I use Dropbox because it is very easy to share files with friends and access my files anywhere without the need to carry my external hard drive around. When I was a Computer Science undergraduate in NUS, I teamed with some of my elite friends to develop a online light-sync sync tool for Dropbox (Reference: http://onesync.googlecode.com). Since then, I not only use Dropbox, but also try to build tools which are using it.
Syncing files across two computers is a great feature, but I am also interested in another exciting feature of Dropbox, i.e. storing files on the clouds to enable file access from any computer with the Internet connection. I listen to music a lot. I keep my favourite MP3 songs on Dropbox so that I can listen to them in the office and at home. Thus, I thought it would be great if there is a media player specially designed for users who store their music and videos on Dropbox.
Related Work Done by Other People
SugarSync, a competitor of Dropbox, already has its own music player (Reference: http://www.sugarsync.com/blog/2008/09/08/introducing-sugarsyncs-music-player/). It can be launched from the SugarSync File Manager. Thus, SugarSync users can basically build their own favourite music playlist on SugarSync and then play the songs whenever they are, as long as they have Internet access.
Meanwhile, iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match also provides features similar to SugarSync Music Player. iTunes in the Cloud allows users to purchase the songs and listen to them on iOS mobile devices, PC and Mac. With iTunes Match, users are able to match their existing iTunes library with the ones in Apple’s iCloud. I don’t really use it because I cannot make iCloud work in my Windows Vista PC and I don’t use Apple products. Also in order to use iTunes Match, users have to pay a subscription fee of USD24.99 per year. Em… I don’t think there is a need for me to pay just to upload songs in my personal music collection (which are mostly anime songs) and download HQ versions of them.
Last year, Google became one of the online music streaming service providers after the release of Google Music. For Google Music, it supports streaming music to not only PC but also Android devices. Ah-ha, that seems like a good news for me because I have an Android phone! However, the service is currently restricted to only US residents. Haiz… So, I can’t use it also.
So, how about a Dropbox, which is also a file hosting service provider? Unlike iTunes and Google Music, Dropbox is available for free in Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad (Reference: http://www.dropbox.com/)! However, it currently does not have an online music player like the one in SugarSync. Thus, as a Dropbox user, I decided to build one.
Introducing Entertainment Connect
Entertainment Connect is the media player that I build for playing MP3 and MP4 files stored on Dropbox.
Entertainment Connect is a simple web-based Silverlight app. It has a list of songs and videos for the user to choose. The list is manually generated by the users by providing a XML file in the Dropbox folder. Thus, in order to enjoy their favourite music and videos anywhere, the user just needs to put three things: Entertainment Connect folder, playlist and the songs/videos in the Dropbox Public Folder.
Also, although web-based Silverlight app cannot run on mobile devices, even on the Windows Phone 7, I can still get the songs downloaded to my Android phone easily since the files are stored in the Dropbox Public Folder.
Hence, Entertainment Connect provides an alternative for Dropbox users (currently just me) to listen to favourite songs no matter where I am (on train, on bus, in office, at home, blah…). Oh yeah, I can also watch the videos stored in Dropbox on my home TV using Entertainment Connect. =D