I think most of us are familiar with Dropbox. Around these parts we not only use it, but we rely on it every day by keeping some essential files in one easy to share place. Easy being the key -- you can get a file from any device with a web browser, or use one of the dedicated applications found on most desktop or mobile platforms. But Dropbox is more than a place to share files with your friends or coworkers, it's a piece of the cloud that's tied to you, where you can store just about any information for safekeeping. That's where today's news comes into play.
Because you can store bits of information in a Dropbox account, it makes a great "footlocker" to store application settings and data. Think of how the Carbon backup app works with Dropbox, or how an app like mSecure can store a database there for easy recall anytime the user is connected. The data is safe, everyone has access to a free Dropbox account, and plenty of folks already have one. With today's news, the folks making those apps now have a new API to help them handle all the syncing from a device to that Dropbox cloud,
Our mission is to let users access their data wherever they are. The Sync API lets Android and iOS developers focus on the core of the app and leave all the complexities of syncing and storage to us
-- Sean Lynch, Dropbox product manager
We spent a few minutes talking with Sean Lynch and Brian Smith from Dropbox, and we talked about the new API and how much it can help developers of mobile apps. As they mentioned, Dropbox's goal is to provide easy access to your data, no matter where you are. With a mobile device, that can be tricky. Imagine uploading or downloading a large file, and during the transfer your train goes underground and you lose your signal. When you hop out and head back up to street level, your phone reconnects and the transfer has to pick up where it left off. With today's new sync API, all this is now handled for the developers. Developers can let their application work with Dropbox as if it were a local file system, and even work offline.
Developers only need to drop the new API library into your app, and it handles all the heavy lifting -- all they need to do is tell it to. With the old API, developers had to keep track of syncing and storage themselves to keep the user from losing data during the transfer. Developers can take more time to focus on the core functionality of their app, and we (the users) benefit. The API has no external dependencies, and nothing will break when the Dropbox app is updated.
If you're a developer, or just the curious type, be sure to head over to the Dropbox site. You'll find documentation, tutorials, and even example apps to point you in the right direction. And when you build that killer new app that uses Dropbox for syncing, be sure to drop us a line -- we'd love to see it.