It was probably inevitable but Canonical, backers of Ubuntu Linux, has released its UbuntuOne online storage service for Android devices. Not only that but there is also UbuntuOne Music, a streaming music service.
UbuntuOne’s entry into the Android market comes at a convenient time as Dropbox, an obvious competitor in the online storage sector, suffers privacy scares. In late June 2011 Dropbox, one of the most popular online storage services, suffered a significant privacy breakdown which allowed anyone to sign into the service as anyone else. The problem was the result of an update to the service which disabled authentication for as many as four hours before being discovered and fixed. Four hours is enough, however, for significant amounts of data to be compromised and understandably many Dropbox users started looking around for alternatives.
One of those could be UbuntuOne which already has an established desktop market among Linux users. UbuntuOne does also have a test version for Windows available but presumably has no major stake in that market.
Android, however, is a different case. Android’s popularity makes it an attractive market for all app makers and given that many Linux users will already be using Android-based phones, UbuntuOne for Android makes perfect sense.
The basic UbuntuOne service is provided free of charge and provides users with 2GB of storage. Higher capacity packages are also available for a fee.
UbuntuOne for Android can be installed directly from the Android Market and adds your Android-based phone to your UbuntuOne setup. Even if you don’t already have an UbuntuOne account it’s simple enough to register for one on your phone so there is no need for a desktop PC.
The UbuntuOne Android interface is very similar to the Dropbox one in that the bulk of the work is done through the files and folders listing. It integrates well with most other applications on an Android phone, so pictures, notes and other files can be added to UbuntuOne through the universal “share” menu. Pictures can also be set to synchronise automatically with the online service as they are taken.
As far as security and privacy goes UbuntOne transfers files using SSL and certificates. Once on the server, however, they are not encrypted. The reason for this, Cristian Parrino, VP of online services at Canonical, told The Inquirer, is that if the files were encrypted it would prevent sharing and streaming from the server.
The basic UbuntuOne service simply synchronises files across machines and phones. In addition to the simple file synchronising service users can also buy a copy of UbuntuOne Music which allows music on the UbuntuOne servers to be streamed to Android devices. UbuntuOne Music can be downloaded from the Android Market and although marked as free it does in fact cost around $4 a month for the service. Canonical does provide the service for 30 days for free before requiring a subscription.