Dropbox, Carousel and ‘Dogfooding’

11 April 2014 #Tomoro

Carousel is what I wish iPhoto would be, a cloud-stored photo sharing library accessible on any device. But there’s a catch…

Facebook’s recent application launches have been regularly accused of being created by designers and developers that aren’t dogfooding. That is, they typically demo the apps using wonderful stock photography showing an idealised version of the product that does not gel with real life.

In real life your friends aren’t all amazing model-quality looking people taking professional-quality photos (no offence, everyone). So with Dropbox launching a new app this week — Carousel — it’s a shame to see their product go down the same path.

Carousel has one simple problem that could be identified simply by using the application could be addressed before launch.

Generic App Launch Video

No application launch is complete without a hipster beard and an uplifting soundtrack.

That one problem? Carousel assumes that every single .jpg and movie in your Dropbox account is a photo or video you want to store and share with friends.

I like many people use a Dropbox personal account for business reasons. As a business of one it’s more than sufficient. So my Dropbox account contains thousands of client resources, stock photo images, design comps and assets.

Carousel has treated these on equal footing as my own personal photos which are uploaded from the device. Making Carousel, in a word, useless.

This could be fixed with an option to exclude particular folders. The Dropbox desktop client has an option for this which is great for me. I don’t want to sync my work folders locally on my Macbook Air which has limited storage, but my work computer syncs everything because it has plenty of storage.

For me, because of my own fastidious filing system Carousel could be fixed simply by excluding one folder — work. Or limiting it to one folder — photos.

There’s an ‘ease of use’ argument to be had here. For many people I am sure Carousel works great because it just works. There are no options. There is no setup. But that should not come at the expense of even a few basic options. Options that are provided in other applications.

Should the ability to exclude folders or to limit to individual folders come in a future update, I’ll have no hesitation to move my entire iPhoto library into Dropbox to use through Carousel. Until then, this is a really, really nice app which I just can’t use.