The new version does not provide any functionality for working with photos.
Check one photo you have a Share, Show in folder, Download, Add comment and Version history option. Check two or more photos and you only have Download.
Obviously the albums style functionality is gone, but you can't even check a few photos and move them to their own folder.
When you have 32554 photos, this new view is pretty much pointless.
"As we learn more about how our users prefer to work with photos, we’ll launch improvements to the Photos page." Help Center
Easy - bring back the albums functionality, that's how users prefered to work with photos.
So essentially the major change Dropbox has made is to eliminate the ability to create a link to multiple files for any purpose, be it to send in an e-mail, post to Facebook, whatever. (The minor change is the date timeline scroll on the photo page, but since that was imprecise, it’s not a major change IMO.) The inability to create links to multiple files clearly makes Dropbox less useful to those who want to share photos. The question, as always when a software developer eliminates desirable functionality, is “why?”
One theory is that, by forcing users to create folders and perhaps copy the same photo to multiple folders, user storage space limits are maxed out faster, which results in higher revenue as users must purchase additional storage space. That’s a nice conspiracy theory, but I don't think that's the reason. Consumers who need that functionality will simply migrate to another cloud service that is more photo-friendly and offers it, if such a service exists.
Another theory is that the cost to maintain separate photo software is not providing a decent ROI to Dropbox. That theory, which is endorsed by a friend of mine who advises technology companies for a living, at least makes business sense, even though it pisses off those of us who love the photo functionality Dropbox previously had. This theory is supported by the fact that several years ago Dropbox attempted to differentiate itself by adding Carousel, and other photo friendly features, but started backing away from those last year, apparently not receiving the anticipated ROI. Since it would be an irrational business decision to discontinue a feature that is adding subscribers, I suspect my friend is right. Even as browser software, cloud service software has to be maintained. My friend also suggested that perhaps contractual relationships with Amazon and Google may have compelled or encouraged Dropbox to not compete with these cloud storage behemoths in the photo-user space, though this was only a surmise by him -- though not a bad one.
A third theory crossed my mind: When Dropbox created a multi-file (photo or otherwise) link, it really created a metadata file which, when accessed, created on-the-fly (if designed properly) and "album" fly to display and access the various files -- it's not as though Dropbox needed to store separate copies of files and store them. However, doing this would take processor power, and also take up some storage space, as we must assume that several on-the-fly "albums" would exist at any one time.
What is curious about Dropbox’s decision to cripple the ability to create links to multiple files is its effect on non-photo file users. While it may be more common for photo users to create links to multiple files, it is a feature that non-photo users also use, but no more. If there is a way to create a link to multiple files, photos or otherwise, I haven't found it and, based on Dropbox's comments about its changes, I don't believe it exists.
All of which is frustrating, but falls under the category of "don't worry about things you can't control." If the kind of functionality Dropbox had prior to this latest crippling "upgrade" has a market, the marketplace will eventually provide, whether it is another company or Dropbox (though this latest takeaway has, at least among current users, crated consumer trust). That's how capitalism works, though it doesn't always work as quickly as we would like.
Excellent write up, thanks for taking the time to put forward your thoughts on what might have happened. It was useful to read the opinions of your friends in the industry as well.
Thanks. While the photo changes have not cracked the tech trades yet, here is what is in the news, that sheds a little light on why Dropbox is content to piss off its photo users:
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