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We have some exciting news that we wanted to share with you. Loom is now officially part of Dropbox, and we couldn’t be happier to join forces!

We’ve been working hard to create a photo management solution for people just like us. People who have too many photos in too many places, taking up space, collecting dust on our phones, our computers and our external hard drives. It’s a big problem and a common one that many have been grinding hard to solve!

It’s been a long road and we feel that we have come a long way in solving this problem. We are elated to announce the next step in this journey: Loom is becoming a part of the Dropbox family. We look forward to this transition as the next step in creating a home for all of your photos and videos, seamlessly organized, while still keeping them at your fingertips. With Carousel, Dropbox has created a gallery for your life’s memories. It’s a single home for all your photos and videos, automatically organized and always with you.

So what does this mean for Loom? As of today, we are no longer enrolling new users. Existing Loom users can continue to use our service until May 16, 2014. And don’t worry, we want to do whatever it takes to make any transition as smooth as possible.  You can export your data directly to Dropbox with no interruption in service. You will receive a follow-up email with more details and instructions. And if you switch to Carousel, you will receive the same amount of free space that you had on Loom on Dropbox, forever. If you were a paid user, you will receive the same quota on Carousel/Dropbox for free, for an entire year!

Alternatively, you will be able to request a copy of your entire library, including all your albums, and original untouched photos/videos inside a zip file.

We know this is a big deal. This decision was made with great care. We have worked hard on our product and feel that our vision aligns perfectly with Dropbox’s vision for Carousel. Dropbox has invested the past seven years focusing on building a secure home for your files. And now with Carousel comes a home for your photos and videos as well. We share the common goal of crafting a high quality product, always putting users’ needs first. After spending some serious time investigating if this was the right move for us, we realized that Dropbox has solved many problems around scaling infrastructure and at Dropbox the Loom team will be able to focus entirely on building great features with a fantastic user experience. We are enthusiastic about being able to contribute our ground level perspective to help craft a beautiful experience for our users. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters most to us.

We would like to send out a heartfelt “Thank You” to all of our users. It’s been an immensely exciting journey and we are humbled by the support we received along the way. Your feedback was invaluable and inspired us to push our product to be the best it could be. Thank you. We are grateful for our past and look forward to a bright future.

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A Loom update is now available in the App Store with new features designed to make sharing and using your photos and videos even easier. We gave you more sharing options to choose from, updated the Photo Page, and added social sharing through other apps! You can also download multiple items to your camera roll in one quick action, as well as save your videos back to the camera roll.

Photo Pages

To share items from your library, Loom currently creates a link of the selected items to what we now call your “Photo Page”. Photo Pages are created within seconds, allowing you to send an unlimited number of items in one simple quick message. We have made some improvements to the “Photo Page” display and interface for a more seamless and beautiful experience.

New Sharing Features

You can choose to embed photos directly into a message or email. Photos are displayed within the message itself to be instantly enjoyed by the recipient. And now, you have the freedom to upload directly to Facebook, share to Twitter, or open your photo in other apps like Instagram – all from within Loom! This means you can keep your photos at your fingertips, save loads of local space on your devices, and still have the benefit of sharing your photos and videos any way you prefer.

Quick and Easy Downloading

We’ve also created more ways to keep your photos close at hand. Now you can download multiple items at once. And if you want your videos back on your camera roll, you can save them anytime.

Download Loom for iPhone or iPad!

That’s it for now! Check our blog for future tips, tricks, and details. As always, we appreciate your feedback and input, and if you’re enjoying Loom, please consider leaving a review in the App Store!

New to Loom? Loom keeps all your photos and videos at your fingertips while saving you space. More space to play.

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Happy New Year…. we have another update for you! Now you can access your photos on Loom.com directly from your Mac App with one click.

In your Loom Uploader window, you will notice an additional icon next to the Download arrow beside each album title. Clicking on this icon will immediately take you that album on Loom.com in your browser. One of the best parts is that now you don’t even need to sign in! Loom will take a token from the Mac App to the browser so you get immediate access to your photos and videos seamlessly. This is the first step toward simpler browsing on your desktop so please enjoy and stay tuned for more.

