There are many services on the web that offer to store your documents and data in the cloud, yet few of them are as popular and widespread as Dropbox and Google Drive. Each of these services not only offers a series of common options and features, but also differentiates from each other in some crucial aspects, with Google Drive focusing more on creation and collaboration and Dropbox putting most of its attention on storage and accessibility.
Yet, even though both Google Drive and Dropbox are available through any web browser, both have released iOS apps that make each of their services far better suited to users with iOS devices.
Just like the differences that each of their web services has in concept, Google Drive and Dropbox offer apps with a distinct focus each.
Dropbox clearly states its goals with its app the moment you open it and log into your account. Once you do, you are greeted with all the folders you have created including the ones you share with other people and the one where you can upload photos. Other than that, there are few novelties in Dropbox’s interface, which looks and behaves just like any traditional file system. There are folders and sub folders to help you keep your data organized and tapping any of your documents and files will immediately display it. However, this view is restricted to read-only, and editing options even for basic text files are nowhere to be found.
At the bottom of every screen you will also find the option to filter your favorite files, to see the ones you uploaded with the app and the app’s Settings, where you can see how much space you have left in your account and upgrade it if you want.
Contrary to Dropbox’s interface, which follows a file system hierarchy, Google Drive’s app is built to resemble its web interface, putting an emphasis on sharing and creation. All your files are housed under the My Drive folder, with the rest of the main options being dedicated entirely to filter your documents.
Opening documents is a simple matter of tapping on them. Once open, you can see who else is viewing it and edit it as well.
Also, by tapping the grey arrow icon next to any document you are able to download it for viewing it offline and to add more people to share it with.
Both the Google Drive and the Dropbox apps have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. We already mentioned that you can’tedit documents at all with Dropbox, but what it lacks in editing features, it makes up for it in inter-app compatibility. This means that while you can’t edit documents in Dropbox itself, Dropbox supports a vast array of apps where you can export your documents in order to edit them. Apps like Evernote, Apple’s iOS iWork suite of apps and even Google’s own Google Drive are supported by Dropbox.
It might involve an extra step, but actual file edition is possible, if not in Dropbox itself, at least from it.
As for Google Drive, its defining feature is definitely the ability to create and edit documents from within the app itself. In fact, Google Drive offers a quite impressive set of editing tools, with almost every editing option from its web interface available within the app.
When it comes to sharing though, Google Drive is not even close to what Dropbox has to offer. In fact, I wasn’t even able to export my Google Drive’s documents to any other app on my iPhone.
As you see, while both Google Drive and Dropbox might offer the same basic functionality, they are in fact very different apps. Depending on your taste and mostly, on your particular needs, you might prefer one or the other, but regardless of what you choose you can’t go wrong, since each excels at what it does and, best of all, both are free. And if you are someone who’s wondering how web version of Google Drive compares with Microsoft Office Web Apps, well, we’ve got that covered too.