Dropbox is launching a number of new tools to make how you work a little easier. Following updates to its iOS app in June, the latest version, launching today, is packed with four new features the company says will make collaborating with coworkers from iPhone 7s even simpler.
“The focus of it is really giving them the productivity that normally would only get on the desktop machine with a big screen and a physical keyboard, to mobile and their on-the-go productivity,” Matt Pan, group product manager for Dropbox’s file collaboration product group, tells Fast Company.
More than half of Fortune 500 companies use Dropbox for Business to manage some aspect of their company. The cloud service currently has over 500 million users, 200,000 of those Business customers, who between them have created a mind-boggling 3.3 billion sharing connections. That’s a lot of collaboration.
Recognizing that, Dropbox brought a number of new features to improve collaboration on the platform in its June update. Aimed specifically at Dropbox for Business users, the new tools brought functionality such as document scanning and the ability to create Office files on the fly, to the company’s iPhone app, making it closer to a solid replacement for a desktop computer for workers who are out in the field or even just away from their desk.
Tuesday’s announcement brings that effort into sharper focus.
Now if you need to send a Dropbox file to someone you’re chatting with over iMessage, you can do it in-line within the conversation. Files are displayed in iMessage with a small preview. When your recipient clicks on it, the Dropbox app launches if he or she has it installed on their phone. If not, then it launches the file in a web browser.
“Our approach here is to integrate with the tools that teams are already using today,” says Pan. Rather than getting everyone to switch over to a new messaging client, this allows users to just include Dropbox in communications they were having already. Unlike some of the other features announced Tuesday, this one also works on Android. That means Android users will see a rich text message when you share a file, and be able to launch directly into the Dropbox app on their phones as well.
Dropbox already had an integration with DocuSign for signing important legal documents. Now there’s another tool for signing things on the fly directly within Dropbox on your smartphone.
“We really designed this for a set of lightweight use cases,” says Pan. He says the company sees people using the feature for things like letters and notes or term sheets.
The feature works for PDFs that are sent to you, but thanks to the document scanner added in Dropbox’s June update, you can also create a PDF of a paper contract while you’re at a client’s office on the spot and sign it on your phone without leaving your chair. The hope is to remove the friction of printing documents, signing them, and scanning them back in or exporting a document from Dropbox in order to sign it using another digital service.
Dropbox previously had a widget that showed recently changed files, but this takes things a step further, bringing some of the features previously only available within the app to the lock screen.
Once you update to iOS 10 (which you should do now if you haven’t already), you can view, create, and upload files directly from the Dropbox widget. The widget also allows you to do things like scan documents, perfect for when you need to quickly snap a picture (or creating a “scan”) of that restaurant receipt for your expense report later.
There’s nothing worse than making notes on a document only to discover that one of your coworkers has updated it in the meantime and you’re taking notes on an old, outdated version.
Now when you’re viewing a Dropbox file on mobile, the app will let you know instantly if someone else makes any changes to it using a bar will appear at the top of page with the person who made the change’s name and avatar. That means you can hit that refresh button and see the latest version now.
The app also now supports picture-in-picture and, in the coming weeks, Dropbox also plans on rolling out split-screen support for the app, so you can work in Dropbox while you’re also looking at email or doing something else on your iPad. And while everything is iOS-only for now, Android users can expect to gain access to some of the features over the coming weeks and months as well.