Dropbox isn’t new. The popular cloud storage service has been around for almost seven years now, which is just about an eternity in app years. But a recent update to its iOS app has brought a handful of productivity-oriented features that make the service a little bit more than just a simple locker for your files. We took the bulked-up Dropbox for a spin to see how so.
First off is the inclusion of a new tab called Recents, which replaces the traditional alphabetized list of items and with a quick and easy view of your most recently accessed files, placed in descending order by date. In practice, it serves as something of an evolving favorites list (though it doesn’t get rid of the traditional one) and makes navigating any heap of cloud files a little more convenient.
iOS users now also have the ability to leave comments on files, a la Google Drive. To add a comment, you just tap a dialogue bubble at the bottom right corner of your screen and begin typing. Comments can be kept strictly for private reference, or you can tag others with the usual @ symbol. Anyone you tag then receives an automatic email notification that includes a link to the file in question.
These “mentions” aren’t limited to existing Dropbox users, thankfully–you can bring other users into the fold, too, just by tagging their email address. When you do tag someone in a comment, they can then leave remarks of their own. You’ll receive email notifications in kind when an invited party does so, but if you’d rather not litter your inbox with notifications, you can turn those off by tapping the “Notify Me” icon at the top left corner of the Comments menu. This is as simple as it should be.
These aren’t the only ways Dropbox plans on making its app handier for work. According to the company’s official blog, you’ll be able to open Microsoft Office documents from inside the app itself sometime in the coming weeks. Tapping “Create New File” will launch whatever Office program you want, including Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Any changes you make will be automatically saved to your Dropbox cloud. The app currently lets you open Office files from your Dropbox in Office Online, but this would appear to be a much more integrated solution–not to mention a beefier way for the service to match the online productivity gains made by Google Docs and the like.
As for the upgrades available now, we found them to work seamlessly in testing; the light additions to the UI were just that, light. This is good, as the last thing anyone wants is to have to relearn to use an app they may rely on daily.
The new and improved Dropbox iOS app (version 3.9, officially) is available now as a free download from the App Store. It requires iOS 7.0. There’s been no word on when these changes will be coming to Android, but the new commenting feature is also currently available for the web version of the service.