Dropbox announced today that Dropbox Pro will now inlcude 1 TB of storage and enhanced sharing controls. This makes Dropbox much more competitive with Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive. Existing users will see the increased storage and new sharing controls in the next few days. Dropbox Pro will continue to cost $9.99 per month. See my post on Mobile4Law.com for more information.
On July 10th, Amazon introduced a new enterprise cloud storage device called Amazon Zocalo. The service is currently in limited invitation, and requires an Amazon Web Services account to request an invite, but should quickly roll out to a wide release. Each user will get 200gb of storage for $5.00 per month. Clients will be available for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, and desktop computers. Data will be transmitted and stored using client-side encryption.
The storage wars are definitely heating up. In addition to being able to store any file type using this service, users will be able to view and annotate Microsoft Office documents and PDFs. Zocalo can be integrated with Active directory so that users can use the same account on their local server and Amazon and full file auditing is available. The account administrator can limit sharing and editing between users.
It will be interesting to see how this compares to Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft One Drive for legal users. My main concern for attorneys is that the encryption key is held by Amazon, but it is nice that for compliance purposes that you can decide what region your cloud files are stored in. As this becomes more widely available, I hope to review it for use on the iPad and iPhone. Visit amazon to request your invite and subscribe.
Microsoft announced a massive increase to OneDrive storage today for both paid and free accounts. Under the new plan, 15 GB of storage is available for free to all users of OneDrive (this is up from the 7 GB previously offered), and if you are a subscriber to Office 365, that number goes up to 1 TB. If you are not an Office 365 subscriber, you also have the option of purchasing 100 GB of storage for $1.99 per month, or 200 GB for $3.99 per month.
This news comes less than a month after Apple announced their upcoming iCloud Drive service that offered substantially lower rates than those currently being offered by competitors. For comparison sake, Apple announced that iCloud Drive would offer 5 GB of free storage, with 20GB to be $0.99 per month, 200 GB to be $3.99 per month, and 1 TB to be determined.
The biggest loser in these price decreases is Dropbox. Currently Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage for free, with 100 GB for $9.99 per month, and 200 GB for $19.99 per month. It will be interesting to see how long before Dropbox has to drop their prices to be competitive. Google Drive also offers 15GB of free storage and 100 GB for $1.99 per month and 1 TB for $9.99 per month.
If you were looking for a good reason to purchase Office 365, and the releases of Microsoft Office for the iPad were not enough for you, OneDrive storage definitely makes the subscription the most economical way I have found to obtain cloud storage, with the added bonus of Microsoft Office on your iPad and Desktop. It is also important to remember that you can still purchase a one year subscription to Office 365 from Amazon at $72.00.
“Free” Wi-Fi from Xfinity and AT&T also frees you to be hacked http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/index/~3/s-x4Wk3bVTo/
This is a great article from Ars Technica discussing the dangers of using WiFi hotspots, even those from trusted providers. Thousands of hotspots are turning up around Delaware advertising xfinitywifi (including one in my own building), a free WiFi network for customers of Comcast’s Xfinity service. The problem with these WiFi hotspots is that your wireless device has no way to determine if the hotspots are authentic. This matters because before you are able to use these hotspots, you must first authenticate using your xfinity login and password.
This is dangerous because there is nothing to prevent a malicious hacker from creating a Hotspot named xfinitywifi and then setting up a fake authentication page to intercept your account login. The worst part is that once you instruct your device to trust a connection with a WiFi router with that SSID identification (xfinitywifi) it will try to reconnect whenever it sees a Hotspot with that name.
For this reason, I have stopped using this free service of my cellular provider and Internet service provider. If you are an xfinity user and absolutely need to use the network of free WiFi routers, I would suggest that you setup an additional ID with Comcast just to use for WiFi access. When you add this additional ID, you have the option to provide it with no administrative access to your account, so even if it is hacked, no damage can be done to your account or personal information. Just make sure you use a different password for your dummy account.
Last month Apple updated Pages, Numbers and Keynote to allow online collaboration between up to 100 users. With this update, you can now share your any document you create on iCloud and watch as another user makes edits. When sharing a document, you have the option of allow other users to just view the document, or to make edits. The individual that you share documents with does not have to have an iCloud account to view or edit the document. If more security is needed, you can even add password protection.
Once you choose to share a document, you can send a link by email, or you can copy and paste the link to distribute in any other way that you choose. If you have your document open when another user logs in, you get to follow the edits that are made in real-time. If more than one user is in a document, you see each user represented by a different color. Users are prompted to enter their name when entering the document for the first time.
Apple did not create online collaboration in editing documents, but it is a nice free option that is available to any user of iCloud. To try these features, login to iCloud using a web browser at www.iCloud.com. I have used the online collaboration to easily share documents with other attorneys during presentations, and for preparing for meetings with multiple individuals will be presenting.
Although this is a great free tool, there are some notable limitations. The biggest disappointment that I had when trying this feature is that “Track Changes” cannot be used when sharing your document. This means that if you are not logged in at the same time as other collaborators, you cannot easily determine the changes that were made since the last time you accessed your document (you are not even warned that changes were made). Also, if one user is on the iPhone or iPad, you do not see real-time changes. The iPad and iPhone do not continuously refresh with the cloud, so it is best to use the collaboration only on the web, or there will be a delay in seeing the updates (for me it took about 1 minute for any changes to promulgate between the web and my iPad).
As previously announced, Microsoft made a less expensive subscription of Office 365 available on April 15, 2014. Office 365 Personal can be purchased for $6.99 per month or $69.99 annually.
The major difference between the Personal subscription and the Home subscription is the number of tablets and PCs that the Office products can be used on. Office 365 Home can be installed on up to 5 PCs or Macs and up to 5 tablets. Office 365 Personal can only be installed on 1 PC or Mac and 1 tablet.
I would still recommend that most users consider the Office 365 Home version over the Personal version. Having the ability to install on multiple computers is extremely useful, and you can share this benefit with anyone in your household. This means that up to four additional users can have access to your account, and each user can have their own 20GB of OneDrive storage.
As an added bonus, if you choose to purchase an Office 365 Home Subscription from Amazon, it is currently being sold at a discounted rate of $67.13 for an entire year (cheaper than purchasing the annual subscription from Microsoft for Office 365 Personal).
Once you purchase an Office 365 subscription, you are able to fully utilize all of the Microsoft Office apps for the iPad.
Encryption is the safest way to use consumer cloud services. Picking the best app may be daunting. This article may give you a push in the right direction.