There are lots of great productivity apps for the iPhone and iPad. I use several of them every day, and prefer them, in some cases, to traditional PC-based programs.
What there isn’t is a great way to move documents and data between them. Sometimes, you can move something you’re working on from one app into another — but can’t move it back. Sometimes you must resort to kludges such as e-mailing a file to yourself. And while Apple’s iCloud may eventually make all this easier, Apple still hasn’t fully implemented it for its own productivity apps, such as Pages, let alone third-party apps.
End result: If you’re trying to do useful stuff on an Apple mobile device, you end up with bits and pieces of data everywhere, and can’t always get them where you want them to go.
Box, the uncommonly ambitious cloud storage company that focuses on business use, wants to fix this. It’s launching a service called OneCloud which aims to let productivity apps on iOS — and, eventually, other operating systems — talk to each other.
The company is working with app developers to build OneCloud support into their programs. Once implemented, it lets an app open documents stored on Box’s servers, then save the edited document back to the cloud. Among the apps that will support the service first are Quickoffice, Nuance’s PaperPort Notes and Adobe’s EchoSign; many others are on board, including AutoCAD, Documents to Go, DocuSign GoodReader, Mindjet and TouchDraw.
OneCloud also includes a “View More Apps” menu item which lets you visit a guide to productivity apps recommended by Box, including both ones that support OneCloud and ones that don’t. It’s not a full-blown software marketplace: If you want to buy any of them, you get routed to Apple’s App Store.
Box says it plans to bring OneCloud to Android apps within the next few months; Windows Phone is also on the road map. The company is doing all this to bolster the power of the paid accounts it sells to corporate customers, but you’ll also be able to use OneCloud with Box’s free accounts.
Here’s Box’s own video demo of OneCloud: