This is a guest post from Jeremy Monat, President of White Glove Apps, a new smartphone app development company.
ZumoDrive lets you sync files between your various devices, including smartphones, netbooks, and computers. You can set up linked folders on your computer, then anything that’s put it those folders is automatically accessible on your other devices. You can share a folder with others to allow collaboration on documents.
ZumoDrive recently added the ability to upload files directly from your phone, which lets you quickly take and share a picture or video. This virtual disk service is from Zecter, Inc.
This review is for ZumoDrive 0.5.6 on the Palm Pre Plus and a Mac running OS X 10.6.3 (Snow Leopard). ZumoDrive also works on Windows and Linux computers, and iPhone and Android smartphones, and of course the Palm Pixi as well.
Signing up for ZumoDrive
You install ZumoDrive on both your Pre and your computer. On your Pre, to create and account, you just need to give your name, email, and a password.
Then you’re ready to install the desktop software from ZumoDrive.com on your computer.
You then sign in to ZumoDrive.com using the account you created on your Pre.
There are a series of options letting you automatically link your music from iTunes, your pictures from iPhoto, and other folders on your computer. Of course, if you have a lot of music on iTunes or pictures in iPhoto, you’ll have to upgrade to more storage on ZumoDrive than the 1-2 GB that come free!
ZumoDrive offers a free account with 1-2 GB of storage (more on that second GB in a minute), or paid options for 10 GB ($2.99/month), 25 GB ($6.99), 50 GB ($9.99), 100 GB ($19.99), 200 GB ($37.99), or a whopping 500 GB ($79.99).
Once you’ve set it up, a ZumoDrive virtual disk will appear on your desktop. When you return to your Pre, the ZumoDrive app will show your folders and files.
The Dojo: Earning an extra 1 GB
The Dojo is ZumoDrive’s online tutorial on how to use the service. Basically they’re providing an incentive for you to understand it better, probably so you’ll use it more. The exercises are pretty simple – they take about 10 minutes – and are a good way to understand what you can do with ZumoDrive.
Folder linking: Sharing documents with your phone
Linking a folder on your computer makes it into a mobile repository: anything you drop in it will be automatically shared with your other devices. You can drop in individual files as you need them on the go, or make a folder for an important project linked so you’ll always have the latest files for the project. In the Finder, just right-click on the folder and select Link folder to ZumoDrive. Once it’s linked, you’ll see a little cloud appear on its Finder icon to remind you it’s shared. One note: I did find that ZumoDrive gets confused if you move a linked folder on your Mac.
You can also see your linked folders on ZumoDrive.com. Just click the Files tab and double-click on Linked Folders. They’re organized by the computer they’re on, so you’ll have to navigate down to the folder you want. Updates are pretty much instant: as soon as you add or delete a file on your computer, the change is reflected on ZumoDrive.com’s Files page (you may have to refresh the web page). You can share, download, rename, and delete files in the web interface, and changes are automatically and instantly reflected on your desktop computer.
Once you’ve linked a folder, a cool feature is sharing a folder with others: you could collaborate on a project by sharing the files. (The only catch is your collaborators will have to install ZumoDrive on their desktop computers.) To share a folder, right-click on it and choose ZumoDrive – Share… If you click Shared folder, you can then enter the person’s email address and set their privileges to “View and edit” (read-write) or just “View and download” (read-only). This is similar to collaborating on Google Docs, but you can do it with any file type; although you can’t see changes made in real time with ZumoDrive. If you click Link, it will give you a link you can send people.
You can also go to your Pre and see the files in your linked folders. Changes to linked folder contents are reflected on your Pre as soon as you refresh (using the circular arrow icon on the top left). When you tap on a file, ZumoDrive asks whether you want to open the file, copy it locally to your Pre, or share it with others. If you choose open, ZumoDrive takes good advantage of WebOS’s multitasking, opening a new card to show the document in the appropriate app (PDF View, Doc View, Videos, etc.); photos open within ZumoDrive itself. If you copy it locally, you get confirmation when the download is complete. If you share it, the Email app pops up, letting you send a link to the file.
Uploading files from your Pre
Here’s the new feature. To upload a file, tap the up arrow on the upper-right of any ZumoDrive documents folder. The upload interface is pretty cool: you can preview pictures, videos, or songs before selecting them for upload. (The button to finalize selection of a photo to upload in a preview is labeled Open Photo). You also have the option to take a new picture or record a new video within the upload interface. You can upload or share any type of file from your Pre.
One thing that confused me at first was uploading a large music or a video file: the Pre’s Upload… flywheel only spun for a couple seconds, so I assumed it hadn’t worked. But actually it did: it only shows the Uploading… flywheel for a couple seconds, but continues uploading the file in the background.
Unfortunately you can’t delete files using the interface on your Pre, which would be a nice feature in case you didn’t have enough space to upload another file from your Pre.
Listening to music and viewing pictures
The music and photo icons at the bottom of the screen function as media libraries, letting you play music or view photos (but not upload more media). These media seem to play as if they were local files.
Alternatively, if you go to the main My ZumoDrive screen and tap the Music or Pictures folders, you get a file listing that lets you upload more files. However, it gives your uploaded files random file names, so it’s hard to tell what’s what. You can still view or listen to the files in a streaming setup, but the media players are better for those purposes.
Nevertheless, streaming audio and video play pretty well, especially if you use a Wi-Fi connection. Sometimes the video took a few seconds to get going, but after the video caught up with the audio they synched well for the rest of the video.
The difference between the two ways of accessing media could be better explained by ZumoDrive. After I realized the music & photo icons are media players for essentially local files, and the folders are for uploading, sharing, or streaming files, things made more sense.
The desktop application creates a cloud-shaped menu icon on your Mac’s menu bar. You’ll see arrows circling in the cloud when files are being synched.
The first two menu items open your ZumoDrive on your desktop or in ZumoDrive.com. The next three are really links to the same control panel. Specifically, you can view the transfer status, see which folders are linked, and change settings.
You can also quit ZumoDrive, which removes the ZumoDrive virtual disk from your computer. Of course your files are still available on ZumoDrive.com and your Pre, but you can’t use the desktop interface (e.g. to add files to linked folders and have them show up on ZumoDrive.com or your Pre). To restart ZumoDrive, go to your Mac’s Applications folder and re-launch the application.
For me, the ZumoDrive desktop application got stuck in a download loop: it kept trying to download two small files for some reason. This made it a processor hog on my Mac.
ZumoDrive is a solid option for sharing files between your desktop computer, your Palm webOS phone, and your friends. The ability to effectively extend your phone’s storage space is nice, but live syncing with other devices, both yours and your friends’ computers and smartphones, is the real key in my mind: it’s often just a couple files or folders you need while on the go, but you want to make sure you have the latest version.
The free version of ZumoDrive is full-featured and includes 1-2 GB of storage, but if you want to access your entire iTunes or iPhoto library on your phone, you’ll likely need to pay for more disk space. There are still some bugs to be worked out, but ZumoDrive seems to be rapidly evolving on many desktop and mobile platforms, so hopefully future versions will fix the issues.