Dropbox, in a continuous battle for market share with Box, Microsoft, Google and several smaller players, on June 22 released a set of new business-oriented features designed to make it easier to move files in and out of its cloud storage service and search on content.
One of the new capabilities that its competitors do not have is an optical character recognition (OCR) scanning tool within Dropbox’s mobile application that enables business users to scan documents with their iPhones and upload the content directly to their Dropbox accounts. This not only saves time and allows for fewer attack surfaces for potential hackers, but it also enables the documents to be searchable for key words.
This scanner and other tools are available for only iOS users at this point. Dropbox wouldn’t say when the new features will become available for Android and BlackBerry phones.
Goal to Make Content More Searchable
“We all still love using analog tools, writing on white boards and using sticky notes and printed pieces of paper,” Dropbox Director of Product Management Todd Jackson said at a press event in San Francisco. “But our goals are to take analog info, help get users into Dropbox, and make it more searchable and accessible.”
Dropbox is now offering a cleaner, more efficient way to create Microsoft Office documents. By pushing a big “plus” button at the front/center/bottom part of the app screen, a user can create Word, PowerPoint or Excel documents. Users also can import documents they scanned with the OCR scanner into the Office folder.
Another new feature is the ability to search for and preview old versions of documents. Lawyers performing due diligence and discovery in litigation will love this feature, due to the constant iteration of business documents.
The ability to call up older docs within Dropbox using search makes it easier for business users to review which versions of documents to which they may want to revert, without having to read each version—which could be a good many—to find the correct one for the job. Other new tools not yet available include the ability to add area-specific comments to documents, as well as the ability to restrict access to specific docs in view-only folders.
Dropbox Basic users now can manage photos from their PCs. They can connect a computer to their Dropbox account to gain better access, organize or remove photos, and avoid running out of space.
Creating a Unified Workspace
To unify teams and workflows within an organization, Dropbox now enables the following:
Sharing files and folders from the desktop: Now when users right-click on a file or folder in Mac Finder or Windows Explorer, they can share right from the desktop, without redirecting to the Web or copying a link to email.
Adding comments to a specific part of a file: It can be hard to make sense of all the feedback users get within emails, chat and text. So Dropbox introduced a feature that’s usually found only in design software: adding comments to a specific part of a file. Users now can give precise feedback by highlighting a piece of text or an image anywhere within a file preview.
Sharing with more control: Sometimes users need to work with a select group of collaborators. Dropbox now enables the sharing of a single file with specific people who will need to log in to see it. It also allows view-only access for specified shared folders.
San Francisco-based Dropbox claims to have 500 million registered users and is a growing presence inside the enterprise community. The company has said it has about 150,000 paying enterprise customers; a majority of the Fortune 500 companies are currently using Dropbox in some fashion (including the free services), Jackson said.