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Dropbox expands sync feature to games, email apps, other programs

By installing Dropbox on their personal computers, smartphones and tablets, users can sync chosen files and folders across all the devices. Pictures taken on an Android smartphone can be instantly accessed on a laptop. An Excel spreadsheet created on a laptop is available immediately on a tablet.

Now, Dropbox is looking to extend that syncing to more types of files. The company unveiled new tools for software developers that would allow games, email apps and other programs to store and retrieve information from Dropbox in the same way as it interfaces with a physical hard drive.

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Instead of storing saved games on a smartphone, the files get stored to a hard drive owned by Dropbox and connected to the Internet. The app – regardless of the type of device being used -- connects to the Dropbox hard drive through the Internet to get the data.

“Sync is the new save,” Dropbox Chief Executive Drew Houston told application developers Tuesday.

For example, on Yahoo Mail’s new Android app, a user attaching a file to an email could click “browse files on this device” or “share from Dropbox.”

Dropbox offered another example on its blog.

“Imagine a task-tracking app that works on both your iPhone and the web,” it stated. “If it’s built with the Datastore API, you can check off items from your phone during a cross-country flight and add new tasks from your computer and Dropbox will make sure the changes don’t clobber each other.”

More than 175 million people now use Dropbox, up from 100 million in November. Users get 2 gigabytes of storage for free and can pay as a low as $10 a month for additional space. People who purchase a Samsung phone or tablet get 50 gigabytes of total storage for free for two years.

The giants Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft offer similar services. Still, expect to see Dropbox and "sync" showing up in more apps.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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