That’s it for now! Check our blog for future tips, tricks, and details. As always, we appreciate your feedback and input, and if you’re enjoying Loom, please consider leaving a review in the App Store!

New to Loom? Loom is your entire photo and video library, unified in one place, accessible from any device. View your photos, create albums, and manage your library from anywhere you are. Download Loom.

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Many users want the best of both worlds: a cloud based library accessible anywhere with the ability to download in bulk. So a while ago we added this feature to our Mac App and thought we would point you in the right direction.

First, if you don’t have Loom for your Mac, you’ll need to download the Mac App and sign in.

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When you launch Loom on your Mac, you will see the icon at the top of your screen, in your tray. Clicking on the tray icon and choosing Uploader from the drop down menu opens a window where you manage your local Mac sources.

On the left you see your Sources, and on the right hand side are all your albums. This is a comprehensive list of all albums in your Loom library. Clicking on any of the small arrows next an album will immediately begin downloading that entire album to your Mac. Create an album anywhere on Loom and download it to your computer with one click. Also, not only are the parent albums downloaded, all nested sub albums will be downloaded as well. And as always, you will receive your untouched, full resolution original photos.

That’s it for now! Check back for future tips, tricks and details. As always, we appreciate your feedback and input, and if you’re enjoying Loom, please consider leaving a review in the App Store!

New to Loom? Loom keeps all your photos and videos at your fingertips while saving you space. Available for Mac, iOS and web. Download Loom.

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We heard your requests for larger premium plans and we’re excited to announce that we have added new options to accommodate!

As of today you can choose any of these plans:

  • 50GB – $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly
  • 100GB – $8.99 monthly or $89.99 yearly
  • 250GB – $14.99 monthly or $149.99 yearly

Or choose one of our newly added, bigger plans – perfect for those with sizable archives, professional or simply passionate photographers, or anyone who simply wants more space:

  • 500GB – $34.99 monthly or $349.99 yearly
  • 1TB for – $69.99 monthly or $699.00 yearly 

Upgrade Your Account Today!

Already have a plan? Any previous purchases can be renewed and kept for the life of your account. As long as you continue to renew your current plan before the next cycle expiration date, you can keep it. If you do not renew and your plan expires, you can choose from the available plans at that time.

New to Loom? Loom keeps your photos and videos at your fingertips while saving you space. More space to play.

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We hope you’re enjoying your holidays! We thought we would drop you a note to let you know that our existing plans and pricing are now available for a limited time. We heard your requests for larger plans and are going to update our options soon to accommodate. You can purchase any plan currently available until January 3rd, 2014.

Any purchases made before that date can be renewed and kept for the life of your account- no matter what. So grab the plan that’s right for you at Loom.com/plans and stay tuned for our next updates.

Upgrade Your Account Today!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

New to Loom? Loom keeps your photos and videos at your fingertips while saving you space. More space to play.

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Video support for Loom: We’re tackling it, and here’s how…

At Loom we’ve been hard at work on one of the most exciting features we’ve ever released: video support. Streaming videos on all your devices, directly from where they’re stored in the cloud means all your videos at hand, without taking any local storage space.

But we’re not just excited about the feature itself - we’re excited about how we’re executing it. Why? Because we’re not just implementing video support, we’re doing it in the most user-friendly way that is currently possible. In other words, we don’t want Loom to just support video streaming; we want it to be damn good at it.

We’re offering this story not just for our curious users, but also for any other startups that are considering going through these hurdles too.

First, a few background details…

Video and movie files are becoming an increasingly important form of media. YouTube has revolutionized the consumption of videos and paved a way for anyone to easily broadcast their videos to a massive viewership. And more recently, short, quickly made video clips have become incredibly popular- thanks to the likes of Snapchat, Vine and Instagram. The invention of camera phones gave consumers’ the ability to shoot these videos anywhere. Naturally, users want to access and view these videos on anywhere, anytime. We recognized this need and wanted to solve it. But we learned very quickly here at Loom that how video support is actually accomplished, to put it briefly, is a whole other story.

The Options…

Currently, a company can stream videos by either encoding live “on-the-fly” when video is being requested or they can encode every video after it’s been uploaded. And they can either do the encoding themselves, or use third-party services to outsource the process.

