Do you, like me, keep your e-book library on Dropbox? Have you ever been frustrated you can only directly access the files from computers where you’ve already downloaded them all into place? If you haven’t downloaded them, you’ve got more space on your hard drive—but you have to use the klunky web interface to download any files you need. Perhaps you wish you didn’t have to use up that extra space for files you want to keep on hand, but don’t want to give up the convenience.
As it happens, Dropbox has heard your frustration, along with that of thousands of other users—at least, business class users. TechCrunch and The Verge report Dropbox has announced that its new “Project Infinite” initiative will give its customers local access to files no matter where they are. Effectively, it will allow you to browse your cloud storage with the same file explorer as your local hard drive, and downloading files as needed when you open them—much as the iOS e-reading apps Marvin and Gerty do. Files that live in the cloud have a little “cloud” icon on the file, whereas local files have a green check mark.
This would make it a lot simpler to access your files from any computer, including ones you don’t have your material stored on. For most small files, such as e-books or Office documents, Dropbox users probably wouldn’t know the difference, but big files like digital movies and music would be a lot slower to open.
This is similar to the way Microsoft’s OneDrive used to work before Windows 10, and Nextbit Robin also attempts to make cloud files available on demand. Given all the other features Dropbox has already integrated into Explorer via its Windows desktop app, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it happen for remote file access, too.
At the moment, Dropbox hasn’t given any indication when Project Infinite will be ready, or whether it will roll out to consumers (including free-account consumers like me) as well as business users. But if it does, it could certainly make file management a lot simpler. It would be nice, especially on mobile Windows devices with small storage footprints, to be able to download your e-books on demand via Explorer rather than the web or universal app interface. Of course, this does presuppose that you have network access at the time, but it’s pretty rare to be without it these days.