Younity makes its limitless personal cloud service social, unshackling the files stored on all your devices
Five months after launching its personal cloud service to the public, younity is back with a version 1.5 update that adds two highly requested features, as well as general performance upgrades. Younity gained popularity for its ability to sync an unlimited number of files between a user’s multiple connected devices for free. For example, the 100GB music collection on a user’s home computer can be streamed from their iPhone from around the world, as can the photos on their smartphone be viewed from a laptop while on the road.The caveat to this solution is that all devices in the private network must be on and connected to the Internet in order for their files to be available online. The reason for this is that younity does not copy a user’s files to the cloud, and is not a backup service. Rather it provides cross device file syncing and streaming.
With today’s update, the company has added the ability to share files through Facebook, even with social connections who are not younity users. Combined with the always available nature of the existing product, this means that the second you tell a friend about a great new band, you can share your collection of that band’s songs with them. Or, while reminiscing at dinner about a great vacation five years ago, users can pull up the photos stored on a home computer. In other words, i’s the spontaneity that will make this valuable.
The company accomplishes its social sharing through a Facebook app that delivers files via a private message and makes them available directly in the browser. In the case of music and video, the files can be streamed, but not downloaded or re-shared, in a nod to copyright infringement concerns. Photos, documents, and applications, however, can be downloaded by the recipient. This could prove a small inconvenience in the event that a user is trying to share a personal home video, for which copyright concerns are a non-issue – and the company is considering solutions for such cases – but overall the feature should be a welcome one.
Secondly, the company has added the ability to extend the personal cloud syncing to external storage drives (external hard drives, thumb drives, memory cards, etc.), making it easy to access large media libraries and other archives. Rather than simply allow users to register these external drives, the company added a bit of intelligence to the process in recognition of the fact that the drives, by their nature, are portable. As a result, if you disconnect an external drive from one registered device, such as a home desktop PC, and then reconnect it to another, such as a laptop, the drive is immediately recognized and synced with the rest of the user’s younity personal cloud.
Together, the two updates simply extend younity’s existing solution for making all of a user’s files, regardless of where they are stored, available everywhere, regardless of device. The product is not meant to compete with Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or the other cloud storage solutions on the market. In fact, it’s working on integrations with several such products. While the aforementioned products solve the backup and storage of a few dozen gigabytes worth of files, max, younity solves the problem of making the average user’s one terabyte (1,024GB) worth of digital data available everywhere.
As CEO Erik Caso told us around the company’s launch, “We think the concept of individual ‘devices’ is irrelevant. We hope to eliminate the concept entirely and make it as if all your devices are a single device.”
Younity's parent company, Entangled Media, raised a Seed round of undisclosed size from Oakview Group, Gramercy Fund, Toys ‘R Us New Ventures, Brian Lee, Kamran Pourzanjani, Greg Arrese, Brad Jones, Mark Kolokotrones, Tom Turney, and Mucker Lab, having participated in the accelerator's Fall 2012 class.
Younity is currently free, although the product will likely be offered under a freemium model in the future, where users pay not for storage capacity – because the company doesn’t store any files – but rather for the number of devices that can access one’s personal cloud.
As the number of devices in the average consumer’s arsenal increases, as does the average size of one’s digital identity, solutions like younity will prove increasingly essential. In fact, a decade or two from now, the idea of wondering where a file is stored will likely seem as foreign as talking on a phone that is attached by a cord to the wall. Whether younity can be the one to solve this issue for the masses remains to be seen. But, to put it bluntly, it’s already doing a better job than any other product on the market.