Dropbox adds new business and consumer apps, as former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins the board
Dropbox has introduced a set of new suite of business and consumer applications, that will place it firmly in competition for the hearts of users, with the likes of Google and Facebook.
CEO Drew Houston, hosting a press event in San Francisco, described Dropbox as now being in “Chapter 2″ – a re-conception of the company from mere online storage carrier to a purveyor of business services that revolve around data storage.
“We’re moving from one app called Dropbox to this whole family of apps,” Houston said at the conference. “We are building a home for people on the Internet.
“In the beginning, we were this magic folder that was a container for everything. It wasn’t long before we had all these ideas of how to make your stuff more useful. That is really the heart of the next chapter.”
Dropbox’s newest function is called Carousel, a photo application that enables users to browse and share images stored in their cloud account. This feature clearly puts Dropbox into direct competition with Facebook’s own main app, its Instagram photo-messaging app, and Google’s Drive and Picasa apps.
Carousel, available starting 9 April, also is available as a separate app for iOS and Android devices. It can take images and videos from a user’s Dropbox account and display them on a smartphone or tablet in photo streams, similar to the way photos are displayed in Apple iOS 7 and can be selected out of a horizontal lineup at the bottom of the screen. Thus, the app has a “Carousel” effect.
Dropbox, which has been aimed at consumers – who also have been using the cloud service for business purposes for years – also rolled out an official business version, aptly called Dropbox for Business. It’s a split-personality app in that users can use their regular Dropbox for personal files and have another Dropbox instance for work-related documents. Users can easily access both Dropboxes from any of their devices.
“We did this to give admins more visibility and control over their company’s data,” Dropbox staffer Ilya Fushman wrote in the company blog. “Remote wipe helps protect confidential information, account transfer helps you maintain business continuity, and sharing audit logs let you track how your Dropbox for Business information is being accessed.”
A new business-oriented app called Project Harmony is designed to help enterprise employees quickly see what changes have been made to documents in real time. This is still in development with details to come in the next several weeks.
“Our new initiative, Project Harmony, will let you see who’s editing a file, have a conversation with other editors, and keep copies in sync – all right inside the apps you already use,” Fushman wrote.
Dropbox, which Houston said now serves 275 million users globally after eight years in business, also has updated several of its current apps.
Mailbox, an email application that the company acquired in 2013, will soon be available for Android and Windows devices. Mobile versions will include a new feature called Auto-Swipe, which learns from a user’s routine how to automate certain tasks. Using Auto-Swipe, users can kill spam emails with a single motion instead of having to make a selection and then use another click or function to trash it.
Dropbox’s expansion comes as it prepares for an initial public offering that is expected to take place in 2015. Box, one of Dropbox’s biggest competitors, recently announced its own IPO, which is likely to take place in late Q2.
Now valued at about $10 billion (£6bn), the San Francisco-based Dropbox is well-fortified financially. It recently obtained a $500 million (£298m) line of credit to go with $350 million (£208m) in venture capital funding it banked two months ago.
Dropbox, which like numerous other IT companies has had to fight off nagging security concerns – especially during the last two years – recently added Stanford University administrator and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to its board of directors.
How much do you know about the cloud? Try our quiz!