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Boxie is a free Dropbox-based app currently available in the App Store for iPhone users, but it might even be better than the original. It provides users with the same basic capabilities as the official Dropbox app, while adding some much needed features. You're able to view files and folders, share documents, stream video files, view images, and even upload documents directly from your iPhone. But what sets Boxie apart from the official Dropbox app is its overall look and feel combined with added features unlocked through an in-app purchase.
Originally released in October of 2013, Boxie was listed at $1.99. After a couple of updates, the price jumped to $2.99, which was then quickly negated by another update adding an in-app purchase and dropping the basic app's cost to free.
The setup process for Boxie is pretty simple. After downloading the app you'll need to authorize it with Dropbox, granting Boxie permission to edit and control files in your Dropbox account. Having the official Dropbox app installed on your iPhone speeds up the process, as it uses the Dropbox app to carry out the authorization process. Not having the official Dropbox app installed will require you to go through the authorization process via the Web, but it's important to note you don't need to have the Dropbox app to run Boxie.
After you've given Boxie permission to access your Dropbox account, you go through a quick tutorial covering the basic gestures and navigation for the app. In the past I've said tutorials aren't warranted, and something I discourage developers from doing. But the gestures used in Boxie are something you will have a hard time discovering on your own, so make sure you pay attention to it and don't skip through.
Where Boxie differentiates itself from the official Dropbox app is in its overall look along with the way users interacts with their files. Gestures are an integral part of the app, enabling shortcuts to basic and advanced features. By swiping left-to-right on a file, for example, you'll be able to bookmark an item, download it for offline use, open sharing options, or open an additional menu for even more options such as renaming. Swiping right-to-left across a file or folder deletes it. Should you accidentally delete a file, you can easily undo the action.
With Boxie you can manage your entire Dropbox account, deleting files, moving and organizing filers and folders, sharing, and of course viewing. The photo gallery option makes it easy to quickly view a lot of photos, select multiple photos to share, and organize them.
When it comes to viewing files, Boxie has the built-in capability to unpack ZIP files and view the contents. This is a huge boost over the official Dropbox app, which acts as if it's going to unpack a ZIP file, only to tell you it can't open the file. You then need to download a third-party app to view the contents.
Sharing files can be done through the normal means, by sending a Dropbox link through Twitter or Facebook, via e-mail or text message, and the like.
There are sound effects for nearly every interaction throughout the app, most of which sound very reminiscent of the sounds throughout Tweetbot 2. Don't worry, if sound effects aren't something you find beneficial to an app, you can disable them in the Settings.
The basic features are what's included in Boxie for free. The magic of Boxie's features happen with the in-app purchase that Boxie refers to as the Power Pack.
The Power Pack will set you back just under $3, but that's a small fee for what you get in return. The biggest feature, for my use of Dropbox at least, is push alerts. You not only will receive alerts if you're using the app that a file or folder has changed, but you'll also receive push alerts on your iPhone when files are added or deleted from your account.
This is a critical feature for someone who is routinely waiting for files to be added to Dropbox. I do a weekly video series for another publication, and before Boxie I was constantly having to open Dropbox on my iPhone to check whether the audio files had been added to a shared folder. Now with Boxie, I receive an alert in near real-time (I've seen the alerts show up instantly, or take as long as 10 minutes to show up on my iPhone) and can begin working on the files as soon as I see the alert. Why the official Dropbox app requests permission to send you alerts but then fails to do so is beyond me.
Also unlocked in the Power Pack is the ability to view and restore past revisions of files along with deleted files. This comes in handy should you accidentally delete something, or need to recover an older version of a document.
In addition to the normal sharing methods, the Power Pack also offers a direct-sharing option for fellow Boxie users.
I've already more or less stated this, but it's worth clearly stating: Boxie is the best Dropbox app available for iPhone. There are only two drawbacks I see with the app right now.
The first is the lack of an iPad version. I do most of my mobile Dropbox management on my iPad. Being forced to work on a smaller screen isn't a deal-breaker as the most valuable part of Boxie for myself is the push notifications, but it's definitely an app that would be great on the iPad.
The lack of automatic uploads for photos and videos, akin to Dropbox's own Camera Upload feature, is the other drawback.
With Boxie on my iPhone, aside from leaving the official Dropbox app installed only to handle authorizing third-party apps that integrate Dropbox (such as iA Writer and 1Password), I see no reason to even launch the Dropbox app anymore. I only wish I could have it on iPad.