Review: Box.net for webOS | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: Box.net for webOS 14

by Dieter Bohn Fri, 17 Sep 2010 3:35 pm EDT

  Box.net

Robert Knight sent in this review of the Box.net app, if that's your cloud storage of choice, you're going to like what you see here. It's been submitted to Palm for review and we hope to see it soon. Thanks Robert!

Box.net provides online storage that can be accessed from any computer and some mobile phones. webOS has two applications to my knowledge that provide mobile access to Box.net. The first application is Boxalicious which I have installed and used when needed. The new webOS app is simply called Box.net for webOS. Although it's still in beta, Box.net users will want it. 

Read on for the full review!

My Palm Pre Plus was running webOS 1.4.2 during my testing (currently running 1.4.5 after the recent update release). I didn’t have any issues downloading and installing the beta Box.net for webOS application. webOS 1.4.0 is a requirement to run Box.net for webOS. Once the application is installed you’ll easily recognize it via the Box.net logo that is its icon.

The first thing you will notice when opening the Box.net for web OS application is how beautiful the color scheme is. Some beta developers take a bare bones approach while in beta to work on functions more so than looks, but this application looks beautiful and official right now. You will be prompted to sign in to Box.net if you have an account. If you do not have a Box.net account, you will need to go through the signup process. All of this is done right on the phone using the application and web browser.

Being an established Box.net user I only needed to give permission to Box.net for webOS to access my account. The process is just like giving an application the right to access your Twitter account. The application will open a web page at Box.net where you must sign in and grant the application permission to access your account. If you don’t have a Box.net account the application does have the ability to allow you to sign up for one.

Once you’re all set up you go back to Box.net for webOS, press login, and you are presented with information about your Box.net account. You are shown your username, email address, maximum storage capacity, amount of storage you’ve used, maximum file size allowed, a view files button, a log out button, and a message about what to do to increase your storage capacity. As a comparison, Boxalicious doesn’t provide this same information. It only shows you your directories that are established. Having the ability to know how much storage space you have available is important I think. If you need to create space for a new file you’ll know as soon as you start up the application, instead of getting a low space or not enough space warning once you have tried your upload.

Choosing View Files brings you to a screen that shows you all of your folders. Each folder shows its creation and last update date plus time. A roundel on each folder tells you how many files you have in it. Below the folder icon you can see if it is private or publicly shared. One would think that all of this information would clutter the screen, but it’s formatted very nicely. You only have to select View Files once if you so desire. Each subsequent log in will take you to your list of folders automatically. You can back swipe to the screen if you ever want to log out of your account for security reasons.

Along the top of the screen you have your account that shows your username, maximum available space and used space. This is nice so you don’t have to swipe back to the previous screen to see the information. Along the bottom is a toolbar with a back button (swiping works as well), a home button (house) that takes you back to your listing of folders, an add folder button (folder with a plus sign), a button to access files on your phone for uploading (boxed arrow pointing up), a refresh button, and a folder information button (folder with a cog wheel). The layout and toolbar are very polished.

Accessing a folder presents you with the items in the folder represented by various icons depending on what the file type is. A Microsoft Word document gets a Word document icon, OpenOffice has its documents represented as well. Basically if your file has an icon online, it will have one within the application. Pictures are represented by a thumbnail of the actual picture.

The bottom toolbar changes slightly after you access a file. The back button remains, but you now have a delete button (garbage can), a button for performing file operations such as renaming, move, etc. (diskette), a button for security settings (padlock), download (framed arrow pointing down), and share (paper airplane).  The download and share menus don’t have the polish of the other menus at this time.

I suggest that getting to the full size view of a file such as a picture be more intuitive. For example, when I tap on a picture thumbnail in other applications, I am shown a larger/full size view of the picture. Instead, currently, I have to click on the download button to access the menu for open file to see a full screen view.

Box.net for webOS jumps to another level with Cloud options. You can find the features listed where you normally find preferences. The user is presented with two choices of Cloud Audio or Cloud Pictures. Whichever your choice, you do have to wait for indexing to take place the first time. The indexing can take a while depending upon your connection and the number of files that need to be indexed. Maybe an automatic background indexing option can be added to make the Cloud options ready whenever you use them.

Cloud Audio opens to your audio files that it is able to index. You then check a box for each one you want to hear and press play on the bottom toolbar. The option to select all or deselect is located on a bottom toolbar. You’re then taken into a basic audio player with your selections listed. The controls are skip backwards, play/pause, and skip forward. I’m impressed. With access to music on my phone, via Pandora, and via Box.net I can play DJ for days on end.

I tried Cloud Audio using my WiFi and 3G connections. I used two selections of music each ripped at 320kps. The WiFi connection maintained smooth playback once the music started. It was on par if not better than my normal Pandora connection due to my personal music being saved in a higher bit rate. The 3G connection using the same music, with 4/5 bars of signal was not great. The lack of playability could be linked to the bit rate at which I recorded. The music played but the buffer needed to help with smoother playback could never be fully established. 

Cloud Pictures allows you to create a slideshow of  pictures associated with your account with relative ease. Cloud Pictures creates does indexing like Cloud Audio. You are then able to choose which pictures you want to be a part of your slideshow. Afterall, no one needs to have a lapse of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”  moment when showing their parents pictures from vacation or a party.

There are no options for transition styles, auto rotation, or timers in the Cloud Pictures slideshow, but the default timing of 5 seconds seems to be very adequate. I could see this option being super awesome if the next Pre has an output (HDMI) that would allow you to show the slideshow on a larger screen. As of now I would like to see a replay option. Having the replay option would allow you to use the phone like a small digital photo frame while charging on a Touchstone. 

Other file types such as documents or PDF files must be downloaded to your phone to be manipulated which is understandable.

Creating a folder is very straight forward. You can type in the name and choose if the folder will be private or not. Once your folder is created the screen will automatically refresh with your folders in alphabetical order. Uploading a file from your phone to the folder is just as easy. You go into the folder and click on the button on the toolbar that gives you access to the files on your phone. The toolbar changes slightly, and you chose to upload your file. You will get a notification at the bottom of the screen that the file is uploading, but no progress bar of any kind (I’m told webOS doesn’t give upload statistical data). You do get a notification when the upload is complete. Multiple uploads are a no go for now.

Overall, I’m impressed with the Box.net for webOS application. It’s very polished and helps to add the cloud dimension to our mobile OS of choice. I look forward to the application receiving further development and becoming another great application in the webOS catalog.

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