Box or Dropbox, which is better on the iPad? -
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Box or Dropbox, which is better on the iPad?

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I have been a Dropbox user now or about two years. During that time it has served me well, providing an easy way to move files between all of my various devices. In fact, Dropbox has been most useful for sending links to my iPad Productivity eBook when the automatic links periodically fail. Some would argue that Dropbox is not really known as the app for business, although I bet that Dropbox would dispute this given these new features. I wrote a post here about some of these concerns; regardless I continue to use Dropbox for non-confidential stuff because it just works AND because I am comfortable storing some of my documents in the cloud. Well, I just got around to using Box and I have to say that I am quite pleased. In fact, I can say that my experience thus far is right in line with the comments out on this Quora discussion.

So, why am I using Box now along with Dropbox? Not surprisingly Box appeared on my iPad because of a business need. I am doing quite a bit of work with another company and we needed to share documents without constantly emailing back and forth. We discussed using a shared Evernote notebook and Dropbox, but neither provided enough security according to the IT guys at the partner company. In fact, it was their security team that suggested Box because they thought it had more security features than Evernote and Dropbox. Given that I am not trying to compare the services in this post and that my blog has to do with the iPad; I would like to comment on the differences between Dropbox and Box on the iPad.

In summary, both services have excellent iPad apps. I can add files to either service quickly and easily from email using the Open-In functionality.

I can connect both services directly to QuickOfficeHD.

Both apps allow me to easily send a link to someone else for sharing.

Box File Send

Dropbox File Send

However, as you can see from the picture above, Dropbox has a few more file sharing options, specifically the ability to copy a link to the clipboard. This is a useful feature if you are typing up an email and want to simply add the link to the email vs. creating the email in the send dialog in Box. Additionally, being able to get the link natively allows you to insert it into a document or other destination. You can get around this in Box if you email yourself the link, but this adds a step.

Both apps allow you to favorite files. If you store a lot of stuff on your accounts, this becomes a very useful feature.

Box Favorite

Dropbox Favorite

The biggest difference between the two apps that I can find is that Box allows you to add comments and create discussions around documents. This functionality is native to the Box service and speaks to Box’s focus on the business community. And this comment and discussion functionality works just as well on the iPad as it does on the native, PC-based app.

Which app would I recommend for those of you who would like to access documents on the iPad? Both! The choice of service to use comes down to your needs and preferences. If you need to collaborate with others outside of your organization and you value the ability to share comments and discussions, the clear choice is Box. If you value the ability to track file versions across editors, choose Box. If neither of these functions are important to you, Dropbox works fine as a service to share documents between team members across the cloud. In fact, I have a shared directory on Dropbox with a consulting company that is working perfectly. As to the security of both services, this excellent comparison post makes the case that security is quite similar between the two apps. As to the iPad apps between Box and Dropbox; they are almost identical. Given that both services have a free option, give them both a try!

Have any of you used both services? Which service do you prefer?

DISCLOSURE: This post was completely written on my iPad 2. Here is my current process:

  1. Write post on Byword in Markup
  2. Export HTML and paste into the iPad WordPress App (easier HTML import than Blogsy)
  3. Post as Draft to my Blog
  4. Import into Blogsy
  5. Add photos and do the final edit
  6. Post!
About the author

    Chris Lee

    I am a healthcare administrator interested in being productive. I believe that the combination of a tablet (iPad Air 32GB) and a smartphone (iPhone 5 in my case) can drastically improve how we do work without adding too much complexity. The “how” of accomplishing this productivity is the focus of this blog. Here are just a few of the topics I hope to cover. Even though I use iOS devices currently I am in no way totally tied to Apple. I have used a Surface 2 for an extended time and am currently considering replacing my HP laptop with a Surface at some point, so keep reading to find out when this happens. Heck, I may even write a post some day on getting efficient with a Kindle Fire HD given that my daughter just got one for her birthday awhile back.


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