I'm a Google Drive power user. In fact, I use Google Drive throughout the day, every day. On the desktop, it's a great way for me to get my work done. On the mobile device, it's not nearly as powerful. That's where a tool like Insync comes in. I already enjoy the power of Insync on my Ubuntu Linux desktop (it does a masterful job of keeping my Google Drive in sync with my desktop). Now, I can take advantage of the same power on my Android phones.
Insync offers the standard features of Google Drive:
- Access Google Drive files and folders
- Share files and folders to anyone
- Star files or folders
- Upload files, photos, or videos
- Create new folders
- Rename, move, or delete
- Send files as attachments
- Print files on the go
- Offline file access
- Filter items by file type
You'll also find advanced features, like:
- Export to SD card
- Copy shareable link
- Automatic sharing to all with a link (when sending/copying links)
- Save folders to offline
- Multiple photo/video upload
- Dedicated upload screen with upload history
- Stream music/video
- Passcode lock
- Combined "My Drive" and "Shared with me" views
Although the app is free, the Insync service isn't. However, you get a free, 15-day trial for every Google account you add. Once that trial is up, Insync will cost you $15.00 (USD) per Google Account (one time fee). There are also Pro and Business accounts. See the complete cost/feature matrix.
Let's install Insync and get up to speed with it, so you can decide if this app is what you need to stay in sync with your Google account.
To install Insync, follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for Insync
- Locate and tap the entry by Insync
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing carefully
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
At this point, you should see a launcher for Insync on your home screen. If not, open up your app drawer and locate it there. Tap the launcher to start the app.
The first thing you must do is sign in with a Google account. To do this, tap the Sign in with your Google account button on the splash screen. Next, tap the account you want to sign in with. When prompted, tap OK (Figure A).
Insync would like the following permissions.
You'll then be presented with a short, five-page tutorial. Swipe to the right to get through this tutorial. Here's the gist of the information:
- Right-swipe to show the Insync menu
- Left-swipe to show filter/sort
- Single-tap to open file or folder
- Double-tap to show file/folder actions
- Pinch out to create a new folder
Note: I found that the filter/sort sidebar was an incredible pain to get to appear (with the left-swipe action) on the Verizon-branded LG G3. For this device, the left-swipe had to be short and fast. However, I didn't have that issue on the Sony Xperia tablet.
Tap OK to dismiss the tutorial. At this point, you'll find yourself on the (very) flatly designed Insync main window (Figure B).
The Insync main window.
The big question regarding this application is why drop the coin for Insync when Google Drive is free and does a fine job? The best justification for this is the ease of managing files and folders offline.
For example, you might know that you'll be away from a network connection yet still need to work on a document. With Insync this is very easy. Here's how:
- Navigate to the file to be used offline
- Double-tap the file in question
- From the action bar (Figure C), tap Save to Offline
- The file is now ready to be used offline
Saving a file for offline usage.
How do you get to that offline file now? Simple:
- From the main window, swipe from the left edge to the right (to open the menu)
- Tap the offline button (the airplane)
- Tap the file saved to offline to edit or view
Whatever default app you have set for editing that offline doc will open the file for editing. The one caveat to this is that there's no way (currently) to easily sync an offline file back to online. Fortunately, there's a way around this. Once you're done working with the document offline (and you're back online), double-tap the file (from within the offline listing), and then tap the Edit on Google Docs button (Figure D).
Getting around syncing an offline doc.
Once you're finished working with the offline doc, you can double-tap it, and then — from the action bar — tap Delete from offline.
Although Insync has a few quirks, it does offer plenty of extra features that might woo you away from the free Google Drive app. If you need to squeeze as much efficiency out of your work day as possible, give Insync a try and see if it doesn't become your go-to file manager for Google Drive.
Do you depend on Google Drive while you're on the go — or do you have another service/app you rely on? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
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 jackwallen.com.