Dropbox is moving from a file storage service to a collaboration service, focusing on small businesses and creatives with its new all-in-one collaboration service, Paper. The premise of Paper is simple; it’s a place where you can create, edit, tag, and chat all in one document. It essentially combines the aesthetic of Medium with the collaboration features of Google Docs.
Originally named Notes, Dropbox decided to ditch that name for Paper. It has been in closed beta for a few months, and in that time Dropbox has added new tools to the collaboration service, intended to make it a heavy competitor against some of the established services.
Documents will begin with a blank page and minimal formatting options. Users can choose regular typeface with headers and bold or Markdown. Lines of code will automatically be formatted, similar to Dreamweaver’s code-recognition system.
Users will be able to import photos, videos, and soundbytes to the document. Other collaborators can be tagged in the document through an @ mention. And other Dropbox documents can be easily shared by importing them, with these being made instantly available to everyone inside the document.
Once multiple users have collaborated on a document, text will be highlighted identifying who wrote what through a feature called Attribution. Collaborators can comment on the right side, similar to Google Docs, and can even send emojis like a wizard’s sleeve.
A search bar is available at the top to instantly find something inside the document or in another collaborated document. Dropbox has cut down on the amount of toolbars, settings, and other clutter. The goal is to make Paper as simple as possible to use, while making it a powerful tool for collaboration.
Dropbox Paper is currently only available in open beta, with an invite necessary to partake. For now, it looks like Dropbox is targeting the individual with the closed beta, but might work with small businesses to bring them up to speed with the new collaboration service.
The only worry is that Dropbox may have come too late. The established players, Slack, Evernote, Google Docs, and OneDrive, each have a strong user base that is committed to using that platform. It will be hard for Dropbox to change opinions, unless Paper can truly offer collaboration tools that far surpass the aforementioned competitors.