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Alan Lepofsky, an analyst with Constellation Research, is optimistic about the company's move, saying that it's a good next step for Box, which has done a good job making it easy for people to share and "have conversations" around files.
"Box Notes is a major step at making Box a more collaborative environment where colleagues can create and collaborate around content right from within Box itself," he said via email. "I expect Box Notes will also provide a nice boost to Box's partner ecosystem, as they will now be able to create add-ons similar to those available for Evernote."
In addition to the real-time, concurrent editing, Box Notes will display collaborators' profile pictures so people can see who is working on a document at any particular time.
Box Notes will also let users add annotations and comments to the documents, which in turn can be shared with other collaborators via a URL link.
Documents created with Box Notes exist within the Box core infrastructure and are thus protected with its existing set of security features, access controls and account settings.
Soon, Box will add Notes to its iOS and Android applications, thus extending its functionality to tablets and smartphones. Also in the works is the ability to embed rich media content on documents, such as photos, videos and audio. Other features in the pipeline are version history, including the ability to revert to earlier versions of a document, and offline editing.
The unveiling of Box Notes isn't a complete surprise, since Box officials have been saying for several months the company wants to get into collaboration apps.
"We have a very long roadmap around collaboration and [file] sharing and how people can work with their data and content," Levie told IDG News Service in July. "We're very early on that roadmap. What you see today is not how the product will look in six or 18 months."
Two recent acquisitions give an idea of what might follow Box Notes.
One is the acquisition of an unreleased application called Folders designed to give iPhone and iPad users a mobile front-end interface for Box as well as for competitors Google Drive and Dropbox.
Box officials have said that the Folders technology will be meshed with Box's iOS application and upgraded later this year. Folders includes a PDF viewer, a music player, document, photo and video viewers, a photo and video recording tool and the capability to create and edit notes.
The other acquired company is Crocodoc, whose HTML5 technology Box plans to use to improve the way documents stored on its service are rendered for viewing, replacing its existing document preview feature.
At BoxWorks on Monday, the company gave attendees a peek at that new iOS app and reiterated it will be launched this year.
Box also showed the updated document preview feature, which renders documents faster and with higher quality, and sports a new user interface that gives more prominence to the content and to collaboration tools. The new preview feature will also go live later this year.