The only documents not worth the paper they’re printed on are the ones that never receive a second pair of eyes. At least, that’s how we’re interpreting the release Dropbox’s newest document collaboration service. Long a bastion of cloud storage, the company is broadening its offerings with a new online workspace called ‘Paper.’ Does it have the functionalities to compete with the likes of Google Docs and Office 365? Let’s find out.
First announced one year ago, Paper promised to be an elegant and straightforward tool that focuses on the minute details. The average user hasn’t had much to go on since then as Dropbox kept everything under the shroud of a closed beta, but that’s no longer the case. With the release of iOS and Android apps, the mobile and desktop versions of Paper are moving into the open beta stage.
What sets Dropbox’s service apart is how it liberates users from the constraints of document file types. Whereas other services force you to classify what you’re making, Paper is a completely blank canvas that provides the tools to create a document outside the boundaries of presentations, memos, and spreadsheets. Think of it more along the lines of creating a website, with photos, text, video and even HTML code all working together through an intuitive snap-in user interface.
In addition to fundamentally shifting how we think about document creation, those at Dropbox want us to take a closer look at how we collaborate with each other. Live chats, comments and document notifications bring a depth of communication that Paper’s competitors would be hard- pressed to match. And although they’ve been kept intentionally clean and toned down, all these features are now available as push notifications for mobile devices in an attempt to keep everyone in the loop, 24/7.
Ultimately, what makes Paper a worthwhile consideration is its overarching philosophy and goals. Dropbox doesn’t want a segmented platform where teams need to jump between different windows and services; they want to create a virtual meeting room with a fully functional whiteboard where everyone can create, store, and collaborate on documents simultaneously.
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