Point.io

5 10 2013

Point.io offers an enterprise Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform (launched on July 16, 2013) and Enterprise Gateway products for specialized enterprise mobile application development. Focused on document management and workflow, the platform is designed to help enterprises embrace BYOD while maintaining control of their content.

Bring your own device (BYOD) means the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their workplace, and use those devices to access privileged company information and applications.

Since the Point.io Gateway handles all secure communication across the firewall, a VPN is no longer required. Users have access to more types of remote storages, including behind-the-firewall repositories like SharePoint, FTP, SFTP, Google Drive and Amazon S3.

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In addition to its platform launch, Point.io is unveiling two new partnerships. The first is with Stratospherix. The other is with TheHostingPros, which is offering a free Sharepoint site when a Point.io account is setup.

FileBrowser by Stratospherix is one of the top-ten most-downloaded apps in the Utilities section of The App Store. The company has over 600,000 users in 60 countries. FileBrowser is now powered by Point.io and includes all the features of the Point.io platform.

I first take a look on the native app of Point.io because I think it should contain the main features and gives an overview of how the company’s service is intended for.

The native app Point.io …

Starting in July 2013 the version 1.001 of Point.io was offered for iPhone only.
The app is ugly designed but can be used to show how the platform works.

After installing the app on an iPad I recognized some mysterious behaviors:

- available storage sites are different on iPhone and iPad
- access to Dropbox and Box was not possible on the iPhone
- switching from portrait to landscape mode on the iPad mostly doesn’t work
- files on Google Drive cannot be displayed
- file transfer from one storage site to another is not possible

Here is a complete update list from July to October 2013:

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Features announced by Point.io:

  • 1 You can see all your storage connections in one place. For example, Point.io provides a combined view of Box and SharePoint and will be adding additional storage locations such as Dropbox and Documentum in the coming weeks.
  • 2 With Point.io, you get access to your documents on any mobile device, from anywhere, regardless of where the document is stored.
  • 3 Share any file with anyone using secure links. Precisely control what any person can do with your files at all times (e.g. print, edit, save).
    •There is no need to ever send file attachments again.
  • 4 Remove access to any file(s) as soon as they have been used for their intended purpose. Prevent any loss of control over your documents – your files always stay on your network.
  • 5 Ensure control and security over your documents, even when others use their own mobile devices (BYOD).

An interesting application is sending a document not as an attachment but as a secured link.
This feature is new and provided neither by actual file management apps nor by any well-known cloud client apps for Box, iDriveSync, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

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About FileBrowser …

With FileBrowser, the iPad or iPhone becomes a powerful tool for business and private use, allowing users to access content on company file servers, workstations or cloud storage from anywhere. The FileBrowser app is easy to use and allows files to be downloaded, edited and uploaded back to the original location or distributed to other employees, partners or customers. With FileBrowser, users can access their documents from their mobile device and no longer need to take bulky laptops to meetings or out of the office when visiting clients.

Let’s take a look on the universal app FileBrowser by Stratospherix, UK.
FileBrowser is the only file management app with Point.io integration at the time.
The best way to summarize all the features is to visualize them in a mind map.

Feel free to download the complete mind map in the following file formats:

PDF

ITMZ (Native format of iThoughts)

MMAP (Mindjet)

XMIND (XMind)

FileBrowser allows to create an account on Point.io.

20130729-101007.jpg

Stratospherix announced …

FileBrowser’s integration with the Point.io platform provides real benefits for users. With Point.io, access is simpler than ever before – users need only enter a single username and password to gain access to all their file servers and cloud storage locations.

At the time this announcement is far away from reality. One more time an app was released although it doesn’t meet the basic requirements of users yet. This is definitely the best way to lose favor with customers or to lose customers. A basic rule of app development was ignored: Release when finished.

Note
See my article
App Development + Marketing

Summary …

What are the benefits when using Point.io?

