There are many cloud storage services available these days (SkyDrive, Google Drive, SugarSync, Box and even Apple’s iCloud), but in my mind, Dropbox reigns supreme. I love the file management system, the ease of syncing content between devices, and the manner in which I can share files with others. Simply put, I’m a Dropbox fanboy.
Just before the holidays version 2.0 of Dropbox was released, bringing with it a brand spanking new design and new features geared towards uploading and managing photos. Having put away my ugly sweaters and wiping the eggnog from my chin, I’m ready to let you know if version 2.0 is a winner. All you have to do is hit the jump.
A Redesign to Love (Or Hate)
Whenever a development team decides to change the design of an app, they risk stepping on a lot of user’s toes (feeding into the notion that people dislike change). Personally, I love seeing new designs and believe it’s important for apps to update their look every so often, or risk becoming stale. Pre-version 2.0, Dropbox featured a very light, monochromatic design filled with gray gradient bars. Now, the app sports bright blue headers and a dark monochromatic navigation bar.
On their blog, Dropbox states, “We’ve packed a ton of love and tiny details into our new iOS design, and we think you’ll dig its simplicity.” Based on iTunes reviews and user comments on Dropbox’s blog, there are a large number of users that simply do not like the redesign (especially the updated app icon), calling it “childlike,” “gross” and “ugly.”
I admit, I was taken aback when I open the updated app for the first time (the brighter blue was the most surprising), but overall I find the design to be pleasing. Probably one of the more interesting but enjoyable design choices was the removal of text in favor of icons. This change is the most evident in the navigation bar, which no longer features label text. In addition, the Edit button has been replaced with a simple check mark icon.
A New Way to Upload
Another major change in version 2.0 is the removal of the Uploads tab, which required you to upload files in a dedicated section of the app. Now, you can simply navigate to a folder in the Dropbox tab and tap the + icon to begin the upload process (you can also create a new folder by tapping the + icon). From a usability standpoint, I really appreciate this change. Before, you’d have to jump between multiple tabs to upload and then view your files. Now, you can do both in the same area.
In June 2012, Dropbox introduced a new automatic photo/video upload feature in version 1.5. I’m sure many of you are familiar with how the feature works, but essentially whenever you open the app it begins to immediately upload any photos/videos in your camera roll that weren’t present since the last time time Dropbox was used. The feature is opt-in, meaning it’s not turned on automatically. In my experience I’ve found the feature to be really useful and works without a hitch; but I get the feeling that a lot of you might be asking why you should use Dropbox to upload and store their photos.
In an interview with The Next Web in December 2012, Dropbox Product Designer Mogan Knutson and Product Manager Aseem Sood stated that over the past few years, their team noticed users (especially ones that use a mobile device) are using Dropbox for photos more than anything else. With iCloud’s Photo Stream feature, it would seem there’s little or no need to use a third-party service to manage photos, unless you’ve found Photo Stream to be a bit unreliable (which is the case in my experience).
Once photos have finished uploading in the Photos tab, they’re sorted by date (e.g. today, last week or a specific month and year). Within the photo timeline you can delete, share, favorite, save to your phone’s library (not sure why that’s necessary), copy to your clipboard or print a photo. Photos are saved to a Camera Uploads folder that’s generated when you activate the automatic upload feature; so, if you want to move your photos/videos to a different folder you’ll have to do it within the Camera Uploads folder (the option isn’t available in the Photos tab).
The Bottom Line
Dropbox 2.0 is a solid update that provides a friendlier user experience from the previous version. Honestly, I don’t capture many photos with my iPad but I take a large number of screenshots for articles such as this one, so I’ll certainly find a great deal of use for the new photo features. As stated before, the new design won’t be universally loved, but I find it to be an improvement over the previous design.
What’s disappointing, though, is the lack of important features that still are not available in the app. For starters, users are able to create a sharing link for an individual file, but not a folder, which is a feature that’s available on website and desktop apps. In addition, there’s no way to rename a file or folder, move folders, or even sort files by different views (e.g. date, time, file size). Until these types of features are implemented, Dropbox merely remains a good app for a great service.