When it comes to remotely accessing your computer, AirPort Extreme station, FTP, Dropbox or WebDAV servers, Cloud Connect Pro is a staff favorite here at MacStories. Not only the app provides a full-featured solution to connect to all kinds of machines, servers and online services, it also offers a neat way to browse files and media in a Finder-like view for iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. We have covered the app a few times in the past, and I was impressed when Antacea managed to port the whole tablet experience to the iPhone.
The latest 3.0 update, however, makes things look much better with some UI refinements, a new audio player, a proper PDF viewer and some stability enhancements. The app retains all the functionalities of the previous versions, but introduces some welcome features and little touches throughout the whole package that add a new layer of accessibility, communication with iOS built-in tools, and more. For example, Cloud Connect 3.0 can directly play music stored in the iPod.app library, or visualize photos and videos from the camera roll. Songs can be sent to the new audio player’s playlist, which sits at the bottom of the app and displays album artwork, a list of songs waiting in the queue, as well as an AirPlay button to beam music to external speakers. Speaking of which, gone is the hideous Mac-like dock, leaving room for a more minimal bar of icons. Browsing files and folders in Cloud Connect has been improved, too: alongside the (great) column view, the developers have implemented icon-based navigation to tap your way around the filesystem. What’s cool is that you can switch between views with a tap in the toolbar, and a new button in the column view allows you to bookmark, copy, download & compress or delete any file or folder. On top of that, this new version allows you to browse songs and media from the camera roll using your Mac’s Finder by connecting to the “iPad” device under the Shared tab once Cloud Connect is running. This is by far the easiest way to import photos and music off an iOS device and onto an OS X machine I’ve tried, with Cloud Connect acting as a bridge between the two. It works great.
The app could still use some UI polish (I personally can’t stand those blue and grey tones), but I can see why Antacea decided to focus on adding and refining features for now. The lack of a serious PDF viewer, for example, was a major disappointment in Cloud Connect 1.0: the new PDF viewer introduced in version 3.0 is quite fast and responsive, lets you create bookmarks and search for text within a document.
Other features in Cloud Connect 3.0 include Google Picasa support, possibility to use a Mac or PC as a gateway to connect to other Easy Connect computers, and RDP for HP printers only. At $24.99 in the App Store, Cloud Connect doesn’t come cheap but it’s powerful, easy to use and works both on the iPhone and iPad. The app keeps getting better on each release, and I’m looking forward to some serious design improvements in the next version. For now though, Cloud Connect surely is one of the best ways to manage your remote and local connections. (more…)