Dropbox rolls out document scanning, new sharing features, and more to its apps

dropbox update document scanning pc computer 2
Dropbox isn’t just a haphazard dump for your ripped Jimmy Hendrix collection, last tax season’s Excel spreadsheets, and photos from the annual family barbecue anymore. A case in point is today’s full-bodied update for Dropbox’s desktop and iOS client. Among the new features are a nifty photo-scanning feature that uses optical character recognition to parse the text in written documents, streamlined document and photo management workflows, new sharing and file history tools, and support for commenting on stored content.

Document scanning on mobile devices is perhaps the headliner. It works as you would expect: you launch the Dropbox app, hold your handset’s camera up to any surface with typed or handwritten text — e.g., a whiteboard, receipt, or sketch — and the app takes care of the rest. It will automatically organize your captures, and, if you’re a Dropbox Business subscriber, let you search the text within scans.

Dropbox is rounding out its sharing tools, too. If you have Dropbox’s desktop application installed, you can right-click on a file in Mac Finder or Windows Explorer and share from the desktop. In addition, you can now share individual files with specific people, or make them viewable publicly. And when you share a file like a chat log, pic, or document, you now have the option to annotate specific bits and pieces — the second paragraph in a manuscript, for example, or the inexplicably blurry corner of a portrait.

In what’s sure to be a boon for doc junkies everywhere, the Dropbox app for iOS is gaining shortcuts to Microsoft’s coterie of productivity tools. Click on the app’s “plus” button and you’ll be greeted with links to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. New documents save to Dropbox periodically, and thanks to a new version history feature, you can restore old revisions in case of unintended deletions or edits.

The updates aren’t all good news, though. If you have been taking advantage of Dropbox Basic’s photo upload feature to back up pics from your various phones, tablets, and computers, you’ll have to install the Dropbox desktop application by July 22 to retain access. The only recourse? Uploading photos manually, or upgrading to Dropbox’s premium-tier Pro service.

If that last bit sounds like a transparent ploy to drive non-paying Dropbox users toward the company’s paid offerings, that’s no mistake. Dropbox counts more than 500 million users among its ranks, but only 150,000 paying enterprise users — far short of the threshold it hopes to reach ahead of a potential initial public offering.

Dropbox’s CEO, Drew Houston, told Bloomberg in an interview last year that its focus was on “investing and growing” rather than “profitability,” but signs of change are in the air. Following decisions by investment firms T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, and Morgan Stanley to cut their valuations in the San Francisco-based company earlier this year, Dropbox canceled employee perks worth a collective $38 million.

The new features will roll out “in the coming days.”

Product Review

The new iPad Mini certainly isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Apple’s new iPad Mini has beastly performance, fluid iOS 12 software, and good battery life. It also looks like it came straight out of 2015, because the design hasn’t been changed. Here are our impressions of Apple’s new 7.9-inch…
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: Free Solo, Catastrophe season 4, and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Free Solo documents an awe-inspiring climb, Catastrophe unveils its final season, and more.
Mobile

Does this video show off the Huawei P30 Pro's impressive camera suite?

The Huawei P30 Pro will be announced on March 26. It has already started to leak ahead of this date, and expectations are high that the company will improve even further on the P20 Pro's camera.
Mobile

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.
Mobile

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.
Mobile

You can now use the innovative Red Hydrogen One on Google Fi

The Red Hydrogen One was first announced in 2017 and has been delayed a few times since then. Now, the Red Hydrogen One is finally available, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
Deals

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods might be new and improved, but they aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, with attractive features. These are the best AirPod alternatives on the market today.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger adds quoted replies to better organize group chats

Facebook is rolling out a feature that should help make group chats a whole lot more organized. The feature allows you to reply to specific messages within a group chat, so others will be able to tell what you're replying to.
News

Browse safely and securely with Opera’s unlimited VPN on Android

Opera has added a new VPN to its Android browser, offering an easy way to keep your privacy and data locked up solid, and with no limits on usage or cost, you can keep it on all the time.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks for the best portable chargers.
Mobile

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G might be a few short weeks away from launch

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.
Wearables

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.