We’re Loom, and 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, sitting in obscure folders where they may never be seen or heard from again, collecting dust on our phones, our computers, our other computers, our tablets, and our external hard drives.
Let’s face it – videos and photographs aren’t like other documents. They’re bigger. We usually don’t put words to them. We can’t do a quick search and bring up a photo we’re looking for. Despite our best efforts to keep them organized, they end up everywhere, in disarray, taking up space.
We’ve given a lot of thought to what the ideal solution should look like. We’ve listened to feedback from hundreds of beta users. After almost a year of thinking, building, and testing, these are the concerns that we’ve come to focus on…
Complete privacy and control for users
We set out with the idea that any potential solution should be private. The overwhelming response from our beta users has been the same. We don’t like feeling like all of our photos are always on the verge of being shared, even by accident. So we decided early on that Loom should be like a private vault for your photos and videos. Fully transparent and accessible by you alone. We hate complicated privacy agreements that could change at a moments notice without our approval, exposing our photos to the world. So with Loom, you don’t ever have to share. But if you decide to share something, you can – email, message, or send a link, from any device.
And we believe that, especially when it comes to important data like photos and videos, privacy and control should go hand in hand. A user should always be able to easily understand what’s happening – know what data they’re sharing, what changes they’re making to their files, and what is synced up where, without worrying about accidentally changing anything important.
Anybody who has ever tried to use a social media site as a “storage space” for their photos will understand how frustrating it can be to navigate all the different privacy settings for each separate photo or album, trying to remember who has permission to access what. We think it’s simple – your photos are yours, and always should be.
Simple, elegant, and reliable user experience
We also believe that a flawless and responsive user experience is essential. This is especially important on mobile, where people regularly interact with photos and videos. We thought that an ideal service would feel like the native photo app, feel just as familiar and enable the user to accomplish the same things. It could go one step further, by syncing content and edits to the cloud without taking up local storage space. It could present your content in an attractive way. It would be simple, fast, and work offline. Users should never feel inhibited by how they can access, view, edit and manage their photos and videos.
We imagined an infinite camera roll for all your devices, where there’s always more space to add, and a consistent and intuitive organization and display across all platforms. Flicking through your photos on your phone becomes like flipping through an old, treasured photo album.
You can create albums from any of your devices that seamlessly appear on all your other devices. But you don’t have to create albums, either – all your photos are already automatically organized by date, presented like your own personal magazine.
Adding efficiency and speed behind the scenes – transcription and caching
We spoke with a lot of professional photographers who work with increasingly large file sizes. They told us that such high-resolution photos aren’t always necessary. An ideal solution, they explained, would be something that could keep those large photos and videos in one remote location without draining storage space, but that could allow them to be accessed on demand for editing and printing.
We thought automatic transcription would be an elegant solution. Transcribing multiple versions of each photo as it’s uploaded, each optimized for a different device with a different screen size and resolution, and saving them in the cloud alongside the originals. That way Loom could easily and quickly serve up the optimized file size based on the viewing device, making loading times faster and saving local storage space. We thought that if we could extend this concept to videos, too – creating multiple versions and saving them alongside the originals – we could cut loading times down even more drastically than with photos.
And then we realized this solution could be useful even beyond the world of professional photography. Casually browsing images from your phone doesn’t require the massive file sizes that can be captured by photographs shot with a DSLR. But even the iPhone 5 camera is capable of capturing photos with 11 times the resolution that can be displayed on the iPhone screen itself. So saving the original file size to Loom, and automatically accessing the optimum version for your device, makes all the sense in the world. By transcribing this way and caching the optimized versions, we found that we were able to cache about 200 times as many photos. And if you ever need them, the original versions are always right there, ready for viewing.
Beyond transcription, it occurred to us that Loom should have the ability to intelligently predict which photos to load and cache in advance, making the user experience even faster and more reliable. This predictive caching could be based on things like user patterns (which albums a user accesses most frequently), deliberate user actions (recently created albums, uploaded images, etc.) or simple assumptions based on things like the age of a photo (a photo taken very recently is more likely to be viewed in the near future). Loom could keep your most important photos and videos cached and ready to view, all behind the scenes, without demanding any work from the user. This means overall faster loading times, a better user experience, and less chance of things like bad reception interfering with viewing your library.
Again, we thought all of this should happen naturally, without the user ever knowing, creating an ideal combination of comfort, ease of use, and efficiency.
We’re almost there…
These are the thoughts and concerns that we have been working through for the past year, and we’re almost there. We conceived Loom to be more than just another place to dump your photos and never think about them again. Private and secure with complete user control, simple and elegant in its user experience, and intelligent about the variety of devices and file sizes we use today – this is how we paint the future of photo and video management, and we’re excited to be building it for you.