Amazon has quietly joined the ranks of cloud-based file syncing services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive. The company’s Amazon Cloud Drive — previously limited to a rather primitive web-based interface — now offers desktop file syncing tools like those found in Dropbox.
To test out the new Cloud Drive syncing, grab the new desktop app for Windows or OS X (sorry Linux fans, currently there is no desktop client for Linux).
Once you’ve installed the new Cloud Drive app, you’ll find a new folder on your drive — drop whichever files you’d like to sync into that folder and they’ll automatically be sent to Amazon’s servers. You’ll then have access to them on any computer with Cloud Drive installed and through the Cloud Drive web interface, though what you can do with files in the web interface is extremely limited.
It’s worth noting that the Cloud Drive app requires Java. As our friends at Ars Technica point out, that means users with newer Macs will be prompted to install Java as well (the Windows app comes with Java bundled).
There’s also no mobile apps for any platform (there is an Android Photo app, but all it does is send photos from your phone to Cloud Drive). In fact, while Cloud Drive will sync files between desktops, beyond that there isn’t much to see yet.
Part of the appeal of any web-based sync tool is ubiquitous access, not just via the web but in your favorite mobile apps as well and in that space Dropbox clearly has a huge lead over Cloud Drive.
Amazon offers 5GB of Cloud Drive storage for free, with additional storage available at roughly $.50/GB, which is down from the $1/GB price back when Cloud Drive first launched. That’s on par with SkyDrive’s pricing and roughly half the price of Dropbox. In this case though — at least right now — you get what you pay for. Amazon has the makings of a Dropbox competitor but it still has a lot of catching up to do.