Amazon Zocalo, a new enterprise file storage and file sharing solution that's gotten a lot of buzz with the launch of its limited preview. Recently, Amazon gave me access to a limited preview of Amazon Zocalo.
Cloud file storage solutions and mobile client apps are becoming the preferred solution for sharing documents amongst mobile users on corporate and personal devices. Amazon Zocalo has the potential to make a splash for mobile users after a few more iterations.
Inside the Zocalo iPad client app
The Zocalo iPad client app is available as a free download from the App Store. The apps have the sort of minimalistic sensibility you'd expect from Amazon. The user interface (UI) is well thought out and the iPad screen real estate is well utilized. This image shows an example of the My Documents view:
Other views available in the iPad app include:
- Shared with Me
- Awaiting my Feedback
- Out for Review
- Offline Documents
You can move between these views with a simple tap on the left hand side navigation bar. The mobile app was zippy and responsive when I tested it over my home Wi-Fi network and later out on a free Wi-Fi hotspot that my cable company has sprinkled through my local area.
The app has an offline-viewing feature that worked seamlessly during my testing.
I'd expect that new users would have only a minimal learning curve to get up to speed with this app.
Zocalo and documents
As a technical writer by day, I'm a proponent of electronic document reviews and the document-focused features in Zocalo proved to be a powerful draw for me.
When you open a document, it appears similar to this:
You have full pinch and zoom control over any documents you open in the Zocalo app. You have the option to view the people associated with the document, leave comments about the document, and view an activity history for the document. This image shows the Quick Comment box:
At time of publication, there's no support in Zocalo for opening documents in other mobile apps like a word processor or Evernote. It's too early to red flag Zocalo on that fact because it's still a pre-release product. However, I do see some serious potential when users can open up documents in third-party apps straight from the Zocalo iPad app.
I setup another account to test document sharing and like how the app defines owner and contributor for the document. However, in the pre-release Zocalo version, you have to kick off document reviews from the web UI. Optionally, you can set a date and time for the review deadline which could be helpful for those who deal with time strapped co-workers, executives, amongst their regularly scheduled deadlines.
You have the option to search through the documents in your Zocalo workspace by filtering on the following:
- My Docs
- Shared with Me
The Zocalo iPad apps also let's you further filter your searches by:
Management and administration features
The Zocalo iPad mobile client app doesn't have any on-board management features at time of publication. It's strictly about the user You'll need to perform common administrative tasks including storage and security settings from the Zocalo web interface. I can't ding them on it yet since I'm only seeing a limited preview.
Amazon Zocalo is already being seen as a threat to some startups in the file sharing, syncing, and collaboration spaces. Furthermore, mobile file sharing apps are a crowded space right now and Amazon now with Zocalo backed up by their existing AWS portfolio and burgeoning mobile strategy can help thin that herd.
From a mobility perspective, I would class Amazon Zocalo as a potential threat to Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive. Huddle, harmon.ie, Colligo and others should take note of the Zocalo's feature running document reviews. With a few more app iterations, Zocalo could be the solution to beat for running document reviews.
The Amazon Zocalo iPad app is one of the cleaner mobile apps I've seen at the limited preview stage. In fact, the app is so well executed Zocalo is on my radar for the near to mid-term future.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.