At Loom, we’ve decided to build it ourselves. Coming to this decision wasn’t easy, and we actually attempted to outsource our transcoding first. But in the end, we sort of created our own solution. There will be more about that later. Let’s first look at the obstacles we faced, and overcame.

The Challenges…

Up until about 5 months ago, it would have been impossible (or at least incredibly complex) to build your own software for handling personal videos. Public encoding software was immature and support for streaming requirements simply didn’t exist yet. This was a stumbling block because there are several requirements that need to be met before you can play videos on a device. For instance, to stream video on iOS, Apple requires a specific Apple protocol for downstreaming video called HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). To meet this requirement and others like it, can be daunting to say the least. And that is just the beginning. Handling the entire processing of videos stored in the cloud is far from easy. Video files need to be prepped and formatted correctly before they can be easily downstreamed. There are several fairly significant challenges.

Challenge One: On-demand and real-time live transcoding and segmenting of incoming videos

Currently, server technology that follows HLS protocol involves too much latency to support a quick live transcoding and downstreaming option for video files. HLS protocol was built to be served by normal webservers, not video streaming servers. On normal webservers, HLS is usually easy to implement and scale, because these servers normally have the infrastructure necessary. But it serves videos in segments of a certain length, and, if you follow Apple’s recommendations, you can experience as long as 30 seconds of latency – an unrealistic amount of time for a user to wait for a video after pressing ‘play’. To be fair, you could shave off a few seconds from the recommendations, but it’s still not getting you near an optimal speed. And no matter how fast the Internet will be in the near future, it’s simply inefficient to interact with original video files in the cloud, transcoding them on the fly. Even if server technology advances, it will still create a degree of needless lag for the user.

Challenge Two: Finding out the right bandwidth stream versions

Finding the right bandwidth stream versions was our second challenge. In many cases, the video quality created by a device is too high for it to stream back on the device, and is sometimes higher than the optimal resolution for the size of the screen. The iPhone 5, for example, records 1080p HD videos, and it’s difficult to send that much data through the Internet for most viewing purposes. Connection quality and bandwidth capabilities are too unreliable or insufficient- especially on mobile devices.

Apple recommends that developers have 6 to 7 compressed versions available for video streaming, with each version increasing data at a factor of 1.5 for a gradual gain in quality. Essentially, versions need to be prepared for the slowest devices with slow connections, with increasingly better quality versions as the device quality and connection quality improves.

Challenge three: balancing cost of storage of video versions, segment processing, and viewing experience

This is the real conundrum – balancing cost and quality. Although it would be ideal to have 6 compressed versions of video readily available for downstreaming, this gets expensive. While the price of cloud storage is most certainly a big part of that equation, in this case, encoding and decoding each video carries an even weightier cost. To further complicate the situation, some videos created and stored in a user’s library will be accessed and viewed relatively regularly. Others might be viewed infrequently, if at all. So it seemed to us that it might be an unnecessary cost to segment process 6 versions of every original video file, at least until we had a better idea of the usage rates of the videos. However, at the same time, it’s utterly important that right off the bat there are enough versions to create a good experience for the user- whichever video they choose.

Available solutions…

We looked around for third-party encoding providers and quickly tested most of them. We decided against using a third party for two reasons.  Firstly, it seemed that we could do better cost wise. Secondly, we didn’t want to rely on a system and infrastructure over which we had no immediate access to or control. We wanted to improve on the inherent latencies and we had no real, hands on ability to do so. There are maybe only a handful of companies out there right now doing what we’re trying to do. That is, enable a user to carry and stream all their videos from any of their devices quickly and efficiently. We couldn’t find quite the right fit. As a result, we preferred to continue seeking another solution. We elected to explore open source software, to see if a solution might emerge.

Open source….

We decided to try our hand at using FFmpeg. This is an open source software for multimedia data (which is also used by some third party companies), that provides real-time transcoding, enabling video downstreaming. This allowed us to encode the multiple versions ourselves and have control over lag time and cost.

The result was our decision to encode every video as it goes into the cloud. It definitely costs more to do it this way. As we mentioned, it’s the processing of each video that carries the real cost. But this method provides a faster viewing experience than encoding on the fly. Users can skip ahead or backward very quickly and downloading starts within seconds. Our top priority is a good user experience. We want people to be able to fast-forward, jump and skip through their videos. We want it to start as fast as possible when they press ‘play.’ And if you want that, you have to transcode the video in full before the user presses the play button.

