Dropbox’s new tools reimagine the cloud service as your AI sidekick

Dropbox Dash is like Apple Spotlight search fused with ChatGPT.


Dropbox announced two new products today that (not quite shockingly) shift the company’s focus to AI. Dropbox AI scans your documents, providing summaries and answers, while the more ambitious Dropbox Dash serves as a unified search bar for your life.

Dropbox AI is the simpler of the two new offerings. It applies artificial intelligence to file previews, offering summaries and a natural language Q&A about your docs. “With the click of a button, you can summarize your content, like contracts and meeting recordings, into a concise explanation,” the company explained. Or, ask Dropbox AI questions about the content of a specific file, and it can answer. “With Dropbox AI, now you can pull up a file, ask it anything, and Dropbox will read the document for you and give you an answer,” CEO Drew Houston said in a promotional video.

Meanwhile, Dropbox Dash has a much broader scope, essentially serving as a souped-up and AI-powered version of Apple Spotlight search, Windows Search or third-party launcher apps like Alfred. Dropbox wants Dash to be your one-stop shop for anything you need to know — locally or online. “Dropbox Dash is AI-powered universal search that connects all of your tools, content, and apps in a single search bar,” the company wrote. “With connectors to major platforms like Google Workspace, Microsoft Outlook, Salesforce, and more, you can find everything in one place, fast.” The idea is to provide customers with a ChatGPT-like dialog box that answers questions about all the personal and work-related content in your digital universe.

Screenshot (over teal blue background) of a browser window with an overlay for Dropbox Dash. A cursor is hovering over a back arrow as the result

In addition to being a universal search bar, Dropbox Dash is also a browser extension. The company organizes URLs into Stacks, described as “Smart collections for your links that offer a quick way to save, organize, and retrieve URLs” — similar to how playlists store songs. The extension also adds a start-page dashboard showing search, Stacks, shortcuts and other suggested contextual items. Finally, Dropbox says Dash will eventually “pull from your information and your company’s information to answer questions and surface relevant content using generative AI.” (For example, you could skip searching your business’s internal links and pages and ask Dash when the next company holiday is.)

Trusting a company with all that data is a tall order. Dropbox wants to assure customers that it’s prepared for that responsibility — pledging to be transparent and not sell your data to advertisers. “In this next era of AI, it’s more important than ever that we protect our customers’ privacy, act transparently, and limit bias in our AI technologies so they’re built as fairly and reliably as possible,” the company said.

As lofty as Dropbox’s ambitions are with Dash, I can’t help but see an AI-powered “search box for everything” as a logical extension of modern operating systems. I’d be surprised if Apple, Microsoft and Google haven’t already been working on their versions of an AI-infused universal search bar to eventually bake into their products on the OS level. If those suspicions are correct, that could leave Dropbox with a brief window to establish Dash before the heavy hitters step in and make a third-party variant redundant for most customers.

Dropbox AI for file previews is available in alpha today for Dropbox Pro customers in the US. In addition, it will “start rolling out” for “select Dropbox Teams.” Finally, you can sign up to join the waitlist for Dropbox Dash.