Private file-sharing service drop.io is jumping on the “real-time” bandwagon, speeding up its application to make it a near-instantaneous experience and adding chat. Before, drop.io was slightly asynchronous in that one person would have to upload their photos, movies, music, or documents that they wanted to share, and everyone else would have to wait until they were uploaded before they were available. Now, the app is pretty much instantaneous, with a live stream of files, comments, and chat appearing in every participants window at exactly the same time. Music and other media are playable inline, and no page refreshes are necessary. (The magic is a new XMPP backbone).
Transferring a large photo, for instance, looks more like file-sharing on Skype in that when you send a file, the receiving party sees a download progress bar. Except that the entire app is much more visual and works across the various drop.io input methods: via its Website, Firefox plug-in, and email.
What is perhaps more significant is that drop.io is adding chat to its service, which lets people collaborate entirely within the app without resorting to another IM client or email to talk about the files that are being transferred. Since drop.io is a one-to-many service, it is easy to share and chat across large groups. A chat window pops down at the bottom. Chat is also supported on the iPhone and Android phones. You can watch a screenshare here.
Drop.io is taking its cues from other real-time feeds that are becoming the default UI for everything from Facebook to Twitter to FreindFeed to Bebo. Any file can also be commented on. When you add the files—which can be anything from photos to movies to voicemails, with chat and comments—what you end up with is a private activity stream around each shared file. Drop.io calls this the “blog view.”
All-in-all it makes for a more engaging experience than the lonely dropbox of yore.