Dropbox Experimental Edition reveals future path for the cloud backup solution

Cloud backup and storage provider Dropbox has released Dropbox Experimental Edition 2.3.12, a pre-release version of its desktop client for Windows, Mac and Linux. The new build introduces several new features -- some restricted by OS -- designed to help simplify the import of photos and other images into the user’s Dropbox account.

At the same time, Dropbox 2.2.0 Release Candidate as quietly slipped out, confirming that the next stable release of Dropbox -- currently at version 2.0.26 -- will go straight to version 2.2, skipping the whole 2.1.x release branch that was previously being used to preview new features.

The Experimental build reveals some major new features coming Dropbox users’ way. These are centered around simplifying the process of importing photos, screen captures and other images into the Dropbox folder.

The new Screenshot to Dropbox feature -- currently available only on Windows and Mac -- is triggered by pressing the usual system shortcut for capturing the screen. The first time this is done after installing the new build a Dropbox window will open giving the user the option of uploading the screenshot to a special Screenshots folder in their Dropbox folder. The feature is then switched on by default -- look under the new Import tab in the program’s preferences to toggle this on or off.

The new build also promises faster transfer of larger files, plus adds a "Move to Dropbox" option to the context menu, allowing users to quickly transfer files from other folders for syncing and sharing. Mac users should also gain an option for importing photos from iPhoto.

The "experimental" nature of this build is very evident in this new release. It appears to be hit-and-miss as to whether features are actually working, with many users -- ourselves included -- struggling to get the functionality to work. In the end, we were only able to try out the screenshot tool in Windows 7, while our Mac build failed to display any of the new features. Other users may have more success, however, while subsequent updates should restore the functionality to all users.

The release was joined by Dropbox 2.2.0 Release Candidate, which should hit the stable channel in a matter of days. The 2.2 series will see a new notifications badge and refactored core sync engine as well as improved memory usage startup performance and Finder icon overlay.

Dropbox Experimental Edition 2.3.12 is available now as a freeware download for Dropbox users running Windows, Mac and Linux. Also available is Dropbox 2.0.26, with Dropbox 2.2 due in a matter of days.

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