Dropbox is one of the leading providers of consumer cloud storage, but the company’s bread and butter has been offering users a folder on their computer that syncs to the cloud. Dropbox’s service has branched out to allow app data syncing and automated camera uploads, but Dropbox’s core interface hasn’t gotten much better. Working through a hierarchical file system makes sense on the desktop, but it doesn’t work nearly as well on mobile, especially with a bunch of similarly-named image files.
Carousel, a new Android and iPhone app from Dropbox, aims to make managing photos through the cloud storage service more appealing. Photos are organized by date and location (if they’re tagged with location metadata), and users can swipe up and down a long timeline, or move through time using a small date carousel (get it?) at the bottom of the app’s main screen.
It’s a far cry from sifting through files and folders.
The app is also designed to make sharing photos from Dropbox easier. Users can send images to one another using the app, along with short chat messages. Sharing is dead simple: users can select an event, or a handful of photos, and then share them out to a group of friends who also use Carousel with a few taps. Users who receive the photos can choose to save them to their own Dropbox with a touch.
In addition, Carousel takes all of the guesswork out of photo-syncing and backup. All of the images shot on a device running Carousel end up in Dropbox, without requiring any intervention from the user. That’s a double-edged sword: it can be really easy to run over Dropbox’s storage limit by uploading hundreds of 3 MB images from a smartphone, but it also means that users are free to delete images from their phone will once they’ve been synced up to the cloud.
The app does come with drawbacks, though. Chief among them is the inability to exclude folders from Carousel’s watchful eye. While it’s possible to hide individual photos in the app, there’s no way for users to block whole folders at a time. For people with massive photo libraries in their Dropbox, that could prove problematic.
For an app that’s so focused on photo sharing, it’s insane that there’s no way to view photos shared through Carousel on the web. While I understand that Dropbox wants people to use the app (and use Dropbox with it), I don’t want to require friends and family download an app to see the photos that I want to share.