Dropbox Remove Photos Features
Dropbox has removed key photo management features from its product. The new photo page rolled out earlier this week after several months of warnings.
No More Albums
The biggest change is that it is no longer possible to create albums of photos. Albums are different to Dropbox folders in that a photo can appear in multiple different albums without duplicating the file. Dropbox now suggests to create albums by creating folders instead – which of course means copying & pasting the photos between folders if a photo is to appear in multiple albums.
Sharing Groups of Photos
Previously it was also possible to share a group of photos without creating an album or moving them to a particular folder just by selecting them on the photos page. This ad hoc sharing is no longer available.
(Strangely enough this type of sharing is still possible today on the iOS apps – it is not clear if this is an oversight or a feature)
Series of Moves
This isn’t the first change by Dropbox away from being focused on photos. Dropbox acquired Loom to build Carousel which was a dedicated photos product from Dropbox, however in March 2016 Carousel was shut down. This was to create a “single Dropbox photo experience”. Now fifteen months later we see an “upgrade” to the photos page interface to align with the Dropbox website redesign and the removal of album functionality. The explanation offered is:
We’re continuing to work on new photos and file experiences on dropbox.com. As we learn more about how our users prefer to work with photos, we’ll launch improvements to the Photos page.
Users who have invested time over the years in creating hundreds of albums are understandably upset by this set of changes. This is seen clearly on the Dropbox Forum thread which has pages of users describing their difficulties in working without albums, or their stories in migrating to other services because of these changes – mostly Google Drive.
Is it time to say that Dropbox isn’t a suitable place to master your photos, or should we believe that there is better functionality coming? At a time when Google Photos and Apple’s iCloud Photo offerings are getting stronger and stronger it is possible that Dropbox has decided to step out of this game.
The optimistic take would be to take Dropbox at their word that they are working on new file experiences that extend beyond photos – maybe tagging based, or similar – which would make albums redundant in any case. Or maybe Dropbox Paper will become powerful enough to be a strong replacement for a photo album?
Realistically though if either of these were the case in the near future it would seem likely that Dropbox would wait until they were ready and then transition the old albums to the new feature. To switch to a feature-less mode without these photo features sends a strong signal to users that this is not a good place to keep your photos.