Our solution….

From these smaller, compressed versions, we create a ‘playlist’ with multiple streams for each video. Following HLS protocol, when a user requests a video to play from their device, we start by streaming the lowest quality version first, so the video can start instantly. But in the background, the high quality versions buffer, moving up the playlist, switching to an optimal version depending on the Internet speed being used and the screen resolution of the device in use. As connectivity improves, so does the quality.

Streams for most common use cases:

  1. Low bandwidth (approx. 68kbit/s)
  2. 3G, Edge (320×240, approx. 320kbit/s)
  3. Slow Wifi/4G (640×480, approx. 750kbit/s)
  4. Fast Wifi/LTE (1280×720, approx. 1800kbit/s)

If this sounds familiar, you’re right. Services like Netflix use the same approach. And the end result is similar to a simple, personal and private version of Netflix -optimized for the best possible mobile user experience.

Why this was our best option…

It wasn’t easy, but once we realized this was the best solution, we knew we owed it to our users to deliver. It’s harder work, but more cost effective overall, and the end result is a better user experience. It’s also better for quality control. We do not rely on a third-party server to deliver for us. And most importantly, this method doesn’t require any work on the part of the user. They get fast, reliable streaming of their videos in the palm of their hands, without any hassles. Under normal to good conditions, streaming on Loom starts in under 2 seconds and scrubbing works instantly for a video of any length.

What the future holds….

In the future, we can explore ways to increase video streaming quality or become even more cost efficient. Perhaps intelligently limiting the encoding of particular videos. For example, encoding the first half of videos, and then beginning to encode the second half when users hit play. Or analyzing user patterns to predict which videos to encode; based on things like length, type, creation date, scenes or recent user behavior. Of course there is always the possibility of reducing cost by switching server providers, or renting storage space in larger volume.

But the point is we can explore ways to become better as we go. What continues to be our most important goal is providing an excellent user experience immediately, and maintaining that excellence moving forward. We’re excited for the future and hope to only continue improving – always putting our users first. Thanks for reading!

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Update: Video Support!

We are delighted to announce Loom video support. Now you can play any video directly from your camera roll or Loom library on your iOS devices, instantly! All videos uploaded from your iPad, iPhone, Mac, or external hard drive, are supported. Following our model for photos, instant downstreaming is possible using multiple smaller versions of the videos to match connectivity strength. This allows us to provide the fastest private video streaming in the App Store!

Why we’re so excited:  

We built you the fastest video streaming technology available for private libraries.

We’ve done the legwork and put in the extra time to craft the most seamless experience possible with existing technology. The team here at Loom has worked long and hard to solve some tough challenges to get here. It has been quite a journey and we hope you enjoy this update as much as we enjoy releasing it.

How we do it: 

As always, we store your original videos, untouched. Applying the same process we use for photos, we then transcribe three smaller copied versions of each video to create a customized “playlist” for each one. When you hit play, we instantly choose the best version for the job – based on Internet or cell connectivity and device capability. If conditions start out less than ideal, we send in the first version that is tailored to get through. Then we instantly step up the quality when your connectivity improves. Seem familiar? It might be because you experience a similar type of streaming on Netflix. Except, you’re viewing your personal videos; streaming from your Loom library, on demand. Now you can enjoy them and all the space on your iPhone or iPad they left behind. Speaking of space….

Added extras:

Now you can get free space by selecting and inviting friends to Loom directly within the app. Tap on Get Free Space in your Loom settings to post the invite link to your Facebook, Twitter, or send via email.

For every invited person who downloads and signs in to Loom on their iPhone or iPad, both parties receive 500MB of additional space. Earn up to 5GB of extra space. When added to your free account, you can get a total of up to 10GB of free storage.

Download Loom for iPhone or iPad!

That’s it for now! Check our blog for future tips, tricks, and details. As always, we appreciate your feedback and input, and if you’re enjoying Loom, please consider leaving a review in the App Store!

