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Amazon Takes On Google, Facebook & Dropbox By Adding Auto-Uploads To Its Cloud Drive Photos App

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Look out, Google, Facebook and Dropbox? Amazon has now added automatic mobile photo uploads to its Amazon Cloud Drive Photos Android app, in an update released yesterday evening. The functionality makes the otherwise fairly bare bones photos app more of a competitor in the space, given that Google (via its Google+ app), Dropbox, and Facebook (iOS-only for now), have all recently eased the collection of users’ photos from smartphones and tablets by introducing automatic uploading features to their respective mobile applications.

Amazon’s Cloud Drive Photos, for those unfamiliar, was released this November as a basic tool which could serve both as a way to upload photos to Amazon’s storage, as well as view the photos saved directly on your device. At the time, you could press and hold on an individual photo in the app’s “Device” section to upload it to Amazon, or upload entire albums in the same way. But no automatic upload functionality was present.

The new update changes that, and it even switches on the auto upload functionality by default – so be aware, if you’re cautious about going over your free storage limits (currently 5 GB). The option to only upload over Wi-Fi connections is on by default, too. In the app’s settings, you can also view the upload and download status, plus pause, resume, and cancel the uploads that are underway.

On phones running Android OS 4.0 or higher, the app now introduces a camera as well, allowing you to replace both your Gallery and Camera native apps with Cloud Drive Photos, if you choose. The option for this is tucked in the menu, as opposed to opening immediately to the camera, but it offers the same settings as launching your Camera app directly would, e.g., flash, a scene mode (auto, night, sunset, party), exposure, white balance, geolocation, focus mode and more. It’s basically just a shortcut to the actual camera, so there’s nothing special about it, really, except for the convenience of having it there if you needed it.

While the update is notable for the auto-upload addition, the app itself still comes across as relatively plain, in comparison with the functionality and user interface offered by the competition. But if you’re already buying into the Amazon universe for your files, music and photos, then it’s a worthwhile upgrade.

On a broader note, it’s interesting that Amazon has chosen to unbundle its various Cloud Drive applications from each other, with separate apps for Cloud Drive’s music (Cloud Player/Amazon MP3) and photos, as opposed to offering a full, feature-complete app that lets you access everything on Cloud Drive, whether music, photos or files. That seems to reflect the ongoing trend in mobile where every little function gets its own application. But as users’ app collections continue to grow, that could eventually prove to be the wrong path, as users shift their focus back to one-stop-shops to lessen the clutter and overhead of having to move between so many different experiences.