In yesterday’s coverage of iOS 8 for my daily workflow and Transmit, I mentioned that I hadn’t had much time to test document pickers and provider extensions in iOS 8 and that I couldn’t grasp the full potential of Apple’s document management changes in practice. While that still holds true today, I’ve been playing around with the iOS 8 update that Dropbox launched yesterday and I thought it’d be useful to collect my thoughts on the site for future reference.
Posts tagged with "dropbox"
In a blog post, Dropbox announced changes to their paid tier today, cutting the price of Dropbox Pro to $9.99/month with 1 TB of storage and introducing new features for Pro users.
The latest update to the official Dropbox app for iOS, version 3.3, adds a series of welcome improvements. For one, Dropbox has added support for better state restoration, which means the app should remember your position across relaunches (seems like a trivial addition, but Dropbox has long ignored my last-open folder. This, in its seemingly unimportant nature, improves the app dramatically).
Second, Dropbox now comes with better caching, which should use less data and disk space. I still believe that apps should always offer a manual “Empty Cache” feature (Spotify's cache, for instance, constantly goes above 1 GB with no manual controls besides deleting and reinstalling the app), but I'm glad that Dropbox is addressing this issue.
Dropbox 3.3 is available on the App Store.
Mailbox still has plenty of work to do, even on the homefront. There are lots of bugs in the Mailbox for Mac beta, and there are still more email services to add like Exchange and Yahoo, which Underwood says his team is thinking about. But, much as Sparrow did before it, Mailbox is paving the way towards a future where email works faster, syncs instantly between all your devices, and just acts more like the other modern communication apps we use today.
From the preview, Mailbox for Mac already looks pretty great. The “snooze to device” feature sounds genius, and I like the fact that everything (including drafts) sync fast across devices.
Unfortunately, Mailbox is another app I can't use on a daily basis. The app is still limited to iCloud and Gmail, whereas our email runs on IMAP and Exchange. It's not clear whether Mailbox will support IMAP in the future, and I don't think I'll ever go back to Gmail.
Mailbox is also using a “betacoin” system to handle access to the beta: users who got an invitation today received three images of golden coins, which they can share with other users to let them use the beta.
Developed by Francisco Cantu, Fileup is a new OS X utility that lets you quickly share files through Dropbox by dragging them onto a menu bar icon. Unlike other apps that have implemented the same sharing mechanism and user interaction (which Dropbox surprisingly doesn't support with their own menu bar app), Fileup adds filters for file types, integrates with Notification Center, and lets you set up templates for naming files through a simple syntax. The idea is reminiscent of Vemedio's shortlived Sharebox experiment, but, as required by Dropbox, Fileup is a separate menu bar utility that doesn't interact with the official Dropbox client.
With a notice posted on their website today, Loom, a photo storage and management service originally launched in July 2013, announced that they've been acquired by Dropbox and will be joining the company.
Often regarded as "what Apple's Photo Stream" should have been, Loom was designed to keep one library of photos in sync across devices, with support for albums, full-res versions of the original files, and more. Built to let users delete media from their local devices, Loom featured support for both photos and videos, with automatic upload functionalities in a native iOS app and a desktop uploader for OS X.
From Loom's original description:
We needed something that works seamlessly. A personal media library that is the same wherever you go, and there when you need it. Something effortlessly expandable, that can grow with your library, so you never run out of space. Easy to organize and manage, giving you complete control.
That is why we built Loom. We're making it quick and easy for you to access and manage your entire photo and video library on every device, without taking up local storage space.
On April 9, Dropbox officially introduced Carousel, an iPhone and Android app aimed at replacing a device's local Camera Roll with Dropbox photo storage. Carousel displays photos with a vertical grid of thumbnails reminiscent of Loom, and, like Loom, it supports both photos and videos stored in the cloud; unlike Loom, Carousel doesn't have iPad or web clients for now, as it's limited to an iPhone app with basic web sharing features. Loom allowed users to manage uploads on their computers with a desktop uploader, an option that is already available in the official Dropbox app for OS X with automatic Camera Uploads.
