Box announces new features including annotations, Zoom integration, and greater personalization

With a growing user base, the cloud content management provider announced a slate of new additions.

Zoom 5.0: How to better secure meetings with the latest features
6:57

Just a month after announcing all-new security features, cloud content management company Box unveiled a new slate of tools and features designed to make the user experience on the platform even more seamless.

Box representatives debuted new features that allow users to annotate more than 100 types of documents, request files, enhanced Zoom integration and Collections, which will help users better organize their files.

"We've seen work styles change more dramatically in the last two months than at any time in the previous few decades," said Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO at Box. 
 
"With the all-new Box, we're taking usability even further, introducing powerful new tools for organizing your files and working together in real-time, while making it easy to bring your content into the applications you use every day."

SEE: Power checklist: Local email server-to-cloud migration (TechRepublic Premium)

In an interview, chief product officer at Box Jeetu Patel explained that the massive surge in remote working since quarantines around the world began prompted the company to make additions to its platform. 

"Our users were looking for three specific things. They wanted access to manage files at any time and on any device. They want to be able to collaborate in real time with people inside and outside their organization, and they want it to be seamless," Patel said. "They also use a basket of different technology, like Slack, Microsoft Teams and others, so they believe their content should be available on any of those apps."

They redesigned the look of Box to promote productivity and make the user faster as well as the experience snappier, Patel noted, adding that now people are spending significantly more time on platforms like Box so it was key to make sure the system was more responsive and easier to use. 

In addition to changing the spacing to give the platform a more lightweight view, they've given users the opportunity to tailor the look of their Box account to their preferences. The new customization features extend to another new tool the company has added called "Collections," which allows users to create and name a dedicated space for projects or related content within Box.

Users can add files, folders, or bookmarked documents into one or more of their personal Collections without affecting collaborators' access to those items in Box, Patel said. 

Box has also increased the number of capabilities available for teams to work together on things right inside the platform. With so many more people working away from each other, collaborative tools have become key for teams to continue sharing insights without a white board.

"All you have to do is highlight an area and leave a comment directly there. You can do that across 140 different file types that you can view in our preview engine, so you can now have annotations across any of those file types in a consistent manner. You don't have to learn different annotation mechanisms based on the file," Patel said. "You also don't have to download the file to place an annotation on it. People want to access a file, view a file, and make comments that other people can see." 

SEE: Nextcloud Hub: User tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Another key feature is File Request, which allows users to get files as well as metadata from people inside and outside of an organization. 

Patel noted that the number of people using the Zoom integration with Box has risen significantly over the past few months, prompting the company to enhance it further with the ability to create or join a Zoom meeting directly from a piece of content in Box right  from Box Preview.

According to Patel, the All-Box user interface, which includes Collections and Enhanced File Request, is available in public beta today. The enhanced Zoom experience is planning to be launched in late May, and annotations will be generally available in July.

"The future of the workforce looks starkly different to the one of the recent past, and a large number of organizations will permanently keep at least a portion of their workforce remote," said Barbara Peck, principal analyst of Nucleus Research, in a press release. 

"Cloud technology is more important than ever, with secure collaboration and integrations with best-of-breed applications being key to future-proofing business operations. Box, a leader in Nucleus Research's Content Management and Collaboration Value Matrix, is uniquely positioned to address the unprecedented shift in remote work with its focus on secure remote collaboration."

Also see

Business team connect pieces of gears. Teamwork, partnership and integration concept

Image: alphaspirit, Getty Images/iStockphoto