Amazon expands mobile ambitions with Cloud Drive apps

Years after startups pioneered mobile access to cloud storage for files, videos and photos, Amazon is getting in the game with a new app for iOS and Android.

Earlier this month, Amazon quietly introduced its free Cloud Drive app for iOS. An Android version of the software launched last month. With Cloud Drive, Amazon aims to tackle the mobile cloud storage which should put Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and others on notice.

None of the competing, similar services have much to fear just yet though. Cloud Drive is fairly bare-bones, providing read-only access to files, folders, photos and music stored on Amazon's servers.

cloud-drive-files.png

I installed the software on my iPhone this morning after reading TechCrunch's report of the new app and it reminds me of when I first used Dropbox some years ago. I see little reason to even consider using Amazon's software yet, given how far behind Cloud Drive is.

While viewing and sharing documents, photos and other files is nice, previewing them without the ability to edit is quite limiting.

You can watch videos and view photos stored in an Amazon account with Cloud Drive, but there are better apps for that: Amazon has long had a Cloud Drive Photo app, for example, and the Prime Music app for streaming offers a nicer experience than using a file explorer to navigate through songs and albums.

Even so, the mobile app is sure to mature. Last month, Amazon debuted a Cloud Drive SDK for Android and iOS so that developers could build apps that work with the company's on-line storage service. And in March, Amazon launched its $59.99 yearly Cloud Drive Unlimited Everything plan; a place to store and stash as many files of any type on Amazon's servers.

Clearly, the company has larger ambitions that just providing a view-only Cloud Drive app for the two most used mobile platforms. Even though it's late to the game, I wouldn't count Amazon out just yet. But Amazon needs to do better than a view-only mobile app if it really wants to compete.