Ex-Apple VP Bertrand Serlet unveils ‘Upthere,’ a new cloud storage service that looks to make file syncing a thing of the past

“The drawbacks of syncing were not lost on Bertrand Serlet, the former senior vice president of software engineering for Apple,” Casey Newton reports for The Verge. “Serlet spent eight years at Steve Jobs’ NeXT and 14 more at Apple following its acquisition, and in those years Apple made a cautious, then enthusiastic embrace of cloud computing. And while iCloud improved vastly on the failures of MobileMe, Serlet thinks he can do it one better. Upthere, a company he founded in 2011 to do just that, is emerging from stealth today with a big idea: syncing is dead, and in the future we’ll save all our files directly to the cloud.”

“The company says it has built a new way of saving, storing, and organizing files, and done it in a way that takes advantage of the cloud,” Newton reports. “It pays special attention to metadata, enabling faster searches. ‘There was no one who did what we envisioned,’ Serlet said in an interview with The Verge. ‘So we started from scratch.'”

“Today you can sign up on a waitlist to try Upthere’s first two products, which are now in beta on iOS, Android, and Mac,” Newton reports. “First is Upthere Camera, which saves your photos directly to the cloud… The second product is Upthere Home, which organizes all the documents you have stored with the service so you can browse them. On one tab you can view your photos; on another you can listen to the MP3s you have stored; on another you can view (but not edit) work documents like Word files and PDFs. Here the appeal is a little clearer than with the camera: you can stream your entire cloud library to any device, without having to download or sync any of those files to a new device.”

More info in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Good luck, Mr. Serlet. We’ll give the beta a try.


  1. While I’m intrigued by this idea, the cost of cellular data and the generally slow upload speeds of home broadband connections will make it difficult to realize effectively. We shall see….

      1. I’ve never understood the DIRE limitations put on upload bandwidth. At the moment at home, I have an ISP stated download speed of 50 Mbps with an upload speed of 5 Mbps, and that’s excellent compared to average speeds where I live. Stupid Verizon FIOS around here can’t beat that. Why?

    1. But, but, the cloud is so trendy. So that must be the way to go… right?

      Actually, this takes no account at all of
      – the vast number of people who have very poor connectivity
      – the vast number whose connectivity is decent for everyday purposes… but not for having a remote terabyte hard drive.

      No thanks. I’ll look after my own data and my own triply-redundant backup protocols.

    2. Sure, dependence. But every business that has a website is dependent on “the cloud”. There’s no such thing as a “live website” stored locally. So the idea of using solely the cloud for access and delivery is already proven. Now it seems that UpThere wants to take photos and files to the cloud in a new way. Transformation and soon (being relative) you’ll look back at local storage as an archaic way of doing things.

      1. It is a nice idea but the time is not ready. I was on a vacation this summer where there was no cellular and no internet. It was not in the wild Northern Canadian wilderness but in Ohio. Until there is high speed, everywhere, all the time internet connections, I could not store all my files in the cloud. This is also not even taking into account fiber line failures, routers, concentrators, and all the other things that can cause me to lose the connection to my files when I need them. The final straw is the Dot Com issue where the government seized the data of a cloud storage provider and has to this day not allowed access to the files on it. You can go ahead and send your files away but for me I think Local will be my main storage and the cloud a very nice backup solution that I love.

  2. Well, a few questions first.

    -Is encryption used and are the keys maintained? What about government back doors or sharing with said entities.
    -Is the data compressed and restored to original state.
    -What happens with all the meta data gathered? Is it sold? Can it be selected for privacy?
    -Will programs be removed, even when purchased, if licensing problem or patent infringement is allegedly occurred by outside parties?
    -What happens to the history of deleted information that can or will be proprietary to that individual? Can it be reviewed by government entities or other.

    And the list continues… Syncing is bad enough. But total online storage is scary if you are blocked from your data or it contexts redirected by intent or accident. Not sure syncing is dead.

    1. They started from scratch, so they likely have considered all of these. First, encryption will be a given. It would be insane for a brand new company to accept files and have them stored in a readable format on their servers. I doubt that they will sell the metadata, although I do see that Google is an investor.

      The only part about this that I don’t like is that you stop paying, you stop having access. That does not work for me. A local copy would always be needed.

      I guess we’ll have our answers soon enough.

  3. What upthere doesn’t seem to do is to organize data BY PROJECT (and not by app who created it)
    Currently iOS prevents us from doing that.
    There may be other ways, though, than a proper file system, such as “smart” folders, in other words, ASSOCIATIVE search and grouping.

    1. I have a Box account as well. I like it fine. But there is no client-side encryption, which kills the deal for me storing anything critical/personal at their service. I only put my research and general stuff up there. The same goes with DropBox.

      My workaround, which can apply to either Box or DropBox, is to use my own encrypted Sparse Bundle disk image. No one is getting into that thing. Sparse Bundle is also nice because it is distributed into a bunch of different files, not just one. Therefore, only the encrypted files that have changed have to be uploaded to the service.

      Also: Box has improved over time. But I seriously HATE the Windows naming convention they impose. Their service runs on Windows boxes, which makes their service seem like its from the dark ages. I want to write my Mac allowed names and not have to worry about Box complaining at me.

  4. Problem:

    1) So far I’m not seeing anything about ENCRYPTION using this service. Add to that the requirement for user-side encryption, meaning no sneaky surveillance or robbery crap going on at the server side.

    2) Cloud services:
    – (a) Go down
    – (b) Go under
    – (c) Lose track of users &/or encryption keys.
    [I got royally nailed by the clowns at Backblaze because they lost track of my encryption key, making my backups to their servers dead and inaccessible. Their attitude about their blunder was entirely flippant. The money I spent on their service was a total waste.]
    – (d) Where’s your BACK UP? Relying on one source for your data is certain death. The Backup Rule requires one local backup and one remote backup. This system FAILs in that respect. OOPS!

    IOW: So far, no thanks!

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