Dropbox Update Removes Public Folders

Dropbox rolled out an update for their iOS app today, and along with a couple needed features came  a startling change that is already upsetting some users.

The update adds new options for moving an deleting multiple files via the iOS app, and it also lets you set the app to automatically upload new photos and videos to your Dropbox account. You also now have  a new Gallery view, which should be useful for showing off the photos, and the update also removes  the file size limit. You can now upload files of any size (bandwidth permitting).

But along with those new features came a change to the service. Dropbox sent out an email this week informing users that they would no longer be able to make public folders. That’s going to make it a lot harder to share documents and is already irritating users. Here’s the email they sent out:

We wanted to let our developers know about an upcoming change to the Public folder for all user accounts. In April, we launched the ability to share any file or folder in your Dropbox with a simple link. This new sharing mechanism is a more generalized, scalable way to support many of the same use cases as the Public folder. After July 31, we will no longer create Public folders in any new Dropbox accounts. If your app depends on Public folders, we recommend switching to the /shares API call. Public folders in existing accounts, however, will continue to function as before.

I cannot help but wonder if this new move might be a delayed response to the US prosecution of MegaUpload. That cyberlocker service was accused by the US government of criminal copyright infringement and then attacked in a surprise raid which took down all the servers (and effectively killed the service).  A number of other file hosting services changed their policies after the attack on MegaUpload, and this change with Dropbox could be more of the same.