Think about the sheer amount of media content you have stored on your Mac and any backup drives you have. Chances are, the combination of video, music and photos in your personal collection is staggering, but the real problem is sharing it with friends and family.
In an effort to offer a solution that can work on a variety of different Web-connected devices, an Israeli developer came up with Libox as a simpler method to uploading and sharing content without any storage limitations. The coolest part of the app is that it can do this easily with high-definition files as well. Let’s see how it all plays out.
Uploading Your Media
You can use Libox in a couple of different ways, and I’ll show you how those connect as I move along here. Before you download the desktop application, you need to sign up for a free account on the Libox site. Once you’ve done that and installed the app on your Mac, launch it and log in.
The Libox interface is pretty clean and seamless with the left column listing all the options you have, and the right showcasing everything in a tiled format. To get a sense of how the software plays files, the developers included some stock video content for your own testing. But naturally, you are more interested in how your own content will work.
The next step is to upload media to your account, so you can view it and even share it if you want. You can do this in a couple of different ways — you can point Libox at specific folders already on your Mac, or create a new one and throw in whatever you want to upload.
The size of the files will make a difference to how long the upload process goes. This is especially true of HD video files, which can take a long time to upload if they’re anything more than just short clips. But the beauty of it is that uploading doesn’t compress the original file in any way.
In other words, you can view the same clip without sacrificing quality. The problem is just that it can take a bit too long to upload a lot of HD clips. The bright side is that Libox isn’t too picky about file format. An MKV file played just as well as an MPEG4 one did, for example. I haven’t seen an actual list of supported formats, so I can’t say for sure what will work and what won’t, but it seems like many formats will.
With the uploading out of the way, you can browse through whatever you just synced over by using the Home tab. This aggregates the files together, regardless of media type, but you can also browse those separately by just clicking the respective tabs on the left.
In the case of photos, you can search by date, country or albums. Video can be browsed by date, country or playlist, and music can be browsed by tracks, albums, artists, genres or playlists.
Sharing Your Files
Now that you’ve got your files up and running, you can start to choose how you want to share them. The best part is that sharing can be done specifically to one friend, or to as many as forty contacts. Click on an album, playlist, video, or even a combination of media and click on ‘Share’ to bring up the sharing interface.
At this point, you just have to input the email addresses you want to share with, and Libox will send them a note. The caveat is that recipients can only view the shared content after they’ve signed up for their own free accounts, something that might detract those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy.
One way to convince them would be to tell them that they don’t have to commit to uploading anything. Indeed, they can just have their accounts to purely enjoy whatever content you share with them.
Another compelling tidbit is that shared photos can be downloaded by recipients as well. And since photos are at their original resolution, they can be printed with ease, too. This is an important feature for those who typically share photos on Facebook or Flickr. For starters, there is more privacy with Libox, and those services don’t always allow full resolution images to be uploaded.
Music and video, on the other hand, can’t be downloaded by recipients — only viewed and commented on.
Despite the fact there is a desktop app, Libox also has a Web-based app, which would be the ideal way recipients can access what you’re sharing with them. Signing up for an account is one thing, but at least they won’t have to download and install the desktop app.
What is great about the Web-based side of Libox is that you can access your own files and download them remotely, despite recipients not being able to. This includes mobile browsers on Android and the iPad as well. An iPhone app has also been launched that streamlines the process, too.
In fact, you can shoot photos and video on the iPhone and upload them directly to your Libox account, where you can decide how to share them.
The developers have made it clear that Libox isn’t a backup solution because no data is actually stored on their servers. Instead, the software leverages peer-to-peer sharing algorithms to stream the data to whatever devices you happen to use with Libox.
The very premise of what Libox aims to do could lead to some legal issues when it comes to all this content distribution. While it’s great to share family and vacation clips and photos, it’s just as easy to share stuff that has copyright written all over it. But then again, if that content is bought and paid for, what is the difference in sharing it, especially if it can’t be downloaded? It’s really no different than having a group of friends together to watch a movie.
Where Libox goes from here is anyone’s guess, but the way it works in its current form is really promising. To be able to watch HD video without losing a lot of image quality is appealing in its own right, but the other features are also just as functional.