Dropbox wants you to read the comments.
In a new feature unveiled today, you can now leave comments on Dropbox files much in the same way that you can comment on news articles like this one. Except instead of trolling, Dropbox is hoping you’ll use these comments to get something done.
Dropbox’s premium Dropbox for Business service has long featured collaboration tools such as access permissions and an activity log. But this is the first time that Dropbox has enabled users to actually comment on shared files, pitching the option as a way to get work done without needing to open or download a file at all. And while commenting will probably be most useful for businesses, the feature will be available to all users.
Dropbox says the comments will appear in a new comments pane when previewing files online. To help you keep up with discussions, Dropbox will send you an email notification for each comment left on one of your files unless, of course, you opt out, and you can invite anyone to comment on a file you share, even if they’re not Dropbox users. The company is also adding a Twitter-style “@ mentions.” When you “@ mention” someone in a Dropbox comment, they’ll get an email notification.
And if you don’t want to deal with comments at all, you can disable the feature on particular files.
Dropbox has long been one of the easiest ways to store files in the cloud and synchronize them across multiple devices. But competitors like Amazon and Google have slashed prices and increased storage limits in recent years, forcing Dropbox to do the same. With an IPO likely imminent, Dropbox has been buffing up its collaboration features in an attempt to show that it’s more than a one-feature pony in a race to undersell some of the world’s biggest tech companies.
For example, last year the company forged a partnership with Microsoft to integrate the service directly into Office. And last January, Dropbox acquired a mobile document creation and editing company called CloudOn. And now it’s testing its own text editor for users to collaborate on Dropbox-linked documents.
In every case, the idea is to show that Dropbox is about more than just extra gigabytes in the cloud. Beyond just storing and syncing files, Dropbox wants to show it can help you do useful stuff with them.