From Loom's announcement:
We know this is a big deal. This decision was made with great care. We have worked hard on our product and feel that our vision aligns perfectly with Dropbox’s vision for Carousel. Dropbox has invested the past seven years focusing on building a secure home for your files. And now with Carousel comes a home for your photos and videos as well. We share the common goal of crafting a high quality product, always putting users’ needs first. After spending some serious time investigating if this was the right move for us, we realized that Dropbox has solved many problems around scaling infrastructure and at Dropbox the Loom team will be able to focus entirely on building great features with a fantastic user experience. We are enthusiastic about being able to contribute our ground level perspective to help craft a beautiful experience for our users. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters most to us.
Loom allowed users to set up a free trial with 5 GB of storage and the possibility to extend free space to 10 GB through referrals; the service had both monthly and yearly plans starting at $4.99 and $49.99 respectively for 50 GB of storage.
For existing Loom users, Dropbox has built a migration tool that will transfer photos from Loom to Dropbox; Loom storage will be converted to Dropbox storage for free users, while Loom Pro customers will keep the same storage on Dropbox for free, for a year. Existing Loom users will be able to continue using the service until May 16, 2014; users will also be able to request an archive of their libraries with original photos and videos in a .zip archive.
Loom marks the second acquisition by Dropbox in the past month -- in late March, the company acquired social reading app Readmill for an undisclosed sum.
Photos+, which I first covered in December when Second Gear launched it on the App Store, has today been updated to version 1.1, adding Dropbox integration and finding a new home at SilverPine Software.
Photos+ 1.0 was a simple Photos.app replacement with viewing features that supported EXIF metadata for location, time stamps, and more. From my original review:
Photos+ provides an alternative way to view photos you’ve taken on your iPhone if you don’t like the new Photos app of iOS 7. Photos+ doesn’t have any time or location-based sorting feature – it’s a mosaic of large photo thumbnails displayed in reverse chronological order (from newest to oldest). There are no settings, no filters to exclude screenshots from the list, and no special gestures to learn. As you scroll, you can tap thumbnails to open photos in full-screen; when you want to dismiss a photo, you flick it up or down like a card.
Photos+ 1.1 has kept the app's straightforward approach and visualization of photos, but thanks to Dropbox integration it can now look for photos inside a Dropbox folder. Photos loaded from the Dropbox retain the same options of local photos: you can view metadata, share photos, and open a location panel to see where a photo was taken on a map. Obviously, the app requires a few extra seconds to load a full-resolution photo from Dropbox -- thumbnails are loaded at a lower-res to speed up the experience -- but everything else works just like the old app.
Unfortunately, I can't use Photos+ 1.1 with my current Dropbox photo management workflow because the app doesn't support sub-folders: the app can only load photos stored in a single folder (like the default Camera Uploads one in Dropbox), and this means that I can't currently use Photos+as a photo viewer for my photo collection, which is organized in folders for years and sub-folders for months. I understand that most users who rely on Dropbox for photo storage and management usually keep photos in one folder, but I think it'd be nice to provide a setting to specify where and how the app should look for photos in your account (Carousel, released last week by Dropbox, shares a similar problem).
Photos+ 1.1 is available on the App Store.
Even more ingenious is the way Carousel surfaces photos it thinks you’re most likely to want to see. To start, the app scans every photograph in your collection for human faces. Based on the qualities of the mugs it detects, it assigns each picture a “smile score.” The one with the highest ranking for a given event is displayed with a double-size thumbnail, serving as a sort of hero shot for that subset of pics.
Wired's Kyle Vanhemert talked to Gentry Underwood about some of the UI details in Carousel – as I wrote, there are some fantastic touches in the app. The way thumbnails are generated and deployed is quite clever.