Dropbox sharpens search on Android app

The Cloud storage company's Android app also gained document preview capabilities

Dropbox has improved the search engine of its Android application, as well as given it a document preview feature.

The search functionality got "a massive facelift" and now lets users narrow the scope of queries to a specific folder, instead of having to wade through results from their entire Dropbox account, the company said Monday.

The search engine now also generates "type-ahead" auto suggestions as people enter their query terms, and it also saves prior searches.

However, the Android app's search function is limited to finding file and folder names -- it doesn't do full-text searching, which isn't available either in the main Dropbox browser-based service.

Meanwhile, users can now launch previews of Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents right within the application's interface, removing the need to open them with separate software. The Android app viewer allows users to scroll through the documents and zoom into sections.

These improvements to the Android app apply to both consumer Dropbox accounts and to Dropbox for Business accounts.

For Dropbox for Business users specifically, it's now possible for them to set "view only" access rights to folders they share with other people from the Android app.

With about 300 million end users, Dropbox is a major player in the Cloud storage and file sync and share market for consumers. However, it's trying to extend its popularity to the workplace with Dropbox for Business, which came out of beta testing in April of this year.

About 80,000 businesses pay for Dropbox for Business, which costs $US15 per user per month, for a minimum of five users, and features unlimited storage capacity. The company has so far declined to say how many people use Dropbox for Business.

Dropbox in its different editions is used to varying degrees in about 4 million businesses, according to the company. The Basic edition is free and includes 2GB of storage, while the Pro edition ranges from $US9.99 per month for 100GB to 500GB for $49.99 per user/month.

Dropbox's main rivals include Google with Google Drive, Microsoft with OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, Apple with iCloud and Box's eponymous service.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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