Today, we have more digital files than ever before — our photo libraries are ever expanding, our access to videos and films increasing and our digital documents multiplying — and more devices on which they are all spread across. Keeping a track of which devices have access to which files, and managing the storage on each of those pieces of kit, is a chore that adds stress to our daily lives.
younity is an app that wants to make it easy for you to seamlessly access all of your content across all of your devices by turning your Mac or PC into a home media server of sorts.
To get started with younity, you’ll need to install the app on the desktop — it’s easy enough to download the installer from the younity site and get set up with a younity account (you’ll need one in order to benefit from the app’s features) with your email, Facebook or Google+ credentials.
After creating your account, younity will scan your Mac or PC for your digital media — photos, videos, music, and documents. How long it takes to find all your content will depend on how many files are on your machine. In my case, with many thousands of photos and music files, it took around 15 minutes.
Once the scan is complete, hop onto your iPhone or iPad (Android version said to be coming soon) to install the younity app and gain access to your computer’s data. Simply, log in the same way you did on the younity desktop app and wait for the transfer of metadata from your computer (this takes a couple of minutes in my experience). When finished, you’ll be able to access all of your computer’s data on your mobile device as if by magic.
What’s neat about how younity works is that, although you have almost immediate access to your Mac or PC’s media, the files are not stored locally on your iPhone or iPad meaning they do not take up a bunch of storage space — the files are essentially streamed on demand to your device. The drawback of this way of functioning is that your Mac or PC has to be switched on and connected to the internet in order for the app to function (sleeping machines are ok, as long as there’s a network connection). There can be some lag at times in accessing your files — particularly evident with videos — but this will depend mainly on your connection and the size of the files you are accessing.
If you think of younity as a personal cloud storage solution, you essentially get unlimited free storage for all of your desktop files that can be made easily accessible on your mobile devices without having to pay for a monthly allowance. The benefit of it being a personal solution is that your files are not uploaded to younity’s servers — younity essentially knows nothing about you or your data — so privacy is assured.
You can set up younity on as many PCs and Macs as you wish, but files from each computer are not viewable across desktop machines, sadly. This is something younity plans to change in the future, which will be a nice addition. However, for now, your mobile device can view files from all of your desktop machines.
younity plays nicely with iTunes, the Mac Photos app, Lightroom, GoPro files, among other systems and services which means there are very few hurdles to overcome in order to have your media available everywhere. It’s also easy to share large files for other younity users to view and you can revoke access to that media just as easily.
On iOS, younity integrates the Share Sheet meaning photos from your Mac can be sent to Instagram or Facebook through the younity iOS app or videos stored on your Windows PC can be AirPlayed to your Apple TV in a few taps. It’s really convenient and efficient.
The younity apps themselves are well put together and straightforward to use. The design is fairly uninspiring and utilitarian for the most part, but clear menus and iconography make it easy to navigate and focus on the media you want to get to.
younity is an excellent solution for this that wish to have access to their desktop files across their mobile devices with minimal configuration. Even for those rare times where you really wish you could get to a particular document on your Mac from your phone or wish you could watch a particular film stored on your PC while at a friend’s place, younity is worth setting up. Once the app lands on Android too, it will be able to provide comprehensive access to all your media and documents wherever you are and further reduce the amount of time and effort you have to put into file management.