Wearing a bright red hat embroidered with “Make Software Great Again,” Box CEO Aaron Levie took the stage at the BoxWorks customer conference on Wednesday to serve as emcee for the unveiling of massive redesigns and upgrades to the company’s cloud storage and content services products.
Box’s web interface is getting a complete redesign, with new organization, search and preview capabilities. The company is launching a new desktop app to help Windows and Mac users access their files. It’s also coming out with a desktop app for users of its Box Notes collaborative document editing service.
It’s all part of what Levie called the “all new Box,” aimed at modernizing the company’s services to meet the needs of customers.
Box’s web interface is getting an overhaul designed to load pages up to 30 percent faster and let users upload files up to five times faster. The redesigned interface also includes a new search feature that lets users select a few parameters that describe what they’re looking for and find files without having to remember an exact name.
There’s also a “Recents” tab in the interface, which gives people quick access to the files that they’ve been working on most recently. Users looking through folders full of photos will also be able to use a new media view that provides a digital lightbox for them to flip through.
The redesign will finally give users the ability to view 3D models and HD video in the Box interface on the web, after Box announced those capabilities last year. On top of that, the company also revealed new support for viewing 360-degree video and images inside the Box web interface, just as more and more companies are working with that content.
The redesigned interface is available Wednesday. Administrators can opt their organizations into it, and registered Box users can try it out for themselves here.
On top of the web interface, Box will also launch a new desktop client for PCs and Macs. The app will stream data from the cloud to users’ PCs and Macs; the data will show up alongside users’ other files in Windows’s file explorer or MacOS’s Finder.
But all of the files they have stored in Box won’t have to take up space on their device. It’s also a boon for data access control, since users’ devices will have less company data on them.
However, users will be able to save key documents to their devices so that they can access them offline. On-demand cloud data access from the desktop is a feature that Dropbox has also been working on and touting as Dropbox Infinite, but hasn’t launched yet.
The new desktop software may be somewhat concerning for administrators of Mac computers, since it requires installation of a kernel extension, which has a lot of access to what goes on in a user’s system. Box will let administrators continue using the old Box Sync product for the time being, but says that it plans to shut that down at a point that’s “probably far off.”
The new Box desktop kernel extension is based on FUSE, an open source tool for building file systems in OS X that is also used by a bunch of other tools.
Box Notes, the company’s collaborative document editing service, is also getting a new desktop app. The app, which is slated to launch later this year, will let users quickly access their notes from a Mac or PC. Next year, Box will update the app to support offline editing, so that users can edit notes while away from an internet connection and sync them to the cloud when they get access to the web.
All of these capabilities are aimed at keeping Box competitive in the rough and tumble enterprise file storage market. The company is facing a ton of competition from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Egnyte, Dropbox and a host of others.
The news comes a day after Box announced Relay, a workflow product that it launched in partnership with IBM. That service, also a part of the Box revamp, is aimed at helping users build flows that help them manage processes like contract approvals and getting new employees started at a company.
Box also announced that it’s working with Google on a new partnership that will let users of the storage service keep documents, spreadsheets and presentations from the Google Docs suite inside Box.