Remember that picture you shared last fall? Or the link you shared in 2009? How about the note you write in CloudApp and shared on Twitter? Or that article that was about … ramen noodles. You shared it, you’re sure. Now how in the world can you find it? Facebook and Twitter’s search sure won’t help you, and it’s no where to be found on your computer.
Welcome to 2012. Back in 1995, folders were enough to organize the digital things you wanted to keep, as they were all on your computer. Bookmarks helped a bit as we transitioned to a world where the web mattered more than files on our devices. Native desktop search made it relatively easy to find our files and favorites. But today, most of the digital things you really want to keep up with are on your social network profiles, and for the most part, are wildly inaccessible and incredibly difficult to find when you want.
It’s time for a new way to organize and find the digital things that really matter to us, no matter where we shared and stored them online. We’ve looked at Otixo, a web app to combine cloud storage services, but it’s still more focused on the old files-and-folders viewpoint. What about the social media part of our lives, that in some ways is often a more important part of people’s digital lives than static files today? That’s where Jolicloud Me comes in.
The Team that Wouldn’t Quit Trying
If you kept up with the netbook space in the years before the iPad launched the tablet wave that’s all but taken over the netbook’s space in the market, then the name Jolicloud might ring a bell. Jolicloud’s first product was Joli OS, a customized version of Ubuntu designed to make running web and native apps on netbooks as seamless and simple as it could be. It was actually quite nice when I’d tried it two years ago, but I never could make the switch to using it all the time over Ubuntu or Windows 7. Joli OS is still alive and well today, and looks nicer than ever, but still, most of us would rather use OS X or Windows or even a more mainstream variant of Linux.
So Jolicloud went back to the drawing board, took their concept of making the cloud easier for everyone to use, and turned it into a brand new app that everyone can use. You might not switch your OS, but trying out a new web app is painless and can only cost you a few minutes. And if it gives you a radically easier way to find the things you care about online, that’d be a few minutes well worth spending.
If only our web apps were nice, stackable boxes...
You Already Use the Cloud … Make it Your Own
Jolicloud’s new service, Jolicloud Me, is currently in beta, so you can sign up to get early access now with your email and password, or a Facebook account. But what is it you’re getting yourself into? Jolicloud Me is an app designed to bring together everything you share online, and make a personal cloud for you so you can find anything you’ve ever shared, quickly and easily. Think of it as Spotlight search, for your own slice of the internet instead of your own hard drive.
Once you’ve signed in, you can go ahead and authorize Jolicloud with Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook. More services are coming soon, including Tumblr and Instapaper. Jolicloud’s netbook OS included great Dropbox integration, so it’d be great to see that as well in the future, and I can’t help but hope that it’ll support CloudApp as well since its my favorite way to share files. But you know what? Most of the stuff we share nowadays, we share on Facebook or Twitter, so really, just by having those two services, they’ve made it possible to find most of the things you’ve shared online, and turn it into your own personal cloud.
5 services you already use ... with more coming soon
If you don’t have a beta invite, right now you’ll only be able to add your accounts. Once your account is activated, though, you’re ready to start exploring your personal cloud. Right on the first page, you’ll see the images, videos, music, documents, and links that you’ve shared through any of the services you added. Select any of the categories to dive in and explore your content, and quickly jump to other sections from the left sidebar that’s reminiscent of the menus in Facebook’s new mobile apps. Plus, you can search through everything Jolicloud has discovered right from the top of the app. It’s a clean, modern interface that makes managing digital content you shared online as intuitive as browsing your computer for files you’d saved locally.
Your cloud, with all the stuff you've shared, all together and organized
Browsing through your files works much as you’d expect. Select any of the categories that your shared content has been sorted into, and you’ll see thumbnails with the content’s name and a small icon of the service where you’d originally shared the file. With pictures, videos, and music, the content opens in a lightbox, where you can see the caption or message you originally used with the content when you shared it.
You can’t add your own note to the content in Jolicloud, sadly, but you can add the file to a collection so you can easily pull it back up. You can also share the file again on Twitter or Facebook, and email sharing is coming soon. Both of these functions are, for the most part, the social media’s equivalent of filing your files and pictures in folders on your computer and sharing them via email, or floppies, or however you used to share files. There is a slight potential security issue, though: if you reshare through Jolicloud, your shared link is visible to anyone. So, if your picture is private on Facebook, as mine below is, the Jolicloud link it lets you share on Twitter makes your private Facebook picture that you shared visible to anyone. That should seem obvious, but do make sure to keep that in mind when resharing files.
Browse all your files, see any info you included when you first shared them, and then reshare them online
Your Social Network Links, Turned Into First-Class Bookmarks
One of my favorite parts, though, was the way Jolicloud Me pulls in links you’ve shared. It apparantly indexes the full text of the links you’ve shared, since you can search for any word in an article you’ve shared and Jolicloud will find it. Very few bookmarking services even offer that. It works surprisingly well. Plus, if you’re in the habit of sharing neat links you find online with your friends on social networks, Jolicloud Me turns all of those links into your own bookmark archive, ready to search and rediscover. That article about ramen noodles you shared years ago? It’s back ready for you to find again.
The links you've shared ... with their full source text searchable!
Often, we’re most likely to remember things related to the time we shared them. Say you know you shared a picture about something earlier this year, and you know sort of what it was about, but can’t find it anywhere. Jolicloud just might be the tool you’re needing. You can browse through everything its imported based on the time you shared it. Just click the calendar icon, and choose the year and month you want to look into. You can then search right in those results. Suddenly, everything you’ve ever shared online becomes a hundred times more useful.
Sort your files by the date you shared them, or search through them all
The best thing is, Jolicloud is simple. Most apps that try to pull in data from multiple sources end up being cluttered and confusing. Jolicloud, however, feels like Finder reinvented for the cloud. You’ve got just the settings you need: options to add or remove services, and settings to turn on or off notifications when friends join Jolicloud and more. It’s simple, direct, and works great.
Want simple settings? You've got simple settings.
So that’s Jolicloud. I ended up much more impressed with it than I expected, and decided that it just might be the best way yet to rediscover your own online content. Our digital lives can get cluttered, and while Google Search has spoiled us to the point that we think we don’t need to remember little details about the world anymore, it’s often impossibly hard to find the little things we found important online and shared. Jolicloud turns that all around, and makes it just as simple as it can be to browse through everything you’ve shared online.
It’s not perfect, and some of the features aren’t fully realized yet. For example, most music I’ve shared either came from Youtube and got categorized as videos, or was in links that Jolicloud didn’t recognize. And while browsing your public social network shares is nice, it’d be even more useful with integration with your more private files from Dropbox, Google Docs, and more. Or what if it could import your inbox and let you search it too? And taking the idea of it being Finder reinvented for the cloud, what if it had an API that other web apps could tie into, so you could import any of your files into other web apps? That would truly be impressive.
For now, it’s a personal search engine on your own shared content. And that’s impressive in its own right. We’re anxious for you to try it out; it’s that good. We only hope it continues to get better!
Reviewed by Matthew Guay on
A new beta service to bring all of your pictures, links, videos, music, documents, and more together from all of your cloud services.
9 out of