Two weeks ago Upthere, the cloud company co-founded by former OS X chief Bertrand Serlet, officially launched after several years of stealth development. Details were still sparse on what exactly Upthere would offer aside from being a different kind of cloud service option for your data. Now Upthere is officially launching its first products in beta: Upthere Home and Upthere Camera.
The idea behind Upthere is that data connections are plenty fast for a lot of people but local storage is a growing issue. Cloud services like Dropbox and iCloud tackle different areas of the problem is different ways, but Upthere believes keeping everything on the server then bringing it to your device on demand is the suitable approach. I got the chance to try out each of the new apps overnight, and while my data is spread across iCloud and Dropbox right now, Upthere’s new apps make a good first impression and look promising.
The first app runs on the Mac and is called Upthere Home, seen above. For me, I started by sharing media with Upthere: my photo library from Apple’s Photos app, my music collection in iTunes, and even the fun snapshots from Photo Booth. (I use Apple Music and iCloud Photo Library, but I haven’t previously been able to easily sync Photo Booth to a cloud library before.) The app itself is basically a portal organized by your Photos & Videos, Music, and Documents. There’s a Flow section for seeing what’s been added in a timeline format, and other Upthere users can share collections called Loops with you that appear in the app. Adding and saving media is as easy as dragging and dropping content in and out of the portal, or you can share media with anyone using email.
Over on iOS, Upthere offers two apps: the mobile Upthere Home and Upthere Camera. Once you’ve used Upthere Home for Mac, the iPhone version is easily familiar as it’s organized by the same Flow, Photos, Music, Documents, and Loops sections. Upthere Home on iPhone can really be the Music and Photos app plus iCloud Drive all in one (admittedly decent) app. There’s also search and sharing features included.
Upthere Camera is even more interesting to me. It’s a pretty bare bones camera app with support for toggling flash on or off and switching between front and back cameras, and snapping a photo uploads it to Upthere so you don’t take up local storage and run out. Scroll down below your main camera and you’ll find your recently taken photos in a mosaic grid. Tapping one reveals metadata as well as share options.
Upthere Camera also lets you snap and add to shared collections, Loops (similar to Shared Photo Streams), right in the app. You can also make new cameras that you share with other Upthere users right in the app. It works pretty well and overall looks really slick. Browsing and searching for photos in your whole library will take place over on Upthere Home, but the approach to taking a photo and it instantly going to the right cloud bucket with this app is a neat one.
Upthere is still in beta and only in the US and Canada so data tiers and pricing details aren’t yet part of the equation, but the company says it expects Upthere to be a paid service that’s “significantly cheaper” than paying for more storage each time you upgrade your device. Upthere is starting to add people to the beta today; you can sign up to join the beta at Upthere.com, then follow the prompts to access the apps once you’re added.
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So it’s basically a smarter Dropbox.com webview? Straight interaction with the server instead of using local storage?
So what is it going to cost?