I discovered something shocking this morning. Fumbling around inside my phone in search of some notes from CES, I realized I hadn't used the Dropbox app since I changed phones a month ago.
A whole month without Dropbox.
For close to a decade, the first app I've installed on any new device has been Dropbox. That trusty blue-and-white logo has been my security blanket for storing files online, helping me do the backing up I'm terrible at, and also keeping me sane while switching between review devices every week. But something's changed now, and the catalyst for that change is Google Photos.
I already rely on Google Keep and Docs for most of my notes and scribbling, and until the Google Pixel smartphone arrived, my trustiest photo repository was Dropbox. Once I fell in love with the Pixel's camera, however, I found Google's nudges toward using Google Photos too much to resist and I just jumped fully on board the Google Experience bandwagon. Instead of Dropboxing my photos, I started using the more tightly integrated backup features of Google's Photos app. And you know what, it's been better.
The thing Dropbox does really well is syncing files and folders across machines. I've always liked that simplicity, but a fully built-for-purpose app and service like Google Photos makes Dropbox look primitive. The primary mobile use of cloud storage services like Dropbox is for photos — because, well, that's the content we generate most readily while on the move — and the Dropbox apps on both iOS and Android acknowledge that by having shortcuts for photo uploads. But you can't integrate Dropbox better than Google Photos, because the latter is the gallery, photo editor, and primary online backup option on Google's Pixel phones.
When I swapped Pixels in January, all the photos I shot with the first one were essentially waiting for me on the second. I see my entire Google Photos library wherever I am — mobile or on the web — and I only ever download the pictures I want to do something with. Tracking down a picture in Photos is exponentially easier and more intuitive than searching for it in Dropbox. I'd never thought to do a comparative review of the two services, which I've been using without paying for extra storage, but it's quite remarkable to me how quickly and thoroughly I've transitioned from the one I'd used and loved for so long to the other.
I can't even call Google Photos new, because it's been around for a great long while, but I think its current level of polish and reliability is a new development. I trust Google Photos to keep my stuff in order, and that trust can only be earned through consistently solid service — exactly as Dropbox had been providing me.
In the past, when I've seen companies like HTC and Dell pre-loading Dropbox on their devices, I've welcomed the convenience. Now I'm just irked by Dell's recurring invitations to set up Dropbox on the XPS 13 2-in-1. Leave me in peace, I think, I've got my cloud storage sorted out already. And that's the topsy-turvy moment where my once most essential app turns into bloatware. I just don't need Dropbox anymore, and it's all Google's fault.