Your Entire Computer in the Cloud: Younity for iPhone

Imagine that Dropbox, Plex, and Remote Desktop had a baby—an app that could give you cloud access to your computer’s entire hard drive and let you view files, pictures, and videos. An app that would let you edit documents stored on your computer without having to startup a less-than-ideal remote desktop window. That app exists, and it’s called Younity. The app is free, available for iOS (Android support is coming soon), and while the app is far from perfect, it shows real potential as a go-to cloud access solution.

Once you download the free iOS app, you need to install the companion app on one (or all) of your computers. The applet, available for both Mac and Windows consumes minimal resources and is pretty bare bones; however, you are allowed to specify what directories the app has access to (which is helpful if you want to restrict certain parts of your drive).

iPhone only At least, for now...

The iOS app is where all of the magic happens. You’re able to select between 4 categories: music, videos, photos, and files. Younity tries to intelligently determine what file goes where and it works—for the most part. Music is very well done and songs are organized by their metadata information. You can sort by artists, albums, songs, and the like. You’re able to stream all your music stored locally on your computers’ hard drives.

Perfect? No; however, Younity shows remarkable promise.

Next, there is the video option. This section is where Younity needs to improve. Unlike Plex which fetches metadata if not present in your totally legal, non-pirated films *wink,* Younity just assumes it’s all there. And for most films you download, it isn’t. Therefore, the items aren’t organized properly in this section and they’re usually listed by filename—not Movie title. Not a huge issue, but annoying. Another thing that was a little odd was the streaming quality. In the settings, you can choose to stream your music in a lossless format (if available); however, there is no bitrate setting for video and it never seemed to establish a 1080p stream if I wasn’t on the same network as my computer. Remotely, I could only get about 480p—certainly shy of the quality Plex can deliver regardless of location. One thing that’s neat (though not unique to Younity) is that you can download a movie to your phone in advance if you anticipate being without a network connection. Handy for planes.

The good news is that the video tab is my only gripe with Younity and the files tab works amazingly well. I’ve given Younity access to my home folder on all of my computers which is handy because I can view pretty much every file and if I have an app that supports it, I can even edit and re-upload these files to my home computer. It’s pretty handy for editing or move, say, a Word document that you forgot to put into your Dropbox.

The last thing worth mentioning, is that you can invite anyone via email the opportunity to view files or directories on your computer through the app if they download it. You can even restrict and revoke access on a per user basis. Great if you want to share a folder or some movies with friends without uploading them to Dropbox. All in all, Younity shows remarkable promise. It’s a fresh, new, cloud alternative that’s absolutely free. It’s not perfect, you’ll run into the occasional bug, but I’m pretty happy with it and am sure that Younity will continue to improve things and add features.

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