(Credit: Dropbox)

Cloud storage services are a great way to ensure that you can access important files from wherever you have an Internet connection, but it can be hard to compete against big brands like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Apple's iCloud. In order to expand your audience in face of these deep-pocketed giants, you may need to move beyond mere file storage, and Dropbox has been hard at work in this area lately.

Dropbox (Android, iOS) already has Paper, a competitor to Google Docs (Android, iOS) that lets you edit and share documents with other Dropbox users. The company determined that being able to both store and edit files has been a popular feature, so today it's announced a new phase of that plan called Extensions.

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However, this time, Dropbox is not brewing up more web apps like Paper. Instead, it's decided to partner with a variety of big productivity platforms like Adobe, Vimeo, and DocuSign. Instead of opening those apps to work on files that are located in your Dropbox account, Dropbox itself will offer the actions that are relevant for that particular type of file.

For example, if it's a PDF that needs a signature, you'll be able to get that added without needing to open DocuSign itself, and then you can fax it within Dropbox when you're ready. Every compatible file in your Dropbox cloud will have a menu to the right where you can decide which integration you want to use. No more importing or exporting with separate apps, which means that Dropbox users can focus more on knowing how to use the cloud service itself, rather than needing to learn each participating app's interface.

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So this can not only smooth out your workflow but also reduce the time that it takes a new employee to get up to speed; fewer apps means a gentler learning curve. Of course, this could also lock you into Dropbox if you're not careful, so it still pays to educate yourself on how these individual document management apps work.

Dropbox senior vice president Quentin Clark says that the cloud service is "home to hundreds of billions of PDF, DWG, and multimedia files," and that Extensions will be "generally available" for Dropbox a few weeks from now, starting November 27. He adds, "Over time, we'll add more partners and deeper integrations to our ecosystem."


  • Given Dropbox's successful run with Paper, it's launching a program called Extensions, where it will partner with companies like Adobe and Autodesk to let you work on documents and other files within Dropbox itself, rather than just using the service to store things in the cloud.
  • Dropbox Extensions is scheduled to launch on November 27.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.