Features, Delivery, and General Status Update
Here are some highlights of things we've finished since the last software update, and things we're expecting to be done soon:
Direct import from desktop
Some of you have noticed that using the desktop clients to dump a large amount of data all at once can temporarily eat local disk space, which then triggers a condition where uploads slow down. This happens because we use a local cache to stage files before they are pushed to the device. In regular usage where a few files are added at a time, this scheme significantly improves performance. In the case where more files are being added than can fit in the local cache, however, this doesn't help; it uses more disk space than necessary, and slows things down.
We've taken the first step to address this problem -- and to make it easier to get things into Space Monkey without having to drag-n-drop them -- by adding a right-click item for folders and files. No matter where files reside on your filesystem, you can right-click on them and "Import to Space Monkey" (see screenshots below). Using this feature skips the local cache, which means syncing to the device can occur faster and your local free disk space is preserved. However, since syncing to the device happens without the cache via this method, it does usually result in a copy dialog. This feature is available in the latest Windows and OSX clients today.
This is a first step. We have more work to do. In the future, we are exploring ways to automatically determine if files should go into the local cache first or straight to the device based on some internal heuristics, without users needing to remember two different methods for getting them into Space Monkey. Both methods (dragging and right-click) are here to stay -- how they work under the hood will continue to evolve.
Which brings us to performance. We are currently clocking speeds of up to 10mbps from clients to device when on the same local network. Most traditional cloud services range in speeds from 250kbps to 1+mbps, so we are 10x to 40x faster than these services today.
However, we're not done. There are usage scenarios that cause our performance to drop significantly from the maximums we know the system is capable of, and there is more performance to be squeezed from our architecture and implementation. This is a major focus of effort internally for us right now, and we expect it to be for some time.
If you are experiencing slow upload from desktop to device, please be patient as we work to improve that. We're interested to hear from you when you experience parts of the system that cause pain -- and joy.
Clients for both iOS and Android are available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Links to download are available from your accounts page. iOS devices join OSX and Windows desktop clients in being able to do the initial device setup when you first plug in. This functionality will be added to Android soon.
For those that used the product in its earliest alpha stages, you'll note some major recent improvements in thumbnailing, across all clients. This required some work both on the storage backend and the client software on various platforms. Clients are now able to read and generate thumbnails much faster than they could before on all clients, and thumbnail capability was recently added to the web client.
As with performance, this is an ongoing effort. Look for many more improvements in the coming months, including improvements to the visual display of thumbnails and better ways to access and share your photos and videos online.
Access your files when your device is offline
One of the core promises of Space Monkey Technology is that your data is not only safe even if your own device fails, but still accessible. This feature, which we refer to as "network reads," currently works in the web app and mobile clients. Note that network reads only work for data which has synced out to the network. You can see how much of your data has made it to the network by looking at the lower right corner of the display in the web app (it's normal to almost always have some data waiting to go out, since any updates to files result in more changes being queued). If your device goes offline, the web app will let you know that it is switching to network reads and then give you access to all the files that have been fully synced.
Network reads are currently available via the Web, iOS, and Android. They will soon be available on the desktop as well.
In the future, clients may switch automatically to network reads without ceremony; we have already noticed that streaming large amounts of data can be much faster from the network than from a single home device, and there are other situations where this may be a better experience, too.
Work progresses on making it possible to associate more than one distinct account per device. This will allow those of you who have family members in your household that you'd like to share space with to do so without granting access to all the same files.
We've been using shared folders for collaboration internally for a number of months now, and are still working out a few kinks prior to making them available more widely.
Work has also begun on free accounts, so that you can invite others into collaborative folders without them needing their own Space Monkey device.
Upgrade to Own
We're very happy with the reaction we've had to the upgrade offer that has been made to the $99-$129 reward tiers. Similar offers will be going out to tiers > $129 soon. Please remember, upgrading to own is 100% optional, 100% your choice. We also appreciate the feedback we've received on these offers that have helped us to improve them. More to come.
We've received final reports on CE testing and believe devices in the next manufacturing batch will be ready to ship to International backers. We had intended the first run of units to include shipments outside of the US, and had even included EU-style power supplies in hundreds of units. We've been busy manually unpacking these so that they can be sold domestically while we wait for the next run of devices to be completed for delivery to International backers.
The hold up on CE compliance came down to a grounding issue on screws inside the device. This had no impact on performance or safety, and did not adversely affect compliance inside the United States. All future runs of devices include a fix for this, the first of which we expect to happen in January or February. That run of units will include devices for International backers.
We know it may be little consolation, but Kickstarter is -- to date -- the only opportunity International customers have had to get their hands on Space Monkey. It pains us that we are fulfilling your units later than U.S. backers, but we hope you find some consolation in the fact that you will be the first outside of the U.S. to receive Space Monkey. We field inquiries almost every day from potential customers outside the U.S. who want to know when they can buy a Space Monkey, and they consider you lucky to have gotten in at a time when they cannot.
Waves A-E completed
We've ordered all of Waves D and E to ship, and almost all of these are either now delivered or in transit. This completes domestic orders, minus 2TB backers. 2TB units have been manufactured and are on a ship being transported to our warehouse.
We're very excited to watch the network grow as you receive your units and bring them online. We passed 1 petabyte of total storage in the network some time ago, and are excited to watch this quickly hit 10PB over the next few months. There are a lot of things we want to do with the software to make your Space Monkey experience more awesome, and are excited about what the next months and years hold. Thank you for helping us bring this to life!