Mobile Devices

February 07, 2013

Dropbox Releases API for iOS and Android-Based Devices

Dropbox unveiled on Wednesday that it had introduced the Sync API that will allow developers to add synchronization to iOS and Android apps. The code library shields developers from having to worry about the internals of caching, synchronizing and working offline. Apps can function as though they had their own Dropbox client built in.

The Dropbox developer's blog provides some background information on the API, along with links to tutorials and documentation. The Sync API treats Dropbox as though it was another file system on the device. One recurring phrase on Dropbox' website is 'Write locally, sync globally.' Writing to one file location is all that is needed, since the Sync API updates all other copies of the file automatically.

APIs are designed to cut down on development time and anecdotal evidence from the blog suggests this is possible with the Sync API. Chris Cox, developer of Squarespace Note, claimed the API reduced his coding by half. Note is an iOS app that allows users to enter notes and sync them with social media sites, email and Dropbox.

The Sync API is the latest library that allows programmatic control of Dropbox' main functions. Dropbox had already established the Core API, the desktop equivalent of the Sync API, available to Windows, Mac and Linux. A REST API provides a platform independent interface for exposing Dropbox functionality.

Providing an API is a good way to retain customers, at least the more technically savvy ones. Anytime an application falls short in functionality, APIs make working around those shortcomings possible. The Dropbox APIs can also be used to automate repetitive tasks. Instead of opening Dropbox and doing tasks manually, the whole process could be put in an app using the Dropbox API and performed with the click of a button.

The Dropbox API also fills a need that would not have existed 20 years ago. It used to be that people either had their PCs or their Macs and that was the end of it. If you needed to give someone a file, you copied it to a disk and handed it to them. With local networks and the Internet, you could email that file as an attachment. In 2013, most people have multiple devices with computer functionality, several email and social media accounts and possibly more.

The need for synchronizing content is hue and will likely grow. Having Dropbox helps manage that complexity, but automating those features makes it even easier.




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli


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