Microsoft’s cloud storage service, known as OneDrive, has come a long way since its original inception which was launched using the name SkyDrive. Initially only available for Windows, the software’s “sync engine” was unreliable and often required full resynchronisation to repair errors.
In the last couple of years, however, the sync engine has been vastly improved and overhauled, with releases for Mac and smartphone devices.
These improvements to the OneDrive service have seen the application overtake Google and Dropbox as the cloud storage service of choice amongst businesses according to a recent survey by Spiceworks.
But surveys aside, perhaps you're wondering what OneDrive is. Well, OneDrive is a cloud storage service that allows users to synchronise their files and folders across devices (such as desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet), which in turn allows access to documents from any device in almost any location.
The OneDrive client has been available for desktops and laptops for some time, with smartphone and tablet apps being released later in the product’s life. OneDrive accounts come in two flavours – personal and business, with the latter provided by a wide variety of business and enterprise Office 365 plans.
What features can be found in the OneDrive app?
So, what does the OneDrive app offer in terms of features? Whilst both the iOS (Apple) and Android apps offer more or less the same features, I will be focussing on the iOS app in this article.
As you would expect, basic functions such as file management (moving/ renaming/ deleting/ searching) and sharing is possible from within the app. However, the app holds many significant features which I will now go into in more detail...
Open files using the OneDrive app or third-party app
The OneDrive application itself has a built-in previewer that allows you to open most common file types such as Office documents, PDFs, images and text files. Whilst files can be previewed without needing to leave the OneDrive app, Office files can be opened in the corresponding iOS app (such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint) or a third-party app such as Adobe Reader (for PDFs) or an image editing tool.
Make files available offline
Whilst we are almost continuously connected to the internet across the various devices we use, having the option to guarantee access to certain files and folders, regardless of online status, can put us at ease, safe in the knowledge that those documents can be viewed whenever required. OneDrive offers users the ability to make any files or folders available for offline access, synchronising any changes that are made as soon as the device has an internet connection again. Regardless of internet connection, however, file and folder structure can be navigated all the time.
Create new documents from within the app
When using the OneDrive app, you can navigate to your chosen folder and create several new document types. Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents can be created, a new photo or video can be taken (with the finished product saved into OneDrive), and even scans can be produced and saved to the app (more on this later).
Upload files from your device
Any files that currently reside on your iPhone or iPad can be uploaded to your chosen folder in OneDrive. Locations from which files can be uploaded include your photo and video storage, local iPhone storage and even files that are currently stored in your iCloud Drive or Dropbox account (if you have either of these set up on your device).
Scan a document, whiteboard or business card and save into OneDrive
The OneDrive app has its own built-in scanning utility that can scan hard copies of documents, business cards and even whiteboards. Activate the scanner and hold the device in front of the document/ card/ whiteboard – the app will then intelligently discover the edges of the surface and optimise the scan on-the-fly. Once you are happy with the result, the scan is then saved to your pre-selected OneDrive location.
Save photos directly to OneDrive
The most recent release of OneDrive (at the time of writing) provides the facility to automatically save photos and videos to OneDrive, much the same way that the iPhone and iPad currently allow automatic upload to iCloud. This feature is currently only available in personal OneDrive accounts (those not provided by Office 365 business or enterprise plans) but may become available for business users in the future.
Are these features restricted to Apple devices?
No, almost all the features are available for Android and Windows mobile devices, and the Windows and Apple desktop/ laptop software offer further functionality.
Where can I find out more information?
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