For private use with an installed version of FileBrowser your file management will look like this if and only if your different cloud accounts are supported by Point.io and, in case of connections to Windows networks, a suitable gateway is installed on the server:

20130729-124751.jpg

A benefit?
As you can see there is just one Point.io account necessary to access different cloud storages and Windows network drives. Instead of listing your connections in the left navigation window they are now listed on the right side. Not supported accounts have to be configured as usual and will still appear in the left navigation section of FileBrowser.

This image shows the situation without using Point.io but VPN:

20130729-131800.jpg

A benefit?
Point.io says that a VPN connection is no longer needed. I cannot see any benefit in that because VPN is a well-functioning and developed technique which is secure and totally controlled by yourself. If connecting via Point.io there is an additional security risk with services and tools of Point.io.

Definitely no benefits!
At the time other disadvantages are the incompleteness of services and some mysterious behaviors of FileBrowser on the iPad (no feedback when loading large files) and FileBrowser in general when accessing files on Google Drive (No display, Point.io operation failed, Error retrieving file info, Folder not found).

So the only remaining benefits are:

  • Supported cloud storages on multiple devices require just one configuration for Point.io.
    Access to Point.io then enables access to all storages configured on Point.io.
  • Sharing options increasing security like
    Allow/Disallow Print, Download Original File, Download as PDF, Expiry Date, Screen Capture, Password
    These sharing options control the level of access granted by this link.

What should be mentioned is that FileBrowser is still a powerful app with a perfect UI.
Stratospherix would be well-advised not to move Point.io integration into the foreground as they did when releasing version 2.9.1 on July 18, 2013.

Videos about Point.io …

Point.io ad

Point.io with FileBrowser

Related links …

Point.io

Stratosherix

Thanks for dropping by.





Long-Haul Flight

27 07 2013

If you want to share multiple files or transfer them from an iOS device to an Android device you will get problems. On one hand there are the different philosophies brought into both operating systems. Apple follows a strict platform lock-in while Android is a more open platform. On the other hand it’s hard to find out an iOS app which supports sharing of multiple files and better yet complete folders in an easy-to-use way.

So our long haul flight of documents from the creator to the recipient has to bridge two different worlds (and additionally some slight variances between Apple and Android users).

Here is a solution in case you are registered user on
iDriveSync
one of the most powerful cloud storages with 10 GB free space and an iOS client app which does the tasks described above in a perfect way.

The steps …

My example is about sharing an iWork document as well as two photos.
The folder on iDriveSync in my example is simply called SHARE.

To save the iWork document on iDriveSync you have to use the command ‘Copy to WebDAV’ from within the iWork app (here it’s Keynote, the app for creating presentations). Your iDriveSync storage can be accessed via Server Address http://dav.idrivesync.com/ and your password.

Photos can be transferred to the cloud storage directly from with the iDriveSync client by accessing images saved with Apple’s Photo app.

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  • 1 Open iDriveSync.
  • 2 Tap on the icon Option and select Upload and then on Select From Gallery.
  • 3 Transfer the photos you want to share into the folder SHARE.
  • 4 Mark the files, photos and presentation.
  • 5 Share them by using E-Mail Link and enter the E-Mail address of the recipient.

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The recipient will see the following website when following the link:

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iDriveSync’s sharing site allows downloads of files as well as displays of slideshows.

Sharing with other iOS cloud clients …

Cloud Sharing
Google Sharing of just one file at a time
Dropbox Sharing of just one file at a time or a complete folder
SkyDrive Sharing of complete folders
Wuala Sharing of complete folders
SugarSync Sharing of multiple files
Box Sharing of multiple files

Summary …

I compared the iDriveSync client app with many other file management apps like USB Drive, Documents, FileBrowser, GoodReader, AirSharing, and more.
None of these apps allowed sharing of multiple files and none of these apps was as easy to use as iDriveSync.

iDriveSync is easy-go-use, generates plain and understandable notifications for recipients and presents a plain website with just a couple of useful controls. Box does it all in the same way with a client app designed with a perfect UI but without end-to-end encryption.

