Dropbox Platform debuts to replace the hard drive altogether

Dropbox Platform debuts to replace the hard drive altogether

Summary: The private cloud storage provider continues to build its own cloud ecosystem with the launch of its first developer conference this week.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Aiming to replace the hard drive altogether, Dropbox is making moves to expand operating as just a simple cloud storage app to a fully-fledged platform of services.

Introduced at the cloud storage provider's first developer conference on Tuesday morning, the Dropbox Platform was touted by the company's CEO and founder Drew Houston as "a new foundation to solve the problems of sync so you don't have to."

He outlined this includes keeping structured data in sync, working offline, handling conflicts, and working across operating systems.

See also: Dropbox's enterprise strategy: Be as 'ubiquitous' as possible

"Sync is the new save. We're never going back," declared Houston, adding this particular feature is a problem that affects everyone.

Referencing Apple to Android to Amazon, Houston posited that "now we have all these companies making this amazing stuff, but the problem is they're all punching each other in the face."

Last November, Dropbox stood at approximately 100 million users strong. As of July 9, Houston said the service now retains 175 million users and is growing "like crazy."

Houston cited that there are also more than one billion files saved to Dropbox accounts everyday from tax returns to wedding photos.

Houston described how Dropbox has filled a void and been used for much more than cloud storage for content but also an online hub for families, friends, and colleagues to communicate and share.

Referencing Apple to Android to Amazon, Houston posited that "now we have all these companies making this amazing stuff, but the problem is they're all punching each other in the face."


Basically, arguing that it's problematic for both developers and end users, Houston described these digital silos as just "new places for your stuff to get stuck."

In the simplest terms, the Dropbox Platform is a set of tools directed toward developers for determining how apps access data across both desktop and mobile platforms and devices.

"We took a complicated problem and invented a simple solution," Houston boasted. "Having Dropbox is the first day of the rest of your life where your stuff is just taken care of."

There are a few major components to the Dropbox Platform:

  • Sync API: Already introduced in February, the API manages caching, network flakiness, and other technical complexities so developers can focus on writing their own apps.
  • Datastore API: Essentially an extension of the Sync API, the Datastore API is described as a model for storing and syncing data beyond files, such as contacts, to-do items and game states -- the last of which garnered the most applause from the keynote audience.
  • Drop-Ins: Cross-platform UI components that should be able to be integrated in minutes. Includes a "Chooser" tool, which provides web and mobile apps with direct access to files in Dropbox, and the "Saver" enables one-click saving to Dropbox. Available for Android and iOS immediately.

The native Chooser and Saver tools have already been integrated into Yahoo Mail.

With more than 100,000 apps already running on the Dropbox Platform, other industry partners include identity manager 1Password, producitivty mobile app CloudOn, and collaboration platform Asana, among others.

For iOS users in particular, Dropbox is already making changes to its recently acquired Mailbox app with these APIs. Although there wasn't a specific drop date announced, Houston promised that a new version is "coming soon."


Screenshots via Dropbox

Topics: Cloud, Software, Software Development, Storage, Web development

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  • Used to love DropBox before NSA

    I used to love DropBox before NSA scandal broke out and I realized that there is no privacy of data in the cloud. Had to disable automatic picture uploads from my smartphone and I want my private pictures to stay private. I had to store my data in "buckets" of encrypted files with TrueCrypt. And now it takes longer to synch, I cannot use certain functions and DropBox does not look that good at all.
    I hope DopBox company understands that Cloud without trust cannot replace hard drive at all.
    • RE:

      It took a news article for you to understand that the NSA was spying? Did you not know that they have had past incidents such as with echelon, a phone room in san francisco which had fiber optic splitters going into it, etc? Did you bury your head in the sand?

      The NSA has been listening and reading all along. We all knew this; apparently you didn't.
      Corona Borealis
      • Corona - as Nostradamus' father told a young Nostradamus,

        "Everyone likes someone who know everything...but no one likes a know it all!"
    • Don't be too hasty ViViViNe...

      I felt the same way but realized they can get to my local HD almost as easily. And the intrusion isn't ALL bad. Last month a local drive crashed and too a dozen irreplaceable home movies with it. But I was able to recover all of them with FOIA requests! ;)
    • BoxCryptor

      Use BoxCryptor instead of TrueCrypt for this. www.boxcryptor.com
    • Better than TrueCrypt

      Check out the open source project: EncFS (http://www.howtogeek.com/121737/how-to-encrypt-cloud-storage-on-linux-and-windows-with-encfs/). It's better than Truecrypt for cloud storage because it encrypts each file individually (and preserves the date/time stamps, so sync works properly again).

      Also, there are EncFS clients for most operating systems (Android, Windows, Linux) so you can access your encrypted data on all devices.
  • Yada, yada, yada

    Yup, another Johnny-come-lately that's gonna revolutionize computing and get all the "big boys" to fall in line.

