Elias Pelcastre

I tried Dropbox Paper on an iPad, iPhone and Android Moto G 2013

It’s been exactly two weeks since Dropbox released Paper, a collaboration tool intended to fight Google and Microsoft market dominance.

Most of the reviews that surfaced during Paper’s launch focused on the desktop use of Dropbox’s new product. But what if you do most of your work on the go? Does paper stand the tablet/smartphone test?

Today I had the opportunity to try Paper. And instead of doing the normal computer test, I decided to take it for a spin on my iPhone, iPad and Moto G.

You can tell right from the beginning that Paper was built for the web; and when I say the web I mean desktop browser web. Nevertheless, Paper is still very usable on a mobile browser.

Paper works great on an iPad. The tablet’s big screen allows you to create and edit documents (almost) like when using Apple Pages or Microsoft Word.

Paper displayed a left hamburger menu where you can quickly create a document, and access your favorite documents (which you can star on the upper right corner) and folders.

Regarding the documents, you can add a title and bullet points, links, or a font to your text. Paper’s main feature is collaboration, but there’s no visible way to start a team or add a member; all of the latter has to be done from your username, in the “Team Settings” tab in the bottom part of the left hamburger menu.

If you invite someone to join the team, they must have a Dropbox account. Otherwise, they will need to create one by clicking on the invite link.

Moving on to the iPhone experience, as you know, Apple’s smartphone has a smaller screen than the iPad. That means that things will be displayed differently on your phone.

Paper keeps a comfortable usability on the iPhone 6 Plus, although things look smaller and more compact.

For example, if someone adds a comment to a sentence, iPad users will see them on the left side of the screen. To see a comment on an iPhone, you will have to tap on the yellow sentence underline.

Paper can’t handle comments very well on mobile; comments make it very difficult to edit sentences that contain yellow underlines, defeating one of Paper’s main purposes.

The good thing is that Paper displays red arrows to indicate who made a change, and “View History” – located on the upper right side of the screen – keeps tab of the times changes are performed. There’s even an “Undo change” button to go back to previous document states.

Paper on Moto G 2013 feels surprisingly fast, and almost like in the iPhone 6 Plus. I didn’t notice any glitches in the relatively short time I used it, although changes didn’t reflect on the iPad as instantly as when typing on an iPhone.

Is obvious that Paper was meant for desktop and laptop computers. But if Dropbox puts some effort, this new tool could be optimized for mobile devices and give the cloud service an edge over competitors.

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