This morning Microsoft announced a sheaf of updates for its OneDrive cloud storage product, improving its web and Android experiences. The new stuff will be seeping out across the world over the next few days, so if you don’t see it right away, take a pause, and then check again.
We’ve spent ample time in recent weeks thinking about and digging through the cloud storage space as it pertains to the enterprise. It’s important to remember that a huge slice of cloud users are regular folks, doing more commonplace tasks like backing up their favorite photos and files.
Microsoft tells me it has tripled the size of its team dedicated to building its various mobile applications since last November (OneDrive lives on Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android). The company also says that the daily active mobile user count of OneDrive spiked three times since October. That big rise makes sense given the release of an improved iOS experience in the month that allowed for the automatic backing up of photos from a user’s phone. If you want more daily active users, back up their photos daily.
OneDrive, Microsoft’s consumer cloud storage plays, sits next to OneDrive for Business, its similar, but corporate focused offering. OneDrive competes with Google Drive, and Dropbox, primarily. OneDrive for business goes up against Egnyte, Box, and others. (It’s worth noting that Apple isn’t a major player in this space, and that Amazon is also a marginal player.)
Given that Microsoft’s updates come in two pieces, let’s focus on what’s new for the Android app first, and then dig into the web portion.
New in the OneDrive for Android are a number of quality-of-life improvements, along with the usual mix of fixes and updates aimed at quashing bugs and increasing speed. First up are the twin abilities to sort and move files inside the app. These are examples of features you didn’t know you were missing until you need them and then it’s a possum’s paw to not have.
You can now also select multiple files to download at once. According to Microsoft, this was the most requested feature for the Android app. Finally, you can also now share files from the app, with either a link, or by sending files to another app on the phone.
This is the first update to the OneDrive Android app since February, when OneDrive supplanted SkyDrive as a brand.
Moving to the web, OneDrive includes a number of changes that better flesh out the service. The changes are small individually, but likely welcome. You can now, for example, send videos to Facebook natively from OneDrive. That, and your videos will now be shown inside of the ‘All Photos’ view, blending them in with static images.
The ‘All Photos’ view has been improved as well, with larger thumbnails. Album covers will now rotate through images. Finally, you can now add more content to already-shared collections.
As I mentioned, the updates are small individually. That said, they add up to something pleasant. When you do more rapid updates, the marginal unit of new on a per basis will decline. That’s fine.
Dropbox and Box grew on the backs of consumers using their services, taking it into the enterprise as a benign and useful Trojan app. Microsoft and Google were slightly slow to that game, but have since upped their ante significantly. Cloud storage is commodity, mostly, but it’s also a required component of a larger editing and management platform.
So, keep an eye as all cloud providers both build out their consumer and enterprise offerings, as they are different, and distinct, but very much joined at the hip.