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Dropbox Brings ‘Unlimited Storage’ With Smart Sync, Collaboration With Paper And New Web Design

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2106. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security and government IT, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

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Dropbox Paper and Smart Sync aim to transform the work experience with new collaboration features

Dropbox is rolling out a number of new features aimed at making its business product as easy to use as its consumer version.

Smart Sync (formerly Project Infinite) and Dropbox Paper are now out of beta and have been released alongside a redesigned Dropbox web interface.

“It’s amazing how far technology has come in the last 10 years, particularly in the consumer realm, in our personal lives,” said Drew Houston, Dropbox CEO, speaking in San Francisco. “But what’s surprising to me, is a lot of this progress hasn’t really made it into our working lives.

“We’re redesigning Dropbox to be fundamentally designed for teams. We’re reinventing sync, bringing a modern collaboration experience to all your files, and launching Paper, a new way to work together that goes beyond the document.”

Smart Sync

First introduced as Project Infinite last April and now available to all Dropbox Business users, Smart Sync gives businesses and individuals access to all of their cloud files without having to download them onto their desktop or laptop.

The files appear on a user’s computer exactly as any others and work in exactly the same way, while taking up virtually no local disk space until it is needed. It works across both Windows and Mac computers and all different file types.

Dropbox Project Infinite

“Companies today have a tremendous amount of information, and it’s growing by the day” said Dropbox CTO Aditya Agarwal. “Most companies have way more knowledge than they can fit onto any one computer so we wanted to migrate the file server into the cloud so we can get all of your company’s knowledge in one place.

“Smart sync is more than a huge technical breakthrough, it solves a very real and acute pain point for our customers. With smart sync you’ll never run out of space again.”

Dropbox Paper

So, you now have constant access to all of your documents, but Dropbox also wanted to “move beyond the document” and that’s where Paper comes in, moving out of Beta mode and now available in 21 languages.

Paper is a flexible workspace that enables teams to work together on documents, using text, images, videos and even code. It’s essentially a ‘live’ environment, giving users a real-time view of any changes that have been made. It can be described as Dropbox’s answer to Google Docs and Box Notes.

Dropbox Paper 2

Users can add due dates for certain actions, assign people to tasks and then keep track of the project as it progresses. Team leaders can see who’s currently viewing file, who viewed it recently and, perhaps most importantly, who hasn’t viewed it yet. Other new features also include a presentation mode, improved search functionality and smart meeting notes with Google Calendar integration.

“Now that we’ve got all your teams files in one place, there’s a lot we can do to make them more collaborative,” said Todd Jackson, Dropbox’ VP of product. “We’ve been working really hard to bring your files to life and you can talk about the work, right next to the work itself.”

“Paper is a space where thinking meets doing,” added CMO Carolyn Feinstein. “We believe deeply that when people work together in a more human and connected way, they grow better ideas.”

New web design

As well as the product updates, Dropbox revealed a new design to its web interface, aimed at helping user to stay focused on tasks while providing easy access to relevant and related content.

It provides a unified feed of updates for a team’s Dropbox files and Paper docs, such as presence avatars to help teams stay up to date on who has viewed shared documents and when. It provides a “real time view of what your team is doing,” Jackson said, where “every action you see is specific to the folder or file you’re working on.”

Quiz: The world of cloud in 2016