The cloud is fast becoming the default storage system for most of us who are hooked into the web. It’s where our photos, documents, music and other important files live. The convenience of saving data into the cloud is as easy as clicking a button. However, keeping track of what we send out to the cloud is not so easy nor convenient.
I first came across Hojoki a few months back, and wrote a review about it here in Web.Appstorm. Although Hojoki is a great app that puts all cloud apps together, its focus is more on collaborating with other users or team members. Enter CloudKafé, a multi-app solution to accessing all your cloud-saved data from one simple web app.
Registering for a CloudKafé account is free, and can either be done by using your Facebook credentials or an email and password.
Contrary to what you might expect, CloudKafé makes aggregating all cloud services as easy and efficient as possible. Upon logging in, a minimalist interface shows which kind of files belong where, as indicated by the icons in big circles. The categories are: Documents, Pictures, Videos, Notes, Contacts and the upcoming Music feature (there are no available services for this yet as of this writing). This app lets you add a number of popular cloud applications, and a full list is posted on their website.
Aggregating services the easy way
Mousing over each of these icons shows the available services you can link to for that specific category. For instance, Document services include Dropbox, Box and Google Drive, while Pictures can be linked with Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. You can then click on the plus icon to add a service for each category.
Linking services requires you to authorize CloudKafé to access information from that service, and this needs to be done for each cloud application. The steps vary for each service, but it generally takes a few steps and is done in a few seconds. You can also assign a more personalized name for your cloud apps/services instead of the generic ones that the CloudKafé provides as a default (i.e. My Dropbox, My Facebook, etc).
The category icons, when clicked, provide a two-column gallery view of your data. The left pane offers controls including a search bar along with the highlighted service that is currently displayed, and an Add account button. To the right would be the thumbnail view of photos, music or files that is currently being accessed. On top, the different icons are shown for toggling between galleries.
Some data apps that keep photos in the cloud are grouped into albums with specific categories. For instance, Instagram photos are sorted by: Likes, Recent, Feed and Popular.
Other media like documents and notes appear in thumbnail view. For Dropbox files, clicking on a thumbnail opens the file in preview mode, with an option to share or download from a drop down menu below. A wrench icon on the corner of each thumbnail offers renaming, moving, copying or deleting folders and files within Dropbox. Any change applies to your Dropbox account, and will be synced with other devices that use the app.
Videos can also be viewed from within the app’s built-in video viewer. Note that you can not download videos from this app.
A small but important feature is the Contacts section. This allows you to access your Google and Yahoo contacts from the app. This proves extremely handy when you have to get someone’s contact details but you’re away from your address book or phone, or wherever you keep your contacts. The Contact gallery is sorted alphabetically, with a search bar on top to quickly pull up a specific contact.
For Evernote notes, the gallery view shows all your notes in the default notebook as set in Evernote. A drop down on the top bar shows all other notebooks that you can shift to. Clicking on notes brings it up in preview mode, and can be downloaded as well.
Minimal but useful features
The welcome surprise I got with CloudKafé is the fact that it lets you upload files. A wrench icon on the top right corner of the Documents gallery offers this option, and you can also create a folder in addition to adding or uploading files. I particularly like this feature because it encourages me to organize my files.
I also like that it allows you to add more than one of the same service — multiple Gmail accounts, for one.
The search bar on the left panel is also a good addition and returns search results in each file category.
Although there are many other web apps that offer access to various cloud storage services, CloudKafé’s main appeal is that it’s free and it’s easy to use. Linking accounts and viewing data is straightforward without any need for advanced technical know-how.
I would like to see more features added in the future, including a way to directly edit and sync text files in Dropbox.
CloudKafé has a lot of potential usability for many of us who struggle to keep our cloud data organized. Although there are many other web apps who offer more advanced and customizable features, this app is a great alternative. Considering it’s free, then it’s a sensible solution to anyone who wants a more organized way of accessing all their files in one place.