Dropbox Moves Beyond The File To Power Cross-Platform Applications

In its latest move from file storage base to cloud-based operating system, Dropbox announced a set of new tools for app builders on Tuesday that syncs app data across platforms.

“Today we move beyond files and folders to store any kind of application data,” Dropbox CEO Drew Houston said at the company’s first developer conference in San Francisco.

Apps can now use Dropbox to sync bookmarks, passwords, to-do lists, preferences, contacts, high scores, and other data between devices and operating systems. That means their users can, for instance, pick up apps on their Android tablets where they left off on their iPhones. Microsoft and Apple offer similar developer tools for syncing files. “We already have 175 million people who have signed up for Dropbox, and they don’t have to have the friction of creating another account,” Houston said of his service’s competitive advantage.

Dropbox also introduced a new version of Mailbox, the email management app it acquired in March. It incorporates Dropbox’s new “chooser” button, which allows an app’s users to access content via their Dropbox accounts. Mailbox users, for instance, can now attach a Dropbox link like an attachment. “This is the first integration that Mailbox and Dropbox have done,” Houston said, “and we’re looking forward to doing a lot more.”

Though Dropbox was founded in 2007 as a cloud storage company, it has recently moved toward also managing its users’ content. It acquired photo app Snapjoy and music management service Audiogalaxy last year, and in January announced a feature for previewing documents without leaving the site and tools for sharing photos from Dropbox to Facebook, Twitter, and email.

As Houston said, Dropbox has 175 million users, up from about 100 million in November, and about 100,000 developers have used its tools in their apps.

[Image: Flickr user, Courtesy of Dropbox]SK