Dropbox gets cloudier with API for syncing data, not just files

Dropbox will change the way applications run on your various devices with its new Datastore API that lets developers save, not just files, but information about where a user is inside an application. With this new application programming interface (API) Dropbox is moving from the era of files to an era of real-time collaboration and sharing.

“Sync is the new save,” Dropbox CEO Drew Houston (pictured) said at the company’s first ever Dropbox developer conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The big announcement made Tuesday at the Dropbox developer conference held in San Francisco is the introduction of the Datastore API, which enables raw structured data to be synced inside Dropbox across multiple devices. This means someone can play a game or use an app on one device, and as long as that device is connected, they can shift their gameplay to another device and be in the same place.

During a demo of a drawing app being used on both a laptop and a tablet, there was a bit of lag, but it was definitely a different experience from just syncing fully finished files back and forth among devices inside Dropbox.

If a device goes offline, the data will be synced in Dropbox later, as soon as internet service is restored.

The API works across iOS, (s aapl) Android (s goog) and Javascript, Houston said.”You don’t have to worry about the logo that’s on the back of the device,” he said.

Also announced was a Saver function for developers to plunk into their code in order to get files quickly into Dropbox.

Dropbox clearly has to compete against larger file-sharing rivals such as Box, which has been going out of its way to make developers want to build more apps that integrate with the file-sharing service, with a new financial incentive SDKs.

But with these announcements, Dropbox is making its own bold moves, sharing a vision that goes far beyond file sharing, into the real-time nature of the future web. That puts it in league with other companies, such as Google, Microsoft and VMware’s Pivotal Initiative that are taking up beyond files and into real-time collaboration and information sharing across devices.

Updated at noon PT with additional contributions from Stacey Higginbotham.