Here are the WebDAV addresses of both competitors:

https://dav.idrivesync.com

https://www.box.net/dav

Related Links …

iDriveSync brings Private Key Encryption

iOS Cloud Clients

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Hope to see you again soon.





iOS Cloud Clients

21 07 2013

Using cloud storages is a daily task for many of us.
And that’s not something new. Think about all the E-Mail traffic which moves from cloud to cloud or the online banking where we can save templates for transactions since years.

What’s new is that we are much more actively engaged in cloud computing when it comes to

  • saving lots of pictures and sharing them
  • work on documents exclusively saved in the cloud
  • syncing and backing up mobile devices
  • collaborate on files

Nearly all cloud providers offer applications for computers and mobile devices for managing the data.

Although big companies are engaged in cloud computing the offered client apps are still not yet fully developed.
If we talk about a Post PC era companies need to enable the era to take place. As users are increasingly sophisticated in their needs embryonic software will not have a chance. The time is over where a mobile devices are just seen as a gadgets.

So let’s have a look on the features of so-called Client Apps with which we can access our free or paid cloud account directly in two directions, from and to the device.

I want to discuss offers from Google, Dropbox, iDriveSync, Box, SugarSync, SkyDrive, and Wuala.

Note
Keep in mind that this article is just about clients for Apple’s mobiles and when it comes to a rating it’s solely the offered client app for iOS which is taken into account.

These apps, I call them native apps, are designed for solely accessing to cloud storage. Another category of apps also provides access to clouds e.g. Documents by Readdle. These apps are usually called File Management apps.

It’s obvious that all the above mentioned providers offer client apps for computers for syncing data in the cloud with data on a local harddrive.

The maximum demands …

What should we expect from client software on iOS devices?

  • encryption while data in transit to and from the cloud
  • encryption while data at rest on the cloud
  • create files and folders
  • delete files and folders
  • move files to other folders
  • rename files and folders
  • send files by mail
  • send file by link (share)
  • multi-selection for file operations (delete, copy, move)
  • copy link (for further use)
  • share files by retrieving a link to files/folders
  • menu for recently accessed files
  • powerful full-text search within folders with highlighted search pattern matches
    (searching for just file names is nice to have but normally useless)
  • options for sorting files and folders by name and date changed ascending and descending
  • availability of the ‘Open in’ command to directly transfer a file to an appropriate application
  • preview for all well-known file formats
  • supported file formats
    txt, csv, image file formats like jpg, png, etc
    Office file formats like
    docx/xlsx/ppt (Microsoft), numbers/pages/key (Apple)

UI impressions …

See these screenshots to get an impression of the different user interfaces.

The comparison …

Here is a mind map showing whether main functionalities of client apps for Apple’s mobiles are available or not (red).

Note
App updates released after mid of July might change feature descriptions.

20130719-085235.jpg

You can download the map in different formats

Map as a PDF

Map in ITMZ file format (iThoughts)

Map in MMAP file format (MindManager)

Map in XMIND file format (XMind)

Visit

The Apple group on Biggerplate

to see and download more mind maps related to Apple, products for Apple devices like database clients or mind mapping tools, and background information about the company.

Summary …

From my point of view the winner is Box with overall excellent features. Just a full text search is not available. Furthermore Box offers 10 GB free space. With the offered WebDAV access Apple’s iWork suite can directly connect to Box’s cloud storage.

If there is a need for more security iDriveSync with it’s client-side encryption is recommended. That means, solely you have the key to decrypt.
Even if government comes knocking at iDriveSync’s door there is no way to decrypt your data (says the company).

iDrivesync brings Encryption

There seems to be no need for native clients as they mostly do not meet the above mentioned requirements. Anyway it’s recommended to install clients for those providers you registered with, because it cannot be excluded that apps for file management are flawed. In this case it’s useful to access the storage with the help of a native app of your provider.

To increase usability the additional installation of one or more file management apps is indispensable.
See my blog

Apps for File Management

for further information.

To see a comparison between Google Drive and Dropbox from the desktop view see

Dropbox vs Google Drive

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





Hastily stitched together

7 06 2013

It’s in the line of some companies to do their app development just for being present in the market.

