Dropbox unveils a brand-new design and user experience for its desktop app

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston (Dropbox Photo)

Dropbox introduced a new desktop application Tuesday that brings a new look to the file-sharing service as well as new capabilities, thanks to some changes under the hood.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston introduced the new app at a media event in San Francisco, and it will be initially available as part of an early access program. With this release, Dropbox has changed the underlying structure of its desktop application to operate just like any other desktop application, rather than its previous incarnation, which was tied very closely to desktop file systems like Windows File Explorer or Apple’s Finder.

New Dropbox
An overview of the new design for Dropbox’s desktop application. (Dropbox GIF)

“If you went back to literally the original Finder, it’s the same experience,” said Houston in an interview with Fast Company, which was allowed to take the new application for a spin. “It’s designed for a world not only before the internet, but before computers were even networked, when your whole life could fit on a couple of floppy disks.”

Files themselves are increasingly a relic of the past as more and more companies move onto cloud-based office productivity systems like Office 365 or G Suite. The new Dropbox application will sync desktop or server-based files in the same manner as cloud-native documents, spreadsheets, or presentations building on work Dropbox did earlier this year with Google on G Suite integration.

Searching for documents will be easier in the new application, which will show local files, cloud documents, and other corporate data in a single view. And Dropbox users will be able to tag co-workers when uploading or creating files within Dropbox, assigning follow-up tasks or reminders.

Dropbox’s new app will also have deeper ties to office-productivity SaaS companies such as Slack, Zoom, and Atlassian for the first time, the company said in a blog post. The newest generation of SaaS enterprise tech companies have embraced integration and collaboration between their applications in an effort to meet customers where they work, as opposed to forcing them into a workflow that might not be right for their business.

[Editor’s note: This post was updated as more information became available.]

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