New to Loom? Loom keeps all your photos and videos at your fingertips while saving you space. More space to play. www.loom.com

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As the year draws to a close, we’re still hard at work here at Loom. We have another update for you! We have made some significant changes to the Mac app in direct response to the feedback we received. Enjoy!

Newly Added: Photobooth Import

We now support uploading from Photobooth. As with all sources, it may appear as a default library. Otherwise, you can add it manually. Just click “Add Source” in your Loom Uploader, find and select your Photobooth library, and Loom will automatically upload all those photos and videos into your secure Loom library.

New Loom Uploader Design

We heard our users express confusion when it came to sources vs. albums and adding vs. removing sources. In response, we have simplified the Uploader user interface. The source manager and the albums list are now together into one, easy to use window. Additionally, you can add any of your libraries as a source – whether it is stored in a file or folder.

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And here are some explanations that might come in handy next time you hit a bump in the road, which should happen a lot less frequently from now on.

Adding a Source

How To: Open your Loom Uploader. Some frequently used libraries are detected automatically and can be activated immediately by checking the circle next to the title. If you don’t see the one you want, click “Add Source” and a finder window will pop up to allow you to navigate manually to the source you want to add.

What Happens: This source will now appear in your sources list, it will be automatically activated, AND a corresponding album will appear in your albums list to receive these new photos and videos.

Activating/Deactivating a Source

How To: Click on the circle next to each source name to activate/deactivate the status of that source. An orange check mark will appear when it is active. A blank circle will be present when a source is not activated.

What Happens: When a source is active, Loom will continue monitoring the source for new items and automatically pull them into the corresponding album on Loom. If it is de-activated, Loom will stop any active uploading and will no longer monitor for new items.

Removing a Source

How To: Click on the title of the source you wish to remove. It will be highlighted in blue. Then click “Remove Source”.

What Happens: The source will be removed from your sources list, all uploads will cease, and Loom will not monitor the source anymore. However, any uploaded items and the album associated with this source will remain untouched.

Re-adding a Source

How To: Go into your Loom Uploader and click “Add Source”. Find the one you want to add and click on it. That’s it!

What Happens: Loom will treat this like the first time.  It will add and activate the source and begin uploading immediately to a new album titled accordingly. If you are re-adding your iPhoto library for example, you might see “iPhoto” and then “iPhoto (2)”. Loom adds a numerical distinction for duplicate names. If you have changed the title of the previous album to “Jon’s iPhoto” then you will see that album and then a separate album titled “iPhoto”.  You have some choices now. You can either combine the items and delete an album, or you can leave it be and have two. (You could re-add a source once a year and title them accordingly, for example.) However, please note that if you do merge them and delete one, you need to make sure to merge into the new album, because that is the one that is active.

Deleting an Album on Loom

How To: If you create or upload an album you no longer want to store, you can delete it at any time. In the iOS app – tap the album title, then tap “Delete Album”. On the web- go into the album, click “Edit” and then “Delete Album”.

What Happens: This album and everything inside of it is deleted from your Loom account. If the album is associated with a source, that source will be deactivated.

A Note About Sources

It is important to keep in mind that Loom does not 2-way sync with your sources. But as always, Loom will monitor for any new additions to your sources and upload them automatically whenever you open Loom. If you haven’t changed your preferences, Loom will automatically check for updates and inform you when there’s a new one available, so no need to worry about it!

That’s it for now! Check our blog for future tips, tricks, and details. As always, we appreciate your feedback and input, and if you’re enjoying Loom, please consider leaving a review in the App Store!

New to Loom? Loom is your entire photo and video library, unified in one place, accessible from any device. View your photos, create albums, and manage your library from anywhere you are. Download Loom.

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We’re excited to announce that Loom users can now get up to 5GB of free space, on top of the 5GB that Loom already offers for free!  That’s a total of 10GB of storage, for free!

Click here to visit the the ‘Get Free Space’ referral page at loom.com. From there, you can invite friends, family, and coworkers via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

For every person you invite who downloads the Loom mobile app and creates an account, you’ll get an extra 500MB of space, just for sharing. Invite 10 friends and you’ll get 5GB, just like that!

Please keep in mind that for the referral to work by email, the user must create their Loom account using the same email address that you sent the Get Free Space invite to.

And that’s it! Get free space, just for sharing!