updated 04:36 pm EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
Drop-ins to help add Dropbox functionality, data syncing
Dropbox wants to become more useful to its customers as well as developers, by offering itself as a cloud storage provider for apps. The company used its DBX developer conference to introduce the Dropbox Platform for third-party app syncing, along with a number of tools for developers to allow apps to easily synchronize data across multiple devices.
The Dropbox Platform is made up of a number of tools and APIs that build upon the existing Sync API, which currently allows apps to access Dropbox accounts and synchronize files, according to the company blog. The new Datastore API will allow for apps to store and synchronize app data instead of files, which will keep settings up to date on multiple devices, even if the device is disconnected from the Internet.
Two new items, dubbed Drop-ins, will allow developers to connect to Dropbox accounts with a small amount of code. The Chooser and Saver tools will allow apps to use the save and open Dropbox dialogs in order to transfer files to and from storage. As an example of this, Dropbox revealed that the Mailbox app that it bought earlier this year will soon allow for files already stored within a Dropbox account to be attached to an outbound e-mail.
Though apps have been able to take advantage of Dropbox to transfer settings between devices before, it is within the confines of a copied file, something which could easily be meddled with by other apps or the users themselves. The change will make adding such functionality to an app simpler and more secure, and brings it more in line with what is offered to developers in the form of Microsoft Azure and the Apple iCloud.
Aside from some developers that received early access to the new additions, it probably won't be long until other developers use the new APIs in their own apps.