Dropbox wants to replace your computer’s hard drive.
During its first annual developer conference Tuesday in San Francisco, the company announced Dropbox Platform, a new suite of tools that simplifies how apps access data stored on the service across different devices and platforms.
With Dropbox Platform, the company hopes to replace saving files with syncing them, offer developers the opportunity to integrate heavily with the service, and allow users to essentially use Dropbox as their hard drive.
One Hard Drive to Rule Them All
Dropbox released the Sync API in February of this year, which simplifies syncing files to Dropbox for developers — dealing with complications like caching and network reliability (or lack thereof) — so developers can focus more on writing code for their specific apps.
The Dropbox Platform is made up of several key components, specifically the Sync API, Datastore API and a feature called Drop-Ins.
Drop-Ins are plugins that allow software developers to bring Dropbox functionality to their websites. Currently, Dropbox boasts two, Chooser and Saver. Chooser gives web and mobile apps access to Dropbox files; Saver lets you save files to your Dropbox account.
Web-based photo editor PicMonkey is already taking advantage of Chooser and Saver Drop-Ins. Starting today, you can upload images directly from your Dropbox onto the service to edit them, and then save edited photos back to Dropbox — without the image ever touching your computer’s hard drive.
Sync Is the New Save
Dropbox isn’t just trying to save files; the new Dropbox API is capable of saving app data as well. So if you start playing Plants vs. Zombies on your iPad, you can pick up right where you left off on your Android phone later on.
This a feature many game developers employ by requiring users to log in via Facebook. However, the functionality could be used for much more by syncing all types of content across devices automatically.
For instance, the API could be used to save contacts from smartphones, allowing them to be easily recovered on new phones, or to sync to-do list items across devices — and even users.
More than 175 million people currently use Dropbox, and together, they sync more than 1 billion files each day, according to the company.