As far as web projects and innovations go, Jolicloud is a project that has been close to my heart ever since its conception in 2010, which was solely as a cloud-based operating system aimed at netbooks,
Originally the main premise of Jolicloud (the moniker of the project at the time) was to breathe life into dying netbooks and desktops that had become inundated with corrupted registries, rogue applications, and perhaps most importantly, to minimize the issues that problems between the chair and the screen could cause for themselves by using a computer. Jolicloud was designed to be easy to use, to be no more than a means for media consumption online – its interface was built primarily in HTML5 and being Linux based (originally on Ubuntu Netbook Remix) was also very fast in terms of boot speed and interface navigation which makes it an ideal candidate for those who did want to convert a dying machine into a way to simply browse the web and its associated technologies.
However after time, the creators faced criticism based mainly around bugs arising in the system – failure to launch applications for example, as well as the fact that the system struggled to amount to much more than a curiosity for the technically minded; the “applications” were often just web frames in which websites were displayed and tabbed along the top of the screen when not in use. So, not dissimilar to a normal web browser.
Since then, the project has received numerous updates and is now referred to still as Jolicloud, although it has been split into “Joli OS” for the local-based OS installation, and “Jolidrive”, which refers to the concept of what could be referred to as essentially a “cloud service aggregator”. I’ll be looking mostly at the theory and practice of “Jolidrive” as an emerging web innovation.
The main basis of Jolidrive is that your content is all in one online environment that can be accessed across platforms, with no external plugins or programs required – since it’s coded in HTML5 which is rapidly becoming a web technology that is available in the web browsers used on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Various web services can be linked to ones Jolidrive account, including but not limited to – Dropbox, Skydrive, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Evernote, and Feedly. Jolidrive is unequivocally making an attempt to tackle some of the fundamental “hardships” if you could term them in such a way, of an increasingly digital and furthermore, online cloud-based computing life.
The interface of Jolidrive is brilliantly composed and unified with just two main tabs to encompass the whole system – a desktop composed of web “applications”, and a tab made up of services linked and integrated into your account. The desktop is fully responsive and produced in a beautiful iOS-esque fashion which works smoothly on many platforms; desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones all accept it with welcoming arms in either orientation.
The web applications are not customised by Jolidrive in most cases (bearing in mind I am looking at the web-based version) and simply open the linked website in a new tab. While this might sound like the needless over-complication of a simple task, it could be considered an innovative system for facilitating the increasing convergence of technology – especially web platforms. An example of this might obviously be Google+ and its sudden wrath over Youtube, or Facebook’s purchase of Instagram. Which leads quite succinctly to the next and arguably the main feature of Jolidrive – the unification of web services.
As I’m sure many of us have experienced first-hand, while the plethora of different services available online, for free as well in most cases means users have a LOT of choice – which could result in trialling many different services before settling on one, if ever. Additionally the way in which the current three main platforms (Windows/Microsoft, Mac/iOS, and Android/Chrome) have developed their own private ecosystems means switching from one to another might leave a user with quite the fragmented spread of data online. Using myself as an example, switching from Android to Windows Phone, adding a Surface RT to my collection but owning a PS3 and not an Xbox means I have data spread over Facebook, Google maps, Google mail, Windows mail, Youtube, Nokia maps, Dropbox, and Skydrive to say the least. Jolidrive definitely has made a bold step in tackling this issue for users, allowing them to add and thus unify these different services into a feed where each service is fully accessible in a unified, single page within the Jolidrive application. This might be comparable to, for example, having each service open in separate tabs or at least bookmarked in a web browser with all relevant usernames and passwords set to auto-insert/complete in the web browser. However, it could be argued this is an overcomplicated method of access to different services, and not to mention the inconsistency in design between each one – varying buttons and cues for users, in different locations, displayed in different colour schemes for example. Jolidrive does an excellent job of unifying the interfaces between, for example, Skydrive and Dropbox and making each one easily accessible without the need for a login box anywhere in sight.
With similar advances being seen in systems such as Windows 8 to name one familiar to me, could data unification in the cloud be the way to facilitate consumption of multiple media platforms for the end user?