Sharing video in the mobile age is still just as clunky and labor intensive as it was in the desktop era. Sure, uploading it to YouTube or Facebook is easy enough—but there are few decent options for sharing them directly with only a few select people. And god help you if you're trying to share content across platforms. But a new freemium service from Real Media aims to eliminate the hassle of uploading and sharing video altogether.
Dubbed RealPlayer Cloud, this service integrates cloud-based video storage with universal sharing capabilities. It's designed to facilitate seamless sharing and online storage for all of your non-DRM protected video. It's actually quite slick.
So, say you take a short video of your cat doing something cute on your new iPhone 5 and want to share it with family and friends. Traditionally, you'd either have to upload the video to YouTube or Facebook and mark it as private, or dump it into a shared Dropbox folder, or—if it were even small enough—email it as an attachment. Those are all a major pain to accomplish, especially for a nine second clip of a prank you pulled on your co-worker (or whatever). Instead, says Real Networks interim CEO Rob Glaser in a press release, "we’ve made video easy.”
Rather than demand that end users perform the video encoding before uploading the content, RealPlayer Cloud uses SurePlay technology to do it automatically in the cloud. It even optimizes the encoding process so that you can play back the video while it's still being uploaded. And when the content is shared to someone running a separate OS—say, Android—the RPC will automatically match the downloaded or streamed content to the device type and codec, while adapting the feed to the available bandwidth and screen size. What's more, anybody you share the content with is free to download it directly to their device for offline playback.
The RealPlayer Cloud is available on a number of platforms: iOS and Android, phones and tablets, Roku, Mac and Windows desktop—there's even an in-browser function for folks that don't want to bother installing the dedicated mobile app.
The new service will offer 2GB of storage free for members, though bandwidth is limited to sub-1080p quality for free accounts. Better quality video and bigger lockers will be offered on a subscription basis. As Jeff Chasen, VP of Product and Software Development told Gizmodo during a recent demo:
We're gonna have a plan that gives you, basically 25 gigs, 100 gigs and 300 gigs, for different price tiers. They're gonna be $4.99, $9.99, and $29.99. Not only do they give you more storage, but they also give you higher profiles, video profiles, so you can get a higher resolution. So if you start with an HD for one, the higher tiers will give you higher quality so you can play on a big screen TV and it will look great. The free accounts basically we have three profiles, we go up to 1.5mbps, so pretty close to HD but not quite.
I also had an opportunity to watch the system in action and, despite my initial suspicions (Real Networks, are those guys even still a thing?) I came away very impressed. The cloud-based service is fast—I could start watching a video that was only half uploaded without issue—and it takes the guesswork out of converting and sharing video, which is exactly what it was designed to do.
And while you could pair this with a YouTube-slurper to download copyrighted movies and content, that shit's illegal—so don't. Instead, the RealPlayer Cloud could become a potent compliment to Google Chromecast. Use the Chromecast for your streaming needs and the RPC to handle your local video content. Sure, you'll need to have a Roku installed on your TV for that to work, but it definitely beats crowding the family around a tiny tablet screen.