Yesterday, we wrote about Google remaking core iPhone software better than Apple. But don’t forget the humble personal computer. Collections is aiming to make the most basic element of an OS — the Finder — something more modern, robust, and useful. The company – which hopes to close an angel round early next year — launches the product in private beta today.
The idea is based on the notion: How would the Apple Finder be different if it were invented today? The Y-Combinator backed company built a native Mac app that lets users manage all of their media content like Facebook and Instagram photos, Tweets and videos, alongside other cloud-based things like Google Docs. Integrating your Gmail account allows you to sift through thumbnails of email attachments.
The product also allows a user to toggle between Dropbox and Google Drive content and the more traditional Finder material like Word docs and other native apps. “For all the talk about moving to the cloud, the reality of it is we still have a lot of things on our computers,” says Jordan Lee, one of the company’s cofounders. “We don’t think that’s going away anytime soon.”
Part of the appeal of building out the product was sheer curiosity; rethinking the most fundamental part of any OS sparked the developer in him, says Lee. And part of it was trying to make things simpler for a user in the vast and sprawled out Internet. “People think they have no control over their personal content,” says Lee. “They’re not sure if they own it, or if they can delete it.”
Lee says he was inspired to build out a product that was simple in its strategy after interning for President Obama’s first election campaign in Chicago. After finishing up as an undergrad at Harvard, he joined the campaign as part of the new media team, working on Neighbor to Neighbor, a piece of software that allowed volunteers to connect with the campaign without having to come into an office. When his cofounder Tony Xiao showed him an early version of Collections, Lee knew it was the right next step.
For now, the company has a major Apple bent. Lee said he wanted the product to be “modern, suped up version of the Finder. The company’s logo is not subtle about that: It’s is a variation on the familiar Apple finder logo – the square, two-toned happy face. Instead, Collection’s version is half of a rounded smiley face overlaid against a wall of app icons. But while Mac was the first item of order, the company wants to eventually build for all platforms. Next is Window 8, then a tablet version, then a mobile version.
The service is a nice way to bring all of a user’s content into one place. And while Lee admits it can’t completely replace the original Finder now, he certainly thinks it can eventually. But the Finder is such a basic part of the computing experience that it may be hard to lure people away from it en masse. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time users opted for a better product than the stock one Apple offers out of the box – Firefox and Chrome have crushed Safari. And as more things head to the cloud – which they will – it could make something like Collections all the more useful.
[Image credit: blakespot at Flickr]