Last year in my Tools of My Trade series, the #1 Tool was Dropbox. I still love it. I still use it every single day for every document, file and picture on my computer. It’s cloud storage that keeps your files safe and synced between all of your devices (PC, Mac, laptop, desktop, iPad, iPhone).
Dropbox saved my 80,000 word Work in Progress when I turned on my Mac one morning and got the horrifying message “no files detected” because my hard drive crashed. I especially love DropBox now with the auto upload of any photo I take with the iPad. Those pics now appear on my computer in the Camera Upload folder without my having to email them to myself.
But there was one issue I had with using Dropbox on the iPad when I didn’t have my laptop with my Office Word and Excel available. I could see my files, but I couldn’t edit them. BUT guess what? I discovered I could edit both Word and Excel documents on the iPad with this free app CloudOn. And there’s more! There’s an Android version.
CloudOn is very useful, but there is one limitation. You can’t work on files while off line. On the iPad, CloudOn needs an internet connection to access the Dropbox files, just as the Dropbox app itself needs a connection on the iPad since the files do not reside on your iPad, but in the cloud server. I discovered I couldn’t use CloudOn with my Dropbox files while on the flight to Chicago for the RT Booklovers Convention this year. I got the “internet connection can not be established” message over a basically blank screen where my document should be.
The lack of offline support is annoying for both Dropbox and CloudOn, but do not despair because I found yet another app that allows me to work offline with existing files I can save locally on the iPad. I can edit them even when I have no internet connection and save the new version to this other app, which then syncs with Dropbox when I’ve established a connection. You have to wait to find out what it is… That will be tomorrow’s featured tool.
Wrapping up, when I first got the iPad, my big question was could I travel with just that and leave the laptop at home? With the ability to edit docs and with access to all of the files on my Mac, I can, and I’m still able to get work done and respond to any requests from editors, coworkers or readers that may come through my email. No question things are easier on a computer, and there are a lot of workarounds to use the iPad to do a chore that would be simple on my laptop, but I think I definitely could detach completely from the computer for a while– Just grab the iPad and a beach bag and head for the beach for a few days. God, doesn’t that sounds nice? FYI, don’t expect to see much of me the end of July, because I’m doing exactly that!