With cloud services moving quickly, veteran service Dropbox has unveiled several updates. The enhancements come on the heels of announcements in recent days about the launch of Google Drive, a new API for Box.com, and a new version of Microsoft's SkyDrive.
Dropbox is adding the ability for its users to share files with even non-Dropboxers, via a link. It is also unveiling Dropbox 1.40 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, which allows files to be batch-transferred.
Additional 3 GB
With 1.40, users can also simply connect a phone, camera, tablets, or SD card, and Dropbox will automatically offer to upload all of the photos and videos to the Dropbox account.
Uploaded images can be seen as thumbnails and displayed by month, in a Dropbox Photos page. These uploading features had previously been available only for Android devices, and are now available for computers.
To encourage usage, Dropbox will increase the user's free storage limit of 2GB by 500MB each time auto-uploading is used, up to an additional 3 GB. The additional storage is only available for camera uploads, but is available permanently.
This total of 5 GB parallels the free storage allowed on the newly announced Google Drive service, as well as the amounts available on Box.com and Sugar Sync. Microsoft's SkyDrive's free limit is now 7 GB, down from the initial 25 GB.
Dropbox's upgrades are the latest volley in the cloud wars, as rival services emerge and up the ante. On Monday, Microsoft announced new options for personal cloud storage on the latest version of its SkyDrive service. The options include new apps for storage and device connection, and the ability to grab a file from a Windows PC via the cloud.
'All About Collaboration'
On Tuesday, Google announced its Google Drive, followed a couple of days later by the release of version 2 of Box.com's enterprise-oriented OneCloud, plus the announcement of a variety of new OneCloud partners.
Consumer and enterprise skies are full of clouds these days, as such services are becoming common components of apps, platforms, and devices.
Samsung, for instance, is expected to announce its S-Cloud service on May 3, when it unveils its new Galaxy smartphone. There's also Apple's iCloud, Amazon's Cloud Drive, and device manufacturers are beginning to offer cloud services as an added-value, such as HTC and Asus for some of their products. Meanwhile, the open-source cloud operating system OpenStack has recently been gaining stream, which could propel cloud services.
We asked Current Analysis' Brad Shimmin if he saw many of these new services as genuine platforms. Shimmin replied that, in his definition, a platform requires "an execution environment, developer tools, and an API," and that most of the cloud services are beginning to meet that definition.
The cloud services, Shimmin said, have moved far beyond file-sharing and storage, and "are now all about collaboration." He added that the rise and enhancement of these services is "the realignment of something that was broken by the quick rise of mobility," namely, the ability to easily collaborate with fellow workers.