Android has always made it simple to transfer files between apps and save to cloud storage, but what hasn't always been easy is figuring out what apps are best for document-editing securely on the go. Cloud storage and collaboration service Box today announced OneCloud for Android, a gallery of the best productivity apps in Google Play within its mobile app, all of which integrate securely with Box cloud storage. Additionally, 50 apps will soon be updated to include Box integration, including Open Office, iAnnotate, Breezy, CloudOn, and Docusign, but there are also apps like Dolphin Browser you might not expect. Using the OneCloud SDK, the new version of Dolphin Browser lets you instantly save a PDF version of the page you're browsing to Box storage.
OneCloud launched for iOS back in March, but the service feels a bit more at home on Android, which provides more obvious channels for sharing files between apps. Unlike in OneCloud-integrated apps for iOS, Android apps that use Box for storage don't need a button to "save files back to Box." Instead, they just pop up a "saving back to Box" window that indicates what's happening in the background. "I'm all over APIs and third party developers," Chris Yeh, VP of Platform and man in charge of OneCloud, said. "[Android] is easier for us — the SDK is dramatically simplified versus iOS. There's a structure in Android to move files between apps that's much more like a file system," Yeh said. Box's Android app, which now includes the OneCloud hub, launched in September and has already been downloaded 2.5 million times.
While critics love to scrutinize security on Android, Box's OneCloud SDK provides developers with encryption and decryption software that's easy to implement inside their apps. "Rather than taking a file and moving it to your local storage, we encrypt files on their way into shared storage, then decrypt the files as they are pulled by a third party app," Yeh said, and this is what differentiaties Box from Dropbox. "The experience is better in OneCloud for Android, and we'd hope to bring that back to iOS at some point," he added.
So OneCloud isn't an app; it's a framework and SDK for developers to securely transmit data in and out of a users' Box storage. OneCloud is also an app recommendation tool if you're inside the Box app. Tap an app and choose "Open With" to get recommendations about the top-tier productivity apps that work seamlessly with Box and with that specific file type. The company is attempting to create its own productivity App Store, of sorts, and it has no qualms sending all traffic to Google Play. The company estimates that it has driven hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales to third party apps it has partnered with on iOS.
"The experience is better in OneCloud for Android, and we'd hope to bring that back to iOS at some point."
While most half-decent Android apps are already integrated with Dropbox, OneCloud provides a simple way for developers to build secure encryption, decryption, and cloud storage into their productivity apps. As more developers integrate with Box, it will be tough to pick exactly which apps to show when users try to open a PDF stored in Box. It's a good problem to have, Yeh said; through OneCloud, Box is setting itself up to become a curator of productivity apps, which could resultantly drive many more users to its cloud storage service.