It seems that they never heard of indispensable user requirements.
Some apps are hastily stitched together ignoring all rules of app development beginning with the analysis of what users need.

Here are some examples:

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Admittedly software is never ready but it should offer well-known basic features like sorting and an easy and fast way to get links in the device’s clipboard.

There are many single developers not powered by big companies who do their job pretty much better.

When I purchased my first iOS device I expected to get nearly finished apps for my device from the big three: Microsoft, Google, Apple.

What I found out:

Nearly perfect apps made by Apple and trials of beginners who announce a sort option as the millennium breakthrough. The way into the post PC era is definitely not realized with the speed of light.

Here is a comment of my friend Michael Wilde published on Google+.
Michael is an expert with more than 30 years experience in application development.

I have worked with well marketed apps. They look great and well organized at first use. But when one digs deeper into the app; there are sometimes basic , functions missing. I expect them to be apart of the app; push every screen and device button. The basic function just does not exist. I wouldn’t buy a used – automobile because it looked nice from the outside and had a great stereo system. The same goes for applications on any platform. Don’t be fooled by , applications that have “great stereo systems”. In other words, don’t purchase applications because they look nice and have a couple of “neat” functions. Make sure the app does exactly what you expect. Even at the basic functionality level. This article points this out very well.
The “stitched together apps” are guilty of this. Big or small, there is always always, a push to get a product on the shelf. Sometimes promises are made for needed or corrected functionality will appear in version 1.2.xx.xx. In other words, it wasn’t put together correctly the FIRST TIME.

Thanks for dropping by.

(Edited 2013-06-07 19:40 UCT+2)





Reblog from iDriveSync

28 02 2013

iNotes4You:

Encryption should be offered by every cloud provider to build up a confidence base.

Originally posted on IDriveSync:

We know there’s always a concern about privacy when you upload stuff to cloud services. Luckily, we’ve got a way for you to keep your digital goodies under lock and key. Literally.

New accounts with IDriveSync now have the option of Private Key Encryption. This new feature will allow users to encrypt their data with AES-256bit encryption with a key known only to them. That means no-one but you can access it. Not us. Not hackers. Not the government. Not even the Borg.

Well, maybe the Borg, but even they’d have trouble.

wordpress_enc

Here’s how it works
Think of encrypted data like a jigsaw puzzle. Unencrypted, the puzzle is complete and easy to understand. Encryption jumbles the pieces all up, but puts numbers on the back so they can be reorganized easily. We’re using AES-256 bit encryption, which is basically the most difficult jigsaw puzzle ever devised. Private Key Encryption means…

View original 658 more words





Cloud Providers for iOS Devices

22 02 2013

There is a rapidly increasing number of Cloud-Providers. You have to decide which fits best. Otherwise your data will be spread over the world and its hard to find out where they are.

I checked free accounts of 12 providers and their usability on Apple’s iOS-Devices as well as their PC-Client versions since more than one year. This article describes my experiences with all the free offers.

Summary of the main test criteria:

1 iOS-Client-Software available

  • to display the frequently used file formats like PDF, TXT, CSV, XLSX, DOCX, iWork-Format (.numbers, .keynote, .pages)
  • to manage files and folders
  • to get links for sharing files
  • to share multiple files via a single link

2 PC-Client-Software available

  • to permanently sync local folders on Mac/PC with cloud folders
  • to set up the sync direction (two way or one way syncing)

3 Encrypted transfer of data between local device and cloud storage

  • to avoid the usage of special apps for encryption like BoxCryptor for Dropbox
  • to securely manage data in transit (while transmitted between the provider and the device) and at rest on the cloud storage

4 Amount of free space

  • should not be less than 5 GB
  • reasonable prices for account updates to higher capacities

5 WebDAV-Support

  • to set up an additional connection other than the native provider’s native app via administrative tools like USB Drive, GoodReader, ReaddleDocs, …
  • to assign shares to a drive letter on a PC and work with this ressources within any application (e.g. saving documents from iWork directly to the cloud

6 Performance, Activity, Usability

  • immediate syncing with high performance
  • plain activity indicators on Mac/PC for sending and receiving files on Mac/PC
  • available context menu on the Mac/PC icon with all necessary functions for accessing local sync folders, preferences, recently updated files, etc.

