The Android Market is booming. Amazon’s own Android Appstore is giving away a free paid app every day. AT&T has reversed their position on installing apps from unknown sources. Apps like PicPlz and Socialcam make it easy to create and share video with your friends. The bottom line is, there is just not enough space on your average Android device to keep up. Never fear, the cloud is here! Rather than upgrading your storage, here are a few apps and services that you can use right now to help you offload your data to the cloud and extend your device’s capabilities.
More and more, the cloud is where people are choosing to put their stuff. This is mostly thanks to Google, who just recently took things to the next level and announced a cloud-based laptop called the Chromebook. No need to upgrade SD card or buy a new device… yet. We will touch on apps that let you dump your files into the cloud, as well as apps that provide streaming media to help you skip that step of downloading stuff directly to your device. Keep in mind, relying on the cloud also means pushing your data plan. If you don’t have an unlimited plan and/or don’t have access to WiFi, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your usage.
Mozy is well-known as a popular automated cloud backup solution, but who knew they had such a versatile mobile app? The Mozy app lets you securely access the contents of your backups from your Android phone. Read your documents, browse your photographs, play your music, and share files anywhere, any time. It’s like carrying your entire computer in your pocket.
I was pleasantly surprised by how seamlessly SugarSync works to sync photos and folders. It runs in the background and automatically syncs photos and folders you specify to your cloud storage. These can be accessed from the app on your device, or from the web interface.
As someone who snaps a lot of random photos on my Android, I’ve found this a great help since I can remove photos from my device, but still access them via the SugarSync app. Snap a photo and it’s instantly beamed to the cloud and synced to your other devices. You get 5GB of free storage to start, but join with my referral link and we’ll each get an extra 500MB.
Box for Android will get you 5GB of free cloud storage which you can access directly from your Android device. Easily view, find, and share files with the Box.net app. Also upload files from your device to your Box.net account. Box.net is mostly geared towards business, but even the free account offers a nice way to dump some data into the cloud and free up space on your device.
Probably the most popular cloud storage and sync app around, Dropbox will give you 2GB of free space to start with. The Android app lets you access all the files in your Dropbox from the palm of your hand, and these files can be synced from your computer or other mobile devices. Drop-dead simple to use and you can refer your friends to increase your free storage.
If you are looking for a good amount of storage space in the cloud, Windows Live SkyDrive will give you 25GB of it. The only concern here is that there is no official Windows Live SkyDrive Android app. While Sorami does a good job of allowing you to upload and download data, that is about all it does right now. This means that integration isn’t as smooth as with some other solutions. Still, it provides a way to dump a good amount of data off your device and into the cloud. Of course, this data is also easily accessible from any Internet-connected computer.
Amazon caused a stir in both the music industry and the cloud storage arena when they launched Amazon Cloud Player. This was primarily because they launched a music storage locker in the cloud without the blessings of the major players in the music industry.
The other reason this was interesting is because both Apple and Google were rumored to be cooking up similar services. Amazon beat them both to the punch and will give you 5GB of free cloud storage for your music. Play your music via the web or stream it right on your Android device using the Amazon MP3 app, which also gives you access to buy music directly from the Amazon MP3 Store. For a limited time, you can get an extra 15GB of storage space simply by purchasing an album through their store.
Not to be outdone by the likes of Amazon, Google recently launched their own cloud storage music locker. The cloud piece is still in private beta at the time of this writing, with invites rolling out over the past few weeks. The service is nearly identical to Amazon’s, offering a web interface and complimentary Android application. The differences here are that Google Music seems more official and comes with access to a bunch of free music. There is no MP3 store integration at this time and there is still no backing from the music industry. Accounts are free (for now) and offer the ability to store 20,000 songs as opposed to measuring storage in GB.
Your very own personalized radio station, Pandora is great if you want music and aren’t that picky about what you’re listening to. Tell Pandora your favorite artist, song, or classical composer and it will play a continuous stream of related music for you. No hassle with obtaining and syncing music, no reason to worry about storage space.
While there are still no plans in the works for an Instagram Android app, PicPlz is about as close as you’re going to get. The concept is simple: snap a picture, apply an effect to it, and post it to your social networks. Not only can you post your new photo to all of your social networks at once, but you can check in on Foursquare and have your images copied directly to your Dropbox account.
How does PicPlz save space on your phone? Well, how many photos do you take purely for sharing with friends? Do you need that photo taking up space on your device after that? Probably not. Even if you do, you can access all of your shared photos from the PicPlz app.
Forget digital music. It’s eating away your storage. How about some good old-fashioned radio? While Android does have an actual FM tuner, it’s kind of awkward and requires you to plug in a wired headset as an antenna. Thankfully, TuneIn Radio will let you choose from over 50,000 radio stations, which probably includes your local ones.
Movies, TV Shows, and video entertainment in general will eat away at your storage faster than all those apps you can’t help installing. There are a few different ways to stream video to your Android, but some lucky users now have access to Netflix.
If you have a supported handset and a Netflix account, you can access their huge catalog of movies and tv shows over 3G or WiFi without using up storage on your device. There are only six officially supported devices at this time, but that number seems to be growing rapidly.
Want even more Android apps for the cloud? See our roundup of 11 Android Utilities to Make the Most of Dropbox.