Review: Bitcasa for Android v.2 provides seamless cloud storage

Clean, consistent design gives users cross-platform access to unlimited virtual drive of legacy and mobile data.

I spent part of the weekend testing the beta of Bitcasa Android version 2, a cloud storage app that the company calls the "infinite drive." Bitcasa solves two storage problems: capacity and access. For $9.99 per month, Bitcasa provides unlimited storage for PC and mobile data - 100GB or 100TB are available for the same price. Once stored on Bitcasa, the files are available to all devices. So a Word document stored on a laptop is available on a tablet in the appropriate native data format. Likewise, an iTunes library uploaded to Bitcasa is available on the user’s Android smartphone.

In the short video above, I review the beta Bicasa Android app, opening various file types over Wi-Fi to provide real examples of the user experience (UX). Documents popped opened, photo scrolling was smooth, HD video streaming did not hesitate, and all 80GB of music files from my desktop were available to me on my Android Galaxy Nexus.

Over Wi-Fi, the response times are not noticeably different than local storage, and the experience caching videos and audio prior to replaying them are the same as with Netflix and Spotify. Bitcasa operates a little more slowly over the 4G network than this Wi-Fi experiment.

The app was designed with good navigation and is consistent with Android interaction design principles. Unlike many Android apps, it is not simply a bad copy of an iOS app. This is important, because too often copying an iOS app for Android results in a very unsatisfying UX, due to differences in the UIs of the two platforms.

Bitcasa encrypts user data before it leaves the device, so it can’t be read by Bitcasa or third parties. User data is replicated multiple times on the Bitcasa platform to provide for recovery from either a catastrophic failure affecting the user data stored on local devices, or in the Bitcasa data center. The user can also recover lost data chronologically. So a user who deletes large parts of a document by accident could dial back to the time just before the deletion and recover the document.

Although it is better in this release than in the last version, the music app is still a work in progress. Under some conditions when music files and directories are not explicitly named, the uploaded files could be difficult to navigate. In such case, restructuring the file names prior to storage will be necessary. Now, this would be done manually, but Bitcasa product manager Luke Behnke provided a peek into Bitcasa’s music road map, which includes a plan to make this restructuring automatic in the future.

Most notably, no matter where the data originated, PC, MAC, Android, iPhone and even a Chrome beta, it is available on the device the user chooses at that moment.

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