Droplr: From Bits to Gigabytes

Droplr is one of those solutions that not many people have heard about. When it comes to cloud-based storage, for personal use Dropbox really does rule the roost — and it’s pretty easy to see why. There’s plenty of free storage and you get more when you tell your mates about the service (I’ve already scooped up 4 GB through referrals, which isn’t too shabby), plus it works pretty much on any computer and on any mobile device. The API also makes it really easy for developers to integrate it into their applications, and there’s currently over 100,000 applications on the Dropbox platform across all devices.

So what about Droplr then? I first found about it through Tweetbot, one of my favourite iPad Twitter clients and since then I’ve used it for pretty much everything, from images to links and even videos. For some people, it may be a second option or an alternative to Dropbox (sharing is much easier, for example) and for some (me included), it may become your only stop for cloud-based storage. Here’s why.

Like this article? Stay up to date with the latest changes by subscribing to our RSS feed or by following us either on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or App.net.

The Birth of Droplr

Droplr was started by Josh Bryant (who I spoke to for this feature) back in April 2009 who pitched it to his co-founder, Levi (both are still based at the company) and is currently headquartered in Bend, Oregon, a city infamous for having the most overvalued real estate market in the United States (according to Time, anyway) The private beta of the service launched in November 2009 and at the end of 2011, the service was launched with a better infrastructure that was built to deal with the scale of Droplr.

Of course, it’s no small affair — although the basic accounts come with 1 GB of storage space, which is certainly not to be sniffed at, the Droplr Pro accounts (currently priced at $3.99 monthly) come with a whopping 100 GB of space. When you’re charging money for this much storage, your infrastructure really needs to be top-notch.

The homepage of Droplr.

The homepage of Droplr.

Droplr is, in my mind, the storage solution for hipsters — people who want to stray away from the mainstream products and look at an alternative solution. It’s certainly priced favourably against the competition: at $3.99 for 100 GB of storage space monthly this is cheaper than Dropbox ($9.99 monthly), Box.net ($23 monthly for 50 GB) and Microsoft’s Skydrive (around $50 for 100 GB).

Why Was Droplr Created?

Let’s hand this one over to Josh:

Droplr was originally created for the same reasons that people still use it today. There was no single great solution out there for just simple file sharing. Everyone at the time was working on better alternatives to email (i.e. chatting real time) but nobody had cracked a better alternative to email attachments (i.e. sharing files real time). I was working with a developer at the time that I eventually became friends with, and both of us were so frustrated with the lack of tools to accomplish this, that I pitched it to him as a side project and then we went off and created it.

As an app reviewer, innovation really excites me. Droplr was up against more established competition (Dropbox, for example, has been around since about 2007) but it has carved out a name for itself in an already-saturated market. And we love it too. Matthew Guay, one of my fellow Editors, recently wrote an excellent piece on why he’s switched from CloudApp to Droplr, citing the first-class web experience, smarter links and the range of Pro features as the main reasons for his switch.

It’s Everywhere, Including on the iPad

Integration is key for any cloud service. Sure, it’s nice to have your own web interface but if you can spread the word about your service through other applications, then you’re onto a winner. That’s why Buffer became so popular in such a short space of time — the developers integrated it into a wide range of applications and consequently the word spread like wildfire. Droplr is the same — although it’s not as widespread as other solutions it’s still in some pretty impressive applications, including two of our favourite Twitter clients, Tweetbot and Twitterific, as well as Basecamp (which I use for communicating with my other writers on this site and across the AppStorm network), Kickoff and Felix.

Droplr on the iPad is a sheer joy to use.

Droplr on the iPad is a sheer joy to use.

The release of the iPad application back in July cemented Droplr‘s place among the big boys. And it’s pure joy to use, by the way — purely because it breaks away from the norm. Josh mentioned that the iOS version of Droplr was a particular pain to code. Even such simple items like the progress bar and the custom navigation bar required lines and lines of code, because the developers decided to rely on a completely customised user interface, rather than something that could be knocked together in a few minutes.

In my mind, this shows the dedication to the cause — and Droplr on iOS is fantastic. There’s no automatic upload feature for your camera’s photos, such as on Dropbox, and the iOS applications don’t (yet) support Droplr‘s Pro statistics, but you can manage pretty much everything from your device and shorten links on the move (if the app you’re using doesn’t yet feature Droplr integration). The whole user experience is clean, clutter-free and really simple to use — and I heartily approve it.

Looking Into the Future

Unfortunately, Josh hasn’t revealed too much in this department, but he has promised me:

…some fun stuff releasing here very soon along with many long term plans that I believe will really set Droplr apart as the solution to share files.

So fingers crossed, really.

Droplr was conceived to bridge an existing gap in the market, as there wasn’t really one single application that could handle fast, native file sharing — and they’ve bridged this gap extraordinarily well. Sure, Dropbox is great for storing all your files but I tend to use it as a backup solution rather than a way to share things with other people. If I have a photo on there, I have to go to the web version, make that particular photo public then share the link. With Droplr (I have the Mac version installed), I just click on the picture and the link is automatically copied to my clipboard. The domains look neat on e-mails, and you wouldn’t be afraid using it in a business context. It’s file sharing at its most simple.

What’s also great is the range of little features. With the Mac version, you can drag the file you want to share right into the menu bar and it will automatically be copied and uploaded. Now that’s simplicity at its best (don’t worry, there’s also a client for Windows as well!). It’s all these little features that really make Droplr an attractive solution for simple file sharing and, strangely enough, it’s extremely addictive. Nowadays, Dropbox simply acts as a backup for my iPhone’s pictures and a few important files.

But what I really admire about Droplr is the passion and enthusiasm behind this seemingly innocent app. There’s a clever team of engineers, designers and developers — all fronted by the headman Josh — working on some awesome features and 4 bucks a month is, in my opinion, just a small price to pay to support such a great team. Matt ended his review stating, “…sometimes, it really is the little things that count most”, and I’d like to reiterate this point right here. Droplr is file sharing for hipsters, but one that I believe will definitely become mainstream in a very short time.

Those little things won’t be little for much longer.