Amazon Releases Cloud Drive API

Amazon announced the launch of a Cloud Drive API that allows third-party developers to integrate Cloud Drive into their applications, giving their users the ability to do more with the photos and documents they store using Amazon's service.

"For developers, Cloud Drive eliminates the worry about the complexities of storage, conversion for multiple devices and screen resolutions, metadata management, indexing, search and sync functionality," Amazon says. "Cloud Drive is also plugged into developer tools like Filepicker and Temboo, making it even easier for developers to integrate across cloud services."

At launch, 11 applications have integrated with Cloud Drive. These include OfficeSuite, a productivity app for creating and editing Microsoft Office and PDF files; FreePrints, a photo printing service; and FileThis, which allows users to organize their important documents and make them searchable.

The Cloud Drive API is RESTful and developers have the ability to create, read and update the contents of documents in a Cloud Drive user's account, depending on the level of permissions granted by the user. With sufficient permissions, apps can also add and edit metadata, create folders and delete content. Amazon offers a Changes API so that developers can sync their apps with global changes taking place in a Cloud Drive account. For security, all requests are required to take place over HTTPS.

All apps that use the Cloud Drive API must be whitelisted by Amazon. In development, Amazon provides developers with access to an Amazon Cloud Drive Product Manager. Once an app is ready for production, it will be reviewed, and once approved, Amazon will increase API rate limits and make it available for inclusion in Amazon's Cloud Drive App Gallery.

Another Attack on Dropbox and Box?

Amazon is best known for its e-commerce business, but the online retail powerhouse has also become one of the Internet's largest providers of cloud infrastructure with its Amazon Web Services Platform.

That platform has been used by companies like Dropbox and Box, which have built multibillion-dollar businesses by making it easy for individuals and enterprises to manage their documents and sync them across devices.

More recently, however, it has become apparent that Amazon is interested in being more than just an infrastructure provider to companies like Dropbox and Box. For instance, its file storage and collaboration offering Zocalo, which launched earlier this year, was quickly identified as a possible threat to Dropbox.

Like Zocalo, Amazon's new Cloud Drive API appears to be motivated by an apparent desire to extend its reach with consumers and end users, giving Dropbox and Box yet another reason to worry. While these companies maintain significant advantages over Amazon, Amazon's deep pockets give it the ability to employ some of the same pricing tactics in the cloud storage space that it has used successfully to dominate online retail and to do so at a vulnerable time for Dropbox and Box, which spend significant amounts of money on their own infrastructure and customer acquisition.

If Amazon keeps chipping away with efforts like Zocalo and the Cloud Drive API, there's a good chance it will become a far more prominent player in the end-user space. Whether it can dethrone its upstart competitors, however, only time will tell.

Be sure to read the next Storage article: Dropbox for Business API Aims for the Enterprise