Dropbox hasn't radically changed its core product in a long time, instead relying on solid stability and a steady beat of incremental updates to make syncing your files easier. One such upgrade is starting to roll out today, and it should help keep files that are commonly shared and collaborated on in sync. The change itself is a simple one: when you're viewing your Dropbox files through a web browser, clicking on a file that is synced to the computer you're using will now give you the option to automatically open it in a native app rather than download the file to your desktop. From there, any changes you make to the file are of course synced through Dropbox.
It sounds minor, and if you're like me you're probably thinking that you don't often deal with files through Dropbox's web interface unless you have to. But Dropbox product manager Josh Kaplan noted that plenty of people who collaborate on shared files with co-workers should find the new interface to be a big step forward. For example, if someone emails you a link to a shared Word document that's synced to your computer, you'll be able to open it directly through the web rather than simply have the option to download — something that before would cause you to end up with files that are out of sync.
Again, it's something that probably won't affect those that mostly use Dropbox to back up personal files, but if you're at an organization whose users store, sync, and collaborate on files with Dropbox, this removes a bit of friction and helps keep files synced up properly. And there's no doubt that it's nice to see a web app smart enough to open files in their native apps. To get these new features, Dropbox will be pushing out an automatic update to its desktop app starting today; the company said users should start seeing the "open" button over the next few weeks.