SugarSync for Android Will Finally Allow you to Sync your Files

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One of my major beefs with the Android platform is the lack of an iTunes-like solution. If you would have asked me a week ago what my biggest issue with Android was, I would have said the keyboard. However, thanks to some almost anonymous developer (no website, no Twitter account, the man does not exist), I replaced the device’s keyboard with an alternative one. For me, this just became Android’s biggest advantage. Can you imagine Apple allowing a different keyboard app in the App Store? Yea, that would never happen, but with Android, which is open, the sky is the limit.

What were we talking about again? Oh yea, iTunes. For me, and I know some people would disagree, the iPhone-iTunes partnership is what makes the entire platform so convenient. I have yet to find software, any software, that acts as an iTunes for Android. What I mean is, I want a desktop application in which I can organize all my media, whether it is pictures, movies, or music, and easily sync that application with my Android device.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are some 3rd party programs that allow you to sync almost any mobile device with your computer, and I am sure some of them work with Android too. I also know you can easily add or remove files from your Android phone via USB or just on the phone itself, something that is more difficult on the iPhone. However, I am talking about something so much more fundamental. Let’s just say a developer sends me an APK file, which is the installer package for Android. The only effective way to install that app is to remove the SD card from my phone, plug it into a card reader in my computer, copy the file onto the SD card, reinsert the card back into the phone, open a 3rd party app to install APK files and then I can install the app. By the time I do all that, a newer version of the app would have probably been released.

Yes, there is Bluetooth, I know, but that is far from an ideal solution as well. SugarSync seems to be the best solution I have found so far. SugarSync is like many other services, my favorite one being Dropbox, that allow you to sync files in the cloud, then download them from any one of your registered computers or mobile devices. So why is SugarSync different? Wish I had a good answer to that, but the only way it is different is that it is available for Android.

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Now, I am using an outdated Android (1.5), so some of the experiences I have with my phone, do not exist on Android 2.0 or 2.1, but I cannot talk about that, all I know is that the experience SugarSync provides on 1.5 is not the greatest. It gets the job done, and there is no better alternative, but let’s just say when Dropbox finally supports Android, it will be “Bye Bye SugarSync, Hello Dropbox”.

The concept of SugarSync is familiar. You have a desktop client, which allows you to manually add files that are then available on your Android phone. A free SugarSync account comes with 2GB of free storage, which will not act as  very useful backup system, but definitely covers your basic syncing needs. Again, this is not a replacement for iTunes, but it is the best the Android Market has to offer.

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The main SugarSync screen on your phone shows a picture of an Android device (G1, couldn’t they choose a Droid or a Nexus?), and a picture of computers. You can select to browse the files on your phone or computers and manually sync them with the Web enabling them to be available on all your other platforms. Unfortunately, when you press on the computers or the phone, you are presented with a long and confusing list of predefined folders, which makes me wonder why they couldn’t just let users define the folders in the SugarSync Web explorer.

The process of uploading and downloading files is painfully slow with SugarSync and I was on Wifi when testing it, but I guess that does depend on your connection speed. The app also crashed on me numerous times, but I am pretty convinced that is a function of Android 1.5 and not SugarSync. The bottom line is I should not be complaining about this app because I am going to be using it a lot and that would make me an ingrate. The app really does get the job done, and the entire concept of cloud synchronization between computer and phone does not cease to amaze me in its simplicity.

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