Preview: Box.net's jumbo-size iPad app

The company has been able to do a few new tricks with the bigger screen that could make it worth the download, and we get a sneak peek.

Box

Storage and collaboration service Box.net has an upcoming iPad app and was nice enough to give CNET an early demo. That is--we saw the same version that will be hitting the App Store but running on Apple's iPad SDK simulator.

The good news for fans of Box's iPhone and iPod Touch app is that they're getting what is arguably a more capable piece of software, with the same price tag as its smaller sibling: free.

The big upgrade in moving to a larger screen is, of course, size itself. This has allowed the company to introduce a two-pane navigation control system that can tuck itself away when you hold the device in portrait mode.

Yet, even when held in portrait mode, the file browsing menu can still be accessed, which is similar to how Apple reworked the in-box and reading pane within its Mail app. This lets you go through stored photos, videos, and office documents without having to switch back and forth between menus as must be done on the iPhone/iPod. The functionality has also allowed Box to do something it doesn't even do on its own Web site, which is to let users view user comments about a file while viewing the file itself.

Box's iPad app has a two-pane interface that lets you see a full preview of a saved file, and your stored items in one view. (click to enlarge)

Of course there are quite a few things missing from Box's iPad experience that users will still have to flock to a regular computer in order to enjoy. The main one being the instant file previews the company recently introduced . On the Web, these let you view all sorts of file types without needing to have any special plug-ins, or the actual software application installed.

Box's CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie told CNET that such a feature will be coming in a future iteration of the app. In the meantime, the company is working on partnering with other iPad apps that can make edits to such files, so that the app can spit the user and the file over to that application from the Box.net app.

A few other things that are missing but on the road map for future iterations of the software include local caching of files to the device, uploading files from the app (which the company's iPhone/iPod app can do with photos), and the inclusion of Box's Web-based document editor . This last piece of the equation could end up being a viable alternative to Apple's iWork software for the iPad, yet with the capability to then go in and edit your work back on a regular computer without any special software.

iPhone users with their now-tiny screens should not be too dismayed with the introduction of this app though. Levie says the company plans to keep both versions as close to parity as possible, with future features like local caching, and search rolling out at the same time.

After the jump are a few more shots of the app, which the company hopes will be available on the App Store come iPad launch day this weekend.


Just like on the iPhone version of the Box app, iPad users can send files to others via e-mail. In the case of the iPad though, you can actually see the item while you're writing your message. Box

Users can toggle between the latest updates to their files, all of their files in order, and the settings menu, all while viewing their content in the main pane. Box

Users can now view comments about a file or shared folder, right next to it--something they can't do on the regular Web-based version of Box. Box
 

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