels of users:

  • Free: If you sign up before March 23, 2012, you can get a free 50GB of lifetime storage. After that promo window, you'll get 5GB free. The free app is for one user and a file size limit of 1GB.
  • Business: for $15 (USD)/month, you get 3-500 users, 1000GB, and a file size limit of 2GB.
  • Enterprise: Unlimited users, unlimited storage, and 2GB file size limit. Call for pricing.

Here are some Box features:

  • Access, create, and view content on your Android device
  • Upload multiple images, videos, and files directly from the SD card
  • Save files to your SD card
  • Easily share files and folders with easy-to-send links
  • Invite colleagues to shared folders and to leave comments on files
  • Built-in search
  • Save files you edit or create in other Android apps to your Box account
  • Home screen widget displays real-time update of colleague file changes/comments

That's a healthy list of features for a mobile tool -- one that's sure to please most business-level power users.

The only caveat to Box is that there isn't a standard client for desktop platforms. Box offers apps for:

  • Android
  • iPhone
  • Google Apps
  • Office

However, Box doesn't offer apps for Windows, Linux, or Mac. And, for the most part, the Google Docs app seems more a kludge than anything. But the straight up file sharing of Box -- along with the ability to share out files, as well as the integration into existing tablet apps -- is well worth the the time and effort to install and learn. The temporary promotional 50GB of free space is definitely worth the installation (especially if, like me, you're running out of space on your Dropbox account).

So, let's install Box and start using it.

Installation

Before you actually install Box on your tablet, I recommend going to the Box web site and registering for an account. You'l be required to authenticate your registration by clicking on an email link sent to your default email address. Once you've done that, you'll be logged in and can complete the process by doing the following:

  • Creating a folder
  • Uploading and sharing files
  • Inviting collaborators
  • Leaving comments
  • Editing your profile
  • Adding an application

None of the above actions are necessary, but doing them will show you how Box works.

Once you've registered for an account (it's free), search for the app on Google Play (formerly the Android Market). After you install the app, you'll find a shortcut to Box either on your desktop or in your App Drawer. When Box opens (Figure A), you'l be greeted with the login screen. Figure A

Register for Box from your desktop browser before installing the app on your tablet..
Upon successful login, you'll be presented with your main folder (Figure B). If you've already uploaded files or created new directories, they'll automatically appear in the Box account on your tablet. Figure B

Box populates with all of the files you add from the desktop using the Batch Add feature.

Working with Box on your tablet

Box is quite simple. In the upper-right corner (Figure C), you can take care of the following tasks (from left to right):
  • Search
  • Share
  • Create folder
  • Create new file
  • Upload file (you can do batch uploading from the desktop web-based client)
  • Open the settings menus
Figure C

The search feature is isolated to Box folders and files, so it won't go into your SD card and search. The Share button will send a link (using either email, Gmail, or Google Docs -- if installed). NOTE: This share button only works with folders for inviting collaborators. To share a file, you have to first tap on the file and then select Share from the new window (Figure D). Figure D

From this window, you can open the document, share the document or view comments attached to the document.

The comments feature really does make this app stand out for business use. When you open the comments of a document, you can also add comments straight from your mobile device, which makes this a nice means of collaboration. When you share a link for collaborating, the recipients also need a Box account. That link will then open up the file in their account, where they can edit the file and add comments.

Box is a pretty awesome addition to the file sharing/syncing family of tools. Although it does lack in the desktop-native application, it makes up for it with the file sharing, comments, and ability to edit document features. I highly recommend Box for any business user on the go, especially those who have already used up their free Dropbox account storage.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

2 comments
The Cars Forever
The Cars Forever

To get the 50GB upgrade you have to create the account through the Android app. They definitely don't make this obvious on the Box website and it took a quick call to their customer service to find it out. I am not sure it a previously created account will upgrade the first time you log in via the app though.

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