Dropbox and Google Drive work quite well for sharing files with friends and family, but a whole other genre of apps exist for people who need to share files even faster. CloudApp and Droplr are two notable entries, which let you share files by dragging them into a menu bar app, at which point a URL is dropped into your clipboard for sharing. The latest app to join the fray is Cloudup, a design-focused and dead-simple take on file sharing launching Thursday for Mac, and for web on desktop and mobile.
What makes Cloudup different is that instead of focusing solely on the act of sharing quick URLs with friends, the app attempts to make viewing files more elegant and useful. If you drop links into a "stream," which is essentially a web-based folder, Cloudup converts them into Instapaper-style pages that are easy to read. If you add videos to a stream, Cloudup transcodes them to small file sizes for people watching on mobile. But, the app's most important feature, according to CEO Thianh Lu, is that you can share links to streams before they've even finished uploading. A friend can open a Cloudup URL you sent and start browsing photos or videos as you're uploading them. It all takes place in real-time, so uploading a photo from the web app on mobile shows up instantly on your computer screen.
And of course, the app has a variety of functions you'd expect from a file sharing app, like drag-and-drop upload through a Mac menu bar app, automatic screenshot uploading, and password-protected files and streams. You can even paste whatever's in your clipboard directly into the web view, if you'd like.
At a high level, Cloudup might have in fact have more in common with file-sharing "boards" like Icebergs or Dropmark, but Cloudup places a greater focus on mobile. The company's mobile web app is quick at uploading photos and transcodes videos for watching on the go, though it won't let you upload more than one photo simultaneously.
Cloudup is a formidable first effort, but is still missing several key features, like premium tiers (so you can upload more than 1000 items, the current limit) and native apps, but the company says these things are in the pipeline. And Dropbox could, in a flinch, add functionality to let you share items by dragging them to the menu bar. The company recently acquired Snapjoy to help supplement its efforts to make Dropbox a destination, and not just a file storage service. But Cloudup is aspiring to something greater — becoming an alternative to posting photos and links on Facebook or Twitter, and this part can't be so quickly cloned.