What’s still largely untested is whether the vision of a collaboration product like Paper will actually prove commercially successful. It may be challenging for these companies to unseat traditional productivity systems. However, Dropbox says it already has several customers who began relying on the service while it was in beta, like InVision, Shopify and Getaround.
Right now, Smart Sync is only available to Dropbox Business customers through the company’s Early Adopter Program. It makes sense for Business users, since they’re likely to share files with other people inside an organization that don’t require constant access.
The new feature dovetails well with Dropbox Business’s existing Team Folders functionality, which lets administrators set up shared folders that multiple people have access to. Syncing a massive team folder down to each user’s computer would take a lot of hard drive space, and Smart Sync means that people can easily see files without all of the storage space concerns.
While it’s a useful feature, Smart Sync is not without controversy. In order to provide that functionality on the Mac, Dropbox needs to use a kernel extension that could potentially cause performance or security issues. The company argues that it has battle-tested Smart Sync internally, and it shouldn’t cause problems.
IT managers, however, will be able to control whether or not their organizations opt in to Smart Sync.
“So, if for whatever reason, in your business, you’re not sure about that level of functionality, you can turn it off,” Baesman said. “And, no problem, Dropbox will continue to work the way it always had, without Smart Sync.”
At launch, Smart Sync will be available for users running MacOS 10.9 and Windows 7. Baesman refused to provide a technical explanation for why the feature was being kept to only business users at this point. He did say that Dropbox is evaluating what to do about bringing Smart Sync to consumers, but that the company isn’t announcing anything about its plans at this point.
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