7 History

  • availability of a file history
  • availability of restoring deleted files from the trash within a reasonable timeframe

Main facts …

Cloud Free WebDAV Encrypt Syncing
iDrive 10 GB yes no multiple, selectable folders
Dropbox 2 GB no no one folder+subfolders

iDriveSync and Dropbox provide powerful apps for Mac/PC as well as iOS devices.

Dropbox and iDriveSync sharing options on iOS devices are:
E-Mail, Message, Facebook Message, Post to Facebook, Tweet

A special functionality of Dropbox is the ‘Camera Upload’ which uploads every photo you made with your camera on an iOS device.

Both providers do not support encryption in transit.
If the provider is compromised your data will be unsafe.
Except WUALA (CH) no provider fulfills the necessary requirements for safe transfer and storage.
Admittedly cloud providers ensure encryption but the Terms and Conditions of nearly all providers authorize them to review the data or pass them to authorities on demand.

Dropbox currently does not support WebDAV whereas iDrive does. That must not be a disadvantage because the PC-Clients support convenient syncing with local folders and most of the iOS-Tools (like USB Disk, GoodReader, Documents, …) support direct access to the storage of well-known providers.

If using the iWork suite intensively Dropbox is not the best candidate as there is no support for WebDAV. If iCloud syncing for iWork is turned on (Settings – iCloud – Documents + Data) they are admittedly transferred to other iOS devices but only those using the same Apple ID. So sharing is only supported by mailing the document as an attachment.

iDriveSync supports WebDAV and therefore can be configured in iWork using the ‘Copy to WebDAV’ feature. What you have to do is to enter the server address (http://dav.idrivesync.com), your credentials and to share the iDriveSync folder with your colleagues.

Both iOS apps support the display of the above mentioned file types except CSV files.

Another benefit of iDriveSync vs. Dropbox is the pricing (1.38 $ /50 GB/y vs. 3.75 $ /50 GB/y).

So the overall winner is iDriveSync.

Useful links …

Sharing Multiple Files on iDriveSync

Costs of Cloud Storages

Risky Free Clouds

Which Cloud Provider fits best

Some impressions of the UI …

20130113-095425.jpg





Risky Free Clouds

17 01 2013

To register for a free cloud storage is easy and fast.
Go to the website, fill in your E-Mail address and a password and click on Submit. You will get a confirmation E-Mail. Confirm and you can access 2, 5 or up to 25 GB space in the cloud.

But did you read all the Terms and Conditions of your provider?

I extracted regulations from some well-known providers. Others operate with nearly the same terms. See what may happen with your data if it’s a free account.

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Dropbox

Dropbox allows you to store up to 2 GB free of charge. Dropbox reserves the right to terminate Free Accounts at any time, with or without notice. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if a Free Account is inactive for ninety (90) days, then Dropbox may delete any or all of Your Files without providing additional notice.

GoogleDrive

We are constantly changing and improving our Services. We may add or remove functionalities or features, and we may suspend or stop a Service altogether.
Google may also stop providing Services to you, or add or create new limits to our Services at any time. We believe that you own your data and preserving your access to such data is important. If we discontinue a Service, where reasonably possible, we will give you reasonable advance notice and a chance to get information out of that Service.

Box

In addition to other termination provisions, if your account it not currently subject to a paid subscription plan with us, we at our discretion may terminate your account if: (a) you do not engage in any activity in your account within thirty (30) days after becoming a Registered User, or (b) you do not engage in any activity in your account for any period of one-hundred and twenty (120) consecutive days. In the event of such termination, any Content you may have stored will be lost.

SkyDrive

Can Microsoft remove my content from the services? Yes. We may ask you to remove your content from the services if it violates this agreement or the law. Failure to comply may result in loss of access to, or cancellation of, the services or your Microsoft account. Additionally, Microsoft may remove your content without asking you if we determine it’s in violation of this agreement or the law, or if we receive a notice of intellectual property infringement from a third party.

