Dropbox silently installs new file manager app on users’ systems


Hey Dropbox users, how has Dropbox been for you lately? Major changes are coming to the Dropbox desktop app. The company announced its “New Desktop Experience” in June, and previously it was opt-in. Recently, though, a number of users on Twitter and at the Ars Orbiting HQ have reported silently being “upgraded” to this radically different version of Dropbox.

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.

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