SugarSync Takes on Dropbox, Google Drive with Social Cloud Revamp

Cloud-based collaboration provider SugarSync just rolled out a major overhaul to its service, introducing a redesigned interface and a number of new features.  The revamp is an effort to gain more of the consumer cloud market, which may not be as technical as enterprise cloud users or early adopters with tools like SugarSync, Dropbox or even Google Drive.  And as more cloud companies look to the consumer space, SugarSync is looking to stay ahead of the curve for a very social future.

The UI has been given a facelift, making it even simpler to use than before. The task of synchronizing files to other devices is reduced to dragging them to the “Cloud” section of the remodeled desktop client, which has been minimized to the size of an IM client.  The idea in shrinking the desktop client is to make it less intrusive, and less likely to close.  One thing you’ll notice right away is the re-worked organization of your content.

“We used to have a device-centric view of the cloud,” explains SugarSync’s Robb Henshaw.  “You would click on the device and navigate down the trail. Now we have a content-centric view.”

This single statement is indicative of SugarSync’s core objectives with this revamp–it’s all about the content.  Not only does SugarSync want your content to be more navigable, but more readily shared and always available, with a string of data points to contextualize your relationship to any given piece of content in your SugarSync account.  But this is only a starting point for SugarSync.  Today’s update includes some fresh search functionality to enhance this new take on the cloud, and we can expect to see more functionality with the upcoming introduction of filters.

SugarSync is really looking to encourage more interactivity with its service, so the new desktop client acts like more of a home screen widget, though it still packs a considerable amount of functionality.  From this small-statured client you can manage and sync files, share, view your activity log (also new), and much more.

Also new to the platform is SugarSync Drive, a new panel that displays all the files you have synchronized across your devices. You can download a document saved on your iPhone from to your home compute, edit it, and automatically synchronize it in the cloud by pressing the Save button.  What’s great about this remote-access feature is that it lets you interact with your files without having to load anything to your current device–files retrieved from your home computer via your tablet will be saved locally, letting your tablet act as a conduit.

“As more non-technical users incorporate the Cloud into their everyday life, we’ve made a point to work with our customers and understand what they really need. As a result, we went back to the drawing board and redesigned SugarSync from the ground up,” said Laura Yecies, CEO of SugarSync.

The changes above are accompanied by several others.  Among these, the app now features a Contacts tab that aims to make file sharing easier – you can drop a file or folder to a contact and automatically send it as a link. More permissions have been added as well : shared content can be made available to anyone with the URL address, even if they’re not logged into the site, and documents can be set to view-only. This emulates functionality that Google Drive has been offering for a while, and might just win SugarSync more than a few new users.

While SugarSync is matching some of Google Drive’s features, it’s also exceeding certain Dropbox functions, particularly when it comes to collaboration.  Instead of requiring a recipient to upgrade their account if a file exceeds their data limit, as Dropbox does, SugarSync will let you send the file anyway, granting full access to the receiver.  The expanded accessibility to public and collaborative files also means more people can get the content they need without signing up for SugarSync, and more collaboration can be tracked and managed directly from the SugarSync portal.

The update is currently in public beta, available for download on Windows, Mac and Android, The company says that we can expect iOS support sometime down the road.

Contributors: Maria Deutscher