Dropbox announces new services, sets sights beyond cloud storage

Dropbox shook up its service on Wednesday, announcing a slew of updates and new services designed for work and play alike. Amidst the flurry of announcements, one thing became startlingly clear: Google Drive may have the cheapest consumer cloud prices around, but Dropbox wants to be more than just a simple storage locker.

Of Mailboxes and Carousels

After innovative email app Mailbox won the hearts of iPhone users in February of last year, Dropbox gobbled it up in March.

While we’ve heard barely a peep about Mailbox since, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston took the stage in San Francisco today to announce that Mailbox is now available on Android, with a beta Mac version hitting sometime in the near future. You’ll be able to sign up for the limited beta through the Mailbox website, according to TechCrunch, though no registration appears yet.

Beyond the cross-platform availability, Houston also showed off a new “Auto-swipe” feature for Mailbox, which pays attention to the unwanted email that you archive to automatically archive junk that lands in your inbox.

From the Mailbox blog: 

Today, we’re proud to announce a new service built directly into Mailbox that learns from your swipes and snoozes to automate common actions. Mute that thread you don’t care about, snooze messages from your friends until after work, and route receipts to a list–automatically. We call this service Auto-swipe.

Dropbox is adding another offshoot app to its mobile arsenal, as well: Carousel. The app’s headed to both iOS and Android, and it’s basically a photo and video manager. Carousel pulls the pics from your phone and your Dropbox account and organizes them by time, date, and events. Any new photos you snap on your phone can be automatically backed up to Dropbox’s cloud. Carousel will also include sharing and social features.

Look for Carousel to hit the App Store and Google Play later today.

Project Harmony

Dropbox doesn’t have an online productivity suite, so it can’t offer the full-blown collaboration features found in Office Online and Google Docs, which are powered by rival OneDrive and Google Drive clouds, respectively.

But today, Houston announced a nifty-sounding workaround: Project Harmony, which brings Dropbox-powered collaboration features to Microsoft Office files.

Project Harmony is built more for business use, and it allows you to see when another person is editing a shared file or even have a conversation with the person tinkering with a file, all from right within the Office software itself. Dropbox didn’t announce many specifics today, but promises to dive into detail on the Dropbox blog on Friday.

Built for business Dropbox also announced that its enterprise-ready Box competitor, Dropbox for Business, has left beta stage and is now available to all. To be honest, the bulk of features in Dropbox for Business appeal more to IT admins than general users, but there are some aspects that help make BYOD less of a PITA.

Notably, Dropbox for Business allows users to link personal accounts and business Dropboxes, then maintain the separate storage areas for work and personal files.

Admins get full control over the work side of things–including crucial remote wipe and sharing management capabilities–but have no sway on the play side. And yes, you can be logged into both at the same time, with no need to hop back and forth between accounts.

Dropbox also boasted that it’s up to a whopping 275 million users, and that the service is used in 97% of Fortune 500 companies–but it didn’t specify just how many of those are paid accounts.