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Transferring Geographic Data Files To And From An Android Unit II



Second part of a series (part one here) on how to copy map files and other geographic data to and from your Android phone.

3. Awesome Drop

A somewhat unusual approach, but seems to work quite well. Install the Awesome Drop application on your Android unit:

Application Name: Awesome Drop

Description: Web-based file transfer to your Android unit.

Publisher’s website: Dashwire

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.1.0  /  9-16-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.1

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Android market link


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Figure 1: Run the app, and you’ll get the rather cryptic screen above.

Now go to the Awesome Drop website with an HTM5-compatible browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari or IE9), and you’ll get this screen (Figure 2):

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Enter this numeric code into Awesome Drop on your Android unit, and the unit and website will now be linked. Drag and drop a file onto the screen on the website (Figure 3):

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And it will be transferred automatically over to your Android unit, and copied into the “drop” folder on your unit’s sdcard (Figure 4):

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To copy or move the file into the appropriate destination directory, you can use Android’s built-in file manager program “Files”; I prefer using a more advanced file manager program like Astro File Manager (see link below). Since Awesome Drop only transfers files from a computer to your Android, but not from your Android back to your computer, it’s a bit limited. You can, however, use Astro File Manager to email a file to yourself or someone else; select the file in Astro File Manager, choose “Send”, then use the email account of your choice to email it. Not always convenient, but sometimes useful.
Application Name: Astro File Manager

Description: File system explorer/manager.

Publisher’s website: metago

Cost: Free; ad-supported.

Version/date reviewed: v.2.5.2  /  9-16-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.1

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Android market link


Video of Awesome Drop:

4. Dropbox (or the fileshare service of your choice)

This is my favorite way to transfer files to/from my Android. While it’s limited by your Internet connection speed, it offers a lot of flexibility:

  • Transfer files simply by dragging and dropping them into your PC’s Dropbox folder, then uploading them on your Android.
  • Copy files from your Android unit to your Dropbox folder to transfer them onto your PC.
  • Use public/shared folders to get/share data files from others on your Android unit.
  • Backup critical data files in the cloud.
  • Upload files from any computer, even those that don’t have Dropbox software installed, using the Dropbox website.

First step is to get a Dropbox account; while there are paid versions that offer more storage, you can get 2 GB of data storage for free. Register on the website, download and install the software (PC and Mac), then set up the Dropbox folders you want on your computer. Next, install and run the Dropbox app on your Android unit, and enter your registration info.
Application Name: Dropbox

Description: Android app for accessing Dropbox-synced folders.

Publisher’s website: Dropbox

Cost: Free for 2 GB storage; paid plans for more.

Version/date reviewed: v.1.01  /  9-16-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.1

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Android market link


For full utility, you should also install Astro File Manager (link above).

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Figure 5: In the Android Dropbox app, you’ll see a list of your Dropbox files and folders. These files aren’t on your Android unit, as they are on PC-synced folders; you have to request they be downloaded to your unit (this keeps your storage requirements down). To download a file to your Android unit from a Dropbox folder, just navigate to the folder its in, and tap on it to select it; it will automatically be downloaded into the “dropbox” folder on your unit’s sdcard. From there, you’ll need to use an app like Astro File Manager to copy/move it to the directory of your choice.

Unlike Awesome Drop, you can use the Android Dropbox app to transfer file data back to your PC by coping files to a Dropbox folder, where it can be accessed and used by any computer that has that Dropbox sync folder on it. To do this with the Dropbox app, go to the folder you want to upload the file to, then choose “Upload” using the menu button. Follow the prompts to select the file you want to upload (you’ll need to have Astro File Manager installed to do this for most file types), and the file will be synced up to any computer that’s registered to your Dropbox account, or any Dropbox user with whom you’re sharing that folder.

One note of caution: With standard Dropbox folders on computers, changes to a file in one Dropbox folder are automatically mirrored on all other Dropbox folders. That’s not necessarily true with Dropbox files on the Android; you’ll have to manually download them again to make sure you have the most recent version. And if you modify a file in the Android’s Dropbox folder, those changes currently will not be synced to all your other Dropbox folders; if you do specifically save that changed file in a different location, those changes can be lost. Dropbox will supposedly fix this in a future release.

There are several other fileshare services that offer Android apps, like SugarSync and ZumoDrive; I suspect they would work as well, but I haven’t played with them that much since Dropbox works fine for me.


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1 Response to “Transferring Geographic Data Files To And From An Android Unit II”


  1. 1 Michael Portuesi

    There is yet another way to transfer files, using Bluetooth. On the Android device, you can install the Bluetooth add-on for ASTRO File Manager. On the desktop, you can use Bluetooth file transfer software. The Mac has “Bluetooth File Exchange” built-in to the OS, and I’m willing to guess similar apps exist for Windows and Linux.

    The Bluetooth approach is a hassle on initial setup, and is slower than WiFi or direct USB, but convenient to use after the initial setup phase.