Dropbox said it accidentally exposed a new desktop app experience to some users for a short period of time. While the issue has since been resolved, many users were caught off guard after being silently “upgraded” to this radically different version of Dropbox. Ars Technica reports: This new version of Dropbox wants to be… a file manager? Instead of the minimal sync app, the Dropbox icon now opens a big, multi-panel, blue and white window showing all your Dropbox files. It kind of looks like Slack, if Slack was a file manager. You can now “star” folders as important so they show up in the left panel (again, like a Slack chat room). The middle panel shows your Dropbox files, and the right panel shows a file preview with options for comments and sharing. You can search for files, sort by name or date, and do all the usual file operations like cut, copy, and paste. It’s a file manager.
A big part of the appeal of Dropbox is (was?) that it’s a dead-simple product: it’s a folder, in the cloud! Put your stuff in the folder, and it seamlessly gets backed up and synced to all your other computers. Part of using Dropbox means installing the sync app to your computer, and to keep everything fresh and up to date, Dropbox has the ability to silently update this app from time to time. Using this mechanism to silently install a bigger, more bloated, completely different version of the Dropbox app onto people’s computers seems… wrong, especially with no notice whatsoever. Updates are one thing, but many users (your author included) feel like there was a lack of consent here. Here’s the statement Dropbox issued earlier today: “We recently announced a new desktop app experience that is now currently available in Early Access. Due to an error, some users were accidentally exposed to the new app for a short period of time. The issue has been resolved, though there might be a short lag for some users to see resolution. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.”
Developer Marco Arment responded to the statement, tweeting: “‘That immensely unpopular change we forced onto all of you yesterday? We only meant to force it on *some* of you. The rest of you weren’t supposed to get it forced upon you until later.’ Doesn’t really fix the problem, does it?”