Dropbox has launched on the Roku, with an app that allows you to view the photos and videos you have stored in your account directly on your TV by way of Roku’s streaming media player. The new app itself is simple to use – you can browse through your folders, view thumbnails and slideshows, and even search for items by name.
But wait, I know what you’re thinking: Does this mean you can now use Dropbox to watch your entire digital movie collection, beyond just your home videos? Apparently not at this time.
The app’s launch was spotted earlier today by Dave Zatz, who suggested that Dropbox’s arrival could make for an interesting competitor to Plex or perhaps a way to store exported TiVo recordings, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. At least, not at this point.
After uploading a handful of movie files in the following formats – .mkv, .avi, and .mp4 – I found that Dropbox on the Roku was able to play each file, but not the entire thing. Each file was roughly two hours long, and just under 2 GB in size. The files themselves worked fine in other media players and would play in their entirety from Dropbox on the web or in the Dropbox mobile app. However, via the Dropbox Roku app, the files were only around 14 to 15 minutes long – indicating there is a limit on what you can view via the Dropbox Roku app.
Meanwhile, shorter videos uploaded from my iPhone’s Camera Roll (.mov) played just fine.
In other words, Dropbox is not ready to be home to your pirated movie collection. (Not that mine were pirated movies, of course. Ahem. But let’s say they were…it would only be for the purpose of testing this feature, naturally. I’m certainly deleting them afterwards.)
That makes the new app less interesting in terms of being a potential alternative to something like Plex’s media server, but still a handy way to view personal photos and movies on the big screen. It would be useful for things like photo slideshows at events, for instance, or watching home movies in your living room.
In addition, others who spotted the app have also noticed that it will allow you to view your email attachments from Yahoo Mail if you have that integrated. (These show up in a “Yahoo Mail” folder in Dropbox.) But the app is not meant to serve as a way to view all your Dropbox files. It won’t show your office files, PDF or Word documents, for example.
We reached out to Dropbox for more details on the app itself, including details on supported file types, and restrictions on movie length or size of uploads, but the company declined to comment ahead of its official announcement. We understand that the Roku launch may be part of broader news.
This is Dropbox’s first app for streaming media players, as before today, Dropbox only offered desktop clients and mobile apps, in addition to its web interface. Hopefully, though, it’s the first of several apps that bring Dropbox to the big screen.
Update: We now understand that this is an integration built and owned by Roku using Dropbox’s public APIs, as opposed to something Dropbox built itself.