How Box's shift to an enterprise 'content platform' is becoming a reality

A new UI for Box, fresh tools, big hook-ups with Google, IBM, and more…

Along with a new interface, an app for working with notes that you make on files, and a way to see cloud files from inside Explorer and Finder on Windows and Mac respectively, cloud storage service Box used its BoxWorks conference this week to announce that it will be the first service beyond Google itself to open documents in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Box is focusing on three main areas, Chris Yeh, senior vice president in charge of products at Box, told Techradar. He noted: "First, we have a much greater, deeper focus on user experience." Some of that is about making the Box site faster – pages load 30% faster and files upload 5% faster in the new design, he claimed, because files are now uploaded in lots of small chunks rather than as a single file. That will also let Box increase the size of files you can upload to the service.

Box CEO

Tooling up

There are new tools, like an Excel viewer, of which Yeh observed, "you can see even the most complex spreadsheets in detail." There are also built-in viewers for 3D and 360-degree video files that let you change the angle and the view so you can tilt the image or spin through the whole scene. Lists of recent files and thumbnails for images make it easier to find content, both on the web and in the new mobile apps (which also get Office Lens-style document scanning), and you can use familiar keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste files from one folder to another.

Modern content platform

And when you're collaborating on a document, you can choose between co-editing the file on Office 365, adding annotations to a PDF, PowerPoint or image file, making comments that show up in a pane next to the document, or jotting down ideas in Box Notes. "A big part of collaboration is the conversations that happen around your files," Yeh explained. "Now you can see comments and tasks in this new activity stream."

Box is also working on new desktop software for Windows and Mac that will let you see files from your Box account in Explorer and Finder, without having to sync them first. That will be available early next year, and a later version will handle syncing files to your computer as well (eventually, it will replace the separate Box sync client). There will also be desktop and mobile apps to see Box Notes on your device.

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Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.