Now that you own a million devices, you’ve probably got photos, videos, and music scattered all over your iPhone, laptop, and various backup drives. Now, if you could only remember where you put that explicit version of Nicki Minaj's "Did It On'em"...
Never fear. Real Networks is proposing a solution. Early next year, Real plans to launch a new system called Unifi that would allow you to keep track of all your media files, no matter where they’re located.
Unifi, which CEO Bob Kimball and Vice President of Product Marketing Peter Kellogg-Smith announced at All Things D’s “Dive Into Mobile” conference Tuesday, will serve as a catalog of your entire media collection. You just tell it what devices to look at, and it will compile an index of which files are located on which devices.
The catalog, whose interface hasn't been finalized yet (the screenshot above was taken off Kellogg-Smith's laptop and is part of a work-in-progress), will live in the cloud, so you’ll be able to access it no matter what device you happen to be using at any particular time. You'll be able to view and listen to your files with whatever software you prefer. “We don’t want people to change their media experiences,” Kimball said. “We want to make it better.”
Unifi will also help you move files between devices. Say your photos from your trip to Yosemite are on your laptop, but you want to move them on to your iPhone so you can show them to a friend you’re meeting for lunch. You can do that straight from the Unifi interface, and you can do it wirelessly.
Under the hood, Unifi will technically move your photos up to your account in the cloud and then move them from the cloud to your iPhone, but the experience will be the same as if you’d simply moved them device to device.
The system isn’t designed to automatically sync your media between the devices. Kimball and Kellogg-Smith said that's because people don’t actually want all their media on all their devices, especially when some of those devices have limited data storage. What they really want, the executives said, is simply to know where everything is.
The system is slated for launch for iPhone, Android, PCs, and Apple computers in the first quarter of next year. The company plans to eventually make it available on other devices as well. Subsequent versions would also enable you to catalog documents, TV shows, and movies, as well as index your files on Google TV and Apple TV.
Unifi will be available on a freemium basis, offering both a free version and paid versions that give users more storage. Senior VP for Emerging Products Hank Skorny tells Fast Company that the Unifi launch is actually just the beginning for what Real hopes will become your media management system of choice.
The company plans to keep on adding features, including geo-tagging and social components. It will also offer APIs so outside developers can integrate their applications with it.