SugarSync

Free Accounts don’t have all the features of Paid Accounts and are subject to limitations described in these Terms and as implemented by SugarSync from time to time. For example, you may have only one Free Account at a time and if you don’t use the account for a period of 90 days or more (for example, no synching or back up of files for 90 days), your Free Account may be automatically terminated. A Free Account holder may upgrade to a Paid Account by following the SugarSync upgrade procedures.

iDrive

We reserve the right to terminate Free Accounts at any time, with or without notice. Without limiting the foregoing, if a Free Account is inactive for ninety (90) days, then we reserve the right to terminate the Free Account without providing additional notice. An inactive account is an account where no login has occurred either automatically or manually for a specified period of time.

As you can see all providers may terminate your account without notice.
So what can you do to minimize the risk of loosing data?

  • Sync files in the cloud with a local folder
  • Use different providers and sync your files periodically for the corresponding locations
  • Upgrade to a paid account

This blog is about the usage of Apple’s iOS-Devices and you may ask, what can I do without having any Mac or PC to save copies of my files?

As you know iOS-Devices cannot be upgraded to higher memory if needed so you get a problem if you have to manage large data volumes.
What you can do is to attach an external storage to your router and save copies of your files locally on that device. What you need is a helper app which can connect to your provider and the network attached drive. You can do this job e.g. with FileBrowser from Apple’s App Store.

Refer to my blog

iWork to Airport

for a description of using this app for iWork documents or photos.

Read these posts for further informations about providers …

Costs of Cloud Storages

Which Cloud Provider fits best





Costs of Cloud-Storages

29 10 2012

Using a Cloud-Storage increases productivity. Files can be accessed from anywhere, anytime with any platform. If you want to use a Cloud-Storage with an iOS-Device the provider should offer a powerful client, which allows

  • Sharing (e.g. send Link via E-Mail)
  • Open in (another app of your device) Pages, Keynote, Numbers, …
  • WebDAV-Support for access via Apple’s iWork Suite

If you use more than one provider you should have an app, which supports transfer of files between the storages (i.e. USB Disk Pro).

Here is a comparison of costs of different Cloud-Providers.

20121029-144725.jpg

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Which Cloud-Provider fits best?

15 10 2012

There is a rapidly increasing number of Cloud-Providers.
You have to decide who fits your requirements best.
Otherwise your data will be spread over the world and its hard to find out where they are.

I checked free accounts of 12 providers and their usability on Apple’s iOS-Devices as well as their PC-Client-Versions.

Summary of the main test criteria:

1 iOS-Client-Software available

  • to display popular file formats like PDF, TXT, XLSX, DOCX, iWork-Format
  • to manage files and folders
  • to get links for sharing files

2 PC-Client-Software available

  • to permanently sync local folders on Mac/PC with cloud folders

3 Encrypted transfer of data between local device and cloud storage

  • to prevent the necessity of special apps for encryption like BoxCryptor for Dropbox

4 Amount of free space

  • should not be less than 5 GB

5 WebDAV-Support

  • to set up an additional connection via administrative tools like
    USB Drive, GoodReader, ReaddleDocs, …
  • to assign shares to a drive letter on a PC and work with this ressources within any application

Best ratings for…

Cloud Free Req Prominent (Deficits)
SugarSync 7 GB fulfilled iOS-Client no WebDAV
Wuala 5 GB fulfilled Security share only for folders
iDrive 5 GB fulfilled Simplicity sync only for one folder
Dropbox 2 GB fulfilled Simplicity sync only for one folder

Except iDrive no provider supports WebDAV. That must be no disadvantage, because the PC-Clients support convenient syncing with local folders and most of the iOS-Tools (like USB Disk or …) support direct access to the storage of these well-known providers.

Best rating in the category ‘Free Space’ goes to German Telekom Mediacenter with 25 GB.
Best rating in the category ‘Backup’ goes to Apple’s iCloud.

Thanks for dropping by.








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