Dropbox's Collaborative Note-Taking Service, Dropbox Notes, Heads Into Beta Testing

Earlier this month, Dropbox was spotted testing an early version of an online note-taking service dubbed "Project Composer," which appeared to have roots in the company's 2014 acquisition of collaborative docs startup HackPad. Now Dropbox is rolling out this new service into private beta as "Dropbox Notes" and is inviting teams to sign up. Dropbox's latest venture was again discovered by users on Product Hunt, the online community that features daily round-ups of the best new products. The site had also originally surfaced the link to Project Composer, which was then pointing to what seemed to be an internal project underway at Dropbox. Today, Project Composer's website has been rebranded as "Dropbox Notes," and directs users over to the new site sign up for beta access, dropbox.com/notes. While there's still very little official information being provided on the Dropbox Notes site, the intro text does confirm that this is Dropbox's entry into the collaborative document editing space, as it reads: "We're working on a new way for teams to write together." The sign-up form also indicates that preference may be given to groups at a company, as it requests that users enter in their company name as part of the process for requesting an invite. Scrolling down, there's just one example of what this looks like in practice with a sample "Dropbox Note" showing the text from a weekly team meeting. Here, different users' names in colorful boxes appear next to cursors indicating where they're working in the online file. Early testers of the Notes service previously described it as offering a clean note-taking experience, with a user interface that used a lot of white in its design, similar to Evernote on the web, and that continues to be the case as Dropbox Notes heads into beta. In addition, users also reported the ability to add files, tables and tasks all in line with their notes. More recently, a list of keyboard shortcuts published by a Hacker News user on the new beta points to a few other features, largely formatting related, but also including things support for navigating a document using only the keyboard, support for adding comments to a note, and more. Essentially, Dropbox's Notes service is a lot like what was previously offered by the Y Combinator startup HackPad, which had grown to be a well-liked app for taking quick notes at conferences, events, and in the classroom. As it has now become the basis for Notes, it's clear that Dropbox is not aiming to compete directly with Microsoft Office by offering its own robust, online document creation service in the cloud, like Google did with Google Drive (Docs), but is instead focused on making it easier to create simple notes as a part of Dropbox user's daily workflow. The new addition will also make Dropbox more usable on mobile devices, where people need a way to jot down quick ideas. Dropbox Notes is not the first hint that the company is headed further into the online collaboration space, either. The company acquired a workplace chat solution called Zulip last year, as you may recall. Dropbox declined to comment on the launch of the Notes beta.
Sarah Perez

Sarah Perez is a Writer at Gigabuzz, focused on covering early-stage startups, especially those with a technology focus and great perks.

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