Cloud computing is becoming ever more popular and important to desktop and mobile operating systems alike. We’ve previously looked at how Windows 8 will integrate with cloud services , but how does its mobile brother, Windows Phone 7, deal with this method of storage?
Remarkably well, in fact. By default, Windows Phone owners must set up a Windows Live account with their phones and this offers automatic integration with the SkyDrive service, particularly useful for uploading photos and storing documents from Microsoft Office Online. Other cloud-based apps are available for Windows Phone, however, offering storage for different types of data.
Yes, I’ve already mentioned SkyDrive, but in addition to the native SkyDrive facility there is also a Microsoft app that offers some additional functionality and access to the 25 GB of free storage.
What you don’t get with Windows Phone by default is the ability to browse the SkyDrive – it exists purely as a repository. This free app, compatible with devices that run the Mango (Windows Phone 7.5) update overcomes that drawback, providing an easy to use, Metro-style user interface to browse files and folders in your SkyDrive.
SkyDrive is available from the Windows Phone Marketplace.
This ad-supported free app naturally requires a network connection (wireless or data) as well as a SoundCloud account. It’s a very nice and easy way to record and upload voice memos or other types of voice recording. There is also a tool that also lets you review what has been recorded.
Titles and descriptions can be added to the recordings before uploading; while this might sound like the perfect app it does have one shortcoming – the inability to sign into SoundCloud with your Facebook account via the app. To get around this the menu offers an option to open the site in Internet Explorer.
It’s a minor quibble over a useful app; Cloud Recorder is available from the Windows Phone Marketplace either in your browser, on your phone or in the Zune desktop app.
Free Music Cloud
Another app that accesses SoundCloud, this time the focus is on streaming great music to your phone. A vast archive of audio tracks has been uploaded by other SoundCloud users and these are all accessible on your Windows Phone using the Free Music Cloud app.
Free to use (thanks to ad-support that can be removed by upgrading), the app also offers the facility to download the track or album you’re listening to.
While there are some copyright-baiting tracks uploaded, the best stuff you will find is provided by unsigned artists and DJs, with great music and mashups easily available.
A search tool makes it very easy to find music and queue it to play later, and the ability to sign into your SoundCloud account enables some useful social tools . This is a great use for cloud storage and you can find more details in the Marketplace.
BoxFiles for Dropbox
Dropbox is fast becoming the most popular cross-platform cloud storage solution, and with BoxFiles for Dropbox on Windows Phone you can enjoy free (ad-supported) access to the contents of your Dropbox cloud.
Documents that you have uploaded (Word, Excel, PDF, etc.), music, videos and pictures can all be viewed and edited, copied, deleted, renamed… you basically have full access to the contents of the Dropbox account. Additionally the app allows you to directly upload photos to it from the Pictures Hub.
The paid version of this app enables integration with SkyDrive, but for the free app hit the Marketplace!
It is also worth mentioning that there is another app, BoxFiles for Box, which enables the same level of access to a Box.com account.
These cloud-based options are only a small aspect of what Windows Phone is capable of. Natively, photos and video clips can be uploaded to Facebook, effectively using that service as cloud storage.
Additionally there is the Kindle app, again taking advantage of the Amazon cloud to provide eBooks for users, while calendar and task based information can be setup for cloud synchronization when used with a Windows Live account.
The apps listed here are some of the most popular for Windows Phone, with good reason! But if you have a favourite which we haven’t mentioned here, please do tell us about it in the comments below.