    Hold on while I get my Palm Pilot, sync it to my Blackberry, port that over to my OS/2 computer here, then back that up on Blu-Ray discs and have the videos display on my 3D-TV. ... now where did I leave those two-color glasses? ...
  • Headline doesn't match story.

    Headline doesn't match story. Dropbox is not aiming to kill hard drives.

    In fact, since it's a sync solution - one of those ends is local sync. It wouldn't really be a "sync" solution if there were no local system to sync to.

    Being a sync solution actually implies permanent storage on the local side - it relies on hard drives, it doesn't replace them.
    • Yah - so much for writer wannabees trying to change the market....

      Anyone who thinks it makes sense to depend even a little on a cloud type of storage has to have their head screwed on totally backwards. Nothing is a stronger reminder than the 1 hour power outage we had several evenings ago, where ALL means of communication were inoperable.... Self reliance still has a very nice ring to it.
      • Huh?

        This is a backup medium. If your power goes out, you still lose access to your data (unless you have a UPS that can power PC and Monitor and another to power your File Server).

        I wouldn't use this exclusively, but for sharing a few pictures, it's OK. If your worry is privacy, then there's a reason not to use it, or to only upload items that are AES encrypted
  • 2012 r2

    M$ has a nasty little Dropbox app that will ship with r2,but only works with W8.

    M$ had it together with ifolder in 2003,but did it's usual why would you want to sell ice cream in the desert marketing job.
    • Drop Box or Sky Drive?

      I assume it's the latter, but I could be wrong. I don't know where this is going. I personally don't use it for very much. I sometimes put a picture there and send a link to someone, but my back up is an OS/program image and constant backups of files. That said, I'm not protected if fire burns the place down a tornado, earthquake, hurricane destroys everything. For that matter, it's possible a lightning strike could wipe it all out. Hmm. Maybe it's time to put everything on an external drive and leave it with a relative out of state.
      • Maybe it's time to use CrashPlan for that!

        Your backup is encrypted before it leaves your machine via the internet bound for the hard drive you have at your relative's house. Just do a seed before you take it there & the updates to it after that won't take that long.

        I subscribe to the "3-2-1" backup theory: keep minimum 3 copies of every file on 2 different storage devices at least 1 of which is offsite!
  • CloudLocker debuts to replace Dropbox altogether

    Here's a story that deserves to be told. There's a new kid on the block called the CloudLocker. It's being crowd-funded on Indiegogo. It's a mini-cloud server that sits in your home where all your stuff is safe from prying eyes and government spies. This is the future of cloud storage. You don't need to give up the "expectation of privacy" which the IRS says you lose for files stored online more than 180 days. You can keep everything secure at home and access it from anywhere. It's better than an NAS since you don't need to set up accounts, passwords and special software to share files and you can get notice every time someone views a file you've shared with them. This is nextgen stuff.
    • Dropbox? NAY!!

      I found their website cloudlocker.it. I believe this is the alternative personal cloud solution we are all seeking to prevent our stuff from getting into the spies' hands or allowing these big companies to mine our data for advertising or other commercial purposes at our expense. Thanks for the lead.
      Mocha Get
      • It's Almost There

        But a "personal" cloud storage solution without RAID'd drives (1 or 5) is nothing more than a toy, IMO.
      • If you want to prevent your "stuff" from getting into wrong hands....

        The ONLY sure way is to keep it offline! When you choose the convenience of online access you are immediately opening up to the risk of someone else accessing it, no matter what "security" methods you may try to employ. Convenience breeds carelessness.
  • The Cloud Isn't Safe and Will Never Be

    Stay away from the cloud if you want your files to be in your own hands. Keep your business with WD and Seagate. I know, my important files are staying right here, locally.
    Corona Borealis
  • Never

    Since the federal government has been exposed regarding its surveillance of private citizens and their data, I'm am not going put any data out that can be traced. In addition, how does a computer boot from the cloud?

    I really don't see how Dropbox is going to replace the HDD, Dropbox can't even guarantee security, let alone address the booting problem.

    No, this is not for me, and screw you government (local, state, federal).
    Steve Matsukawa
  • Dropbox - You can't fix stupid

    Dropbox, and the cloud in general are for idiots, simple. With so many options available for data storage, only idiots would use a cloud data storage system. It's much like facebook and any other "free" service, i.e. google, yahoo, etc, which only serves to mine data and market better your alleged "needs". For as little as $7.99 a month one can easily start a private web page (meaning no one but you can access) and store unlimited data "online" and "access" it from anywhere. But with the price of even a solid state drive of several hundred Gb for less than $150 the issue is "how stupid are you?", not what's safe and what isn't. The cloud will never be safe, never. But if you want to pretend it is, then do so. If you are stupid and don't know any better, then too bad. If you're smart, you're not even here reading or commenting because you already know "YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID". Me, I just hope one or two will grasp the simplicity of this reality, as I enjoy chasing windmills...