When Dropbox bought Audiogalaxy late last year, industry observers wondered if the cloud music player startup could turn into a new audio streaming product. But Audiogalaxy was promptly shut down, and the team is rumored to be working on other Dropbox projects.
And so, a largish niche has emerged for apps that stream DRM-free music files for Dropbox users. DropTunes has a well-regarded web player, but mobile is the main use case for most people, and Tunebox has been a standout among the eight or so apps available for iOS. Available since late 2011, it already streams songs automatically instead of requiring you to download files from Dropbox to your phone like most of the others.
The new 2.0 version completes developer Phil Kast‘s* goal of providing an iTunes Match-type service for Dropbox users, in that you can now save files to your device and play them in offline mode. Just tap the icon next to a song or album to save it, and swipe to remove it if you want to free up storage space on your device.
Tunebox had already done a relatively good job of sorting through song metadata in Dropbox to organize files in its interface. But if you had more than a couple thousand songs, it had trouble displaying everything. Now it gets around that by sorting through albums first, allowing you to see your collection even if you have tens of thousands of files you want to listen to (inspired by this Lifehacker fix).
Of course, anyone with a large collection of DRM-free music files on Dropbox could dump them into iTunes, or Amazon or Google music products in order to press play on the go. But these giant tech companies appear to be more focused on streaming and Internet radio based on their recent product releases and what’s hottest with users these days.
They or Dropbox could still decide to focus more on cloud music players for the DRM-free users out there, but for now Dropbox users are looking like a backwater… where apps like Tunebox can get away with charging $4.99 for more features and a better experience.
*Kast is a personal friend but of course I have no financial stake in the app, and in fact spend most of my time on Spotify and Pandora.