Dropbox (News - Alert), a cloud-based storage platform that has 100 million users, recently released Dropbox Preview to let users quickly glance at the contents of their folders. This is something of a paradigm shift for Dropbox who has made file hierarchies and names explicit in the past. However, in the age of hidden file structure, slideshows, and mobile devices, users have come to expect a greater visual emphasis from their services.
Dropbox's website now lets users see inside common filetypes when viewing their files on the Dropbox site, a feature very similar to the Mac OS X Quick Look. Filetypes included in Dropbox Preview are RTF, PDF, Microsoft (News - Alert) Word, and Power Point. Yes, Excel is missing from this list, but Dropbox has made assurances that it will be available soon. The Preview feature is already available in Dropbox's Android (News - Alert) app as well.
Along with the Preview feature, Dropbox rolled out a thumbnail view for users' photos, which now appear arranged in chronological order along a grid. Dropbox has made several changes lately to emphasize visual elements. One such change is that users can select photos from the Web viewer and share them directly to Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert).
Dropbox's success stems from the fact that it is accessible and is interoperable across platforms, so it is somewhat surprising that the Preview feature is not immediately available on all operating systems, but these changes will be coming to iOS and desktops soon, according to Ramesh Balakrishnan, one of Dropbox's engineers.
Looking ahead, Dropbox will have to balance their trademark minimalism with the needs of web 2.0 and mobile consumers. Although the new features are meant to simplify sharing, some users may be surprised by the changes. However, Dropbox will be rolling out the new features over the next several months, so users should be able to adapt to the changes.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman