It’s been almost nine long months now since Microsoft released the official SkyDrive mobile client for Windows Phone 7 and iOS-powered devices, whereas Android users had to wait in anticipation. However, it all changes today, as the guys over at Redmond have finally landed the official Android client of their cloud storage service on the Google Play Store. Packed with almost the same set of goodies as its iOS and WP7 counterparts, the app lets you access your world of SkyDrive storage right from your Android device. Be it the content that you’ve pushed to your personal cloud space, files shared by your colleagues, or your recently used documents, you can access and manage them all via the app. In addition, it supports batch uploading of photos & videos, and lets you share required content with your mates on-the-go. Sporting a gorgeous blend of Android’s Holo and Windows’ Metro Modern UI, the official SkyDrive Android app also lets you download content from cloud to your Android, stream music & videos, preview common file formats via thumbnails (both online & offline), view images in full-screen, switch between multiple browsing modes, create new folders and upload any required file format from your device to cloud on the move.
It’s not that Android users had no alternative means to access their SkyDrive storage from their devices prior to the official app’s release; previously-reviewed Android SkyDrive Explorer, SkyDrive Browser, Picox and several other third-party clients have all proved to be more than adequate and helpful solutions in their own respect. However, now that Microsoft has unleashed the real beast, you may better start contemplating making a switch to the official client for good, as it seems to satiate any user’s appetite, visually as well as functionally. First time SkyDrive users get an impressive 7GB of free cloud storage space to play around with upon signing up for a new account. However, if you, like me, are among a luck few to already have a whopping 25GB of cloud space at your disposal, all you need to do is log in to the app to avail and manage all of it, right from your Android.
Let’s now take a look at the app’s interface that is pretty much simple to use, courtesy of a neatly laid out design. Once you log in to the app using your Windows Live account, you’re taken to your SkyDrive content screen. Tapping the button in the bottom-left, you can switch between list and grid view. While batch select is enabled – by default – in list view, you’re required to long press an item to do the same in grid view. In list view, each folder is represented by a blue tile, and the counter in the bottom-right keeps you apprised of the total number of files contained within every folder. The size, title and recent file modification date is listed alongside each file and folder.
The toolbar at the bottom comprises option to upload Gallery files to SkyDrive, create new folders, manually refresh the app’s content, and head over to the settings screen. Once you’ve selected some item(s), the toolbar at the bottom gets replaced by an action bar, with options to delete, share (via URL or external apps) and download the content. As of now, the app supports natively uploading Gallery files only. To upload music and non-media files to cloud, you’ll have to rely on an Android file explorer. File upload progress can be monitored via notification bar alerts.
Of course, it’s a debut release, so we won’t be nitpicking too much on the missing bits as of now (it’s a gem of an app), but there are certain features that we’d love to see in the future updates; the first of which has to be instant/automatic uploading of media files, just like the official Dropbox Android client has been doing for quite some time now. Both Google Drive and Dropbox clients for Android also sport a homescreen widget, so one can expect Microsoft to soon inject said feature within its own offering to stay at par with the rest of the competition. Secure login, collaborative sharing/editing, option to create & upload fresh files, native upload support for common file types, automatic content syncing between desktop, mobile & cloud data, offline support for viewing files, and option to maneuver content between two SkyDrive folders are some of the other features from our long wish-list that we’d love to see incorporated within the app in the coming days.
The official SkyDrive Android client is available in Google Play Store for free, and requires Android v2.3 (Gingerbread) or higher to run.