box.net_logo_11.jpg
Box has made a significant update to its iPad and iPhone applications just in time to entice users who took advantage of the iOS free 50 gigabytes for 50 days promotion to continue using the personal cloud service and become paying subscribers.

A Better Box

The latest release of Box’s iOS client isn’t just an update. It is a complete rewrite of the software to improve stability, performance and usability. Box released the iOS client in mid-October one day after Apple introduced its own personal cloud offering -- iCloud. Box offered 50 gigabytes of free storage for 50 days and increased their file upload limit from 25 megabytes to 100 megabytes. The promotion made Box an attractive option given that the same amount of storage on iCloud cost around US$ 100 per year.

The gamble paid off. The company experienced a 30% increase in mobile users. The promotion expired last week, but Box wants to hang on to its newly anointed users. The latest release includes several notable new features.

Video and photo uploads: The latest release allows users to create folders and upload photos and videos from their  mobile device. The feature makes it easier to manage content. It also makes it easier for them to become attached to Box and become subscribers, because multimedia files are often large and can cause users to exceed free storage limits.
  

BoxVid.jpg

Full-text search: The new full-text search feature makes finding content more efficient. Amazingly, the previous versions of Box’s client had no full-text search. This was an enormous issue for users with accounts with a lot of documents. As content sizes grow, without search it becomes increasingly difficult to find. This was definitely counter to Box’s goal of getting users to store as much data as possible in their personal cloud.
 
boxSearch.jpg

Favorites for offline: Favorites allows users to have access to important content when they are not connected. Inability to have access to content when no Internet connection  is available is one of the most common complaints for users of cloud services. Favorites eliminates this concern and also allows users to identify frequently accessed files.
 
box-ipad-favorites-and-file-sharing.png

Beyond the visible new features, the rewritten codebase is significantly faster and stable than the first version.

Additional Details

Box’s update is significant. However, it still lacks the ability to synchronize contacts, calendars, reminders and books, a convenient feature offered in Apple’s iCloud. Additionally, Box’s client does not support remote backup, although there are rumors the feature will be supported soon.

The update is available now in the Apple App Store. Box has not indicated when the enhancements will be released for other mobile operating systems.

Earlier in the week Box announced a partnership with HP to offer free cloud accounts for a year with the purchase of a PC. The company will have to continue to offer creative promotions to differentiate itself from what is becoming a  clouded personal cloud market. What’s your opinion on the Box iOS enhancements? Do they attract you if you aren’t currently a user? Let us know your thoughts.