PARIS -- After a year doing its Apple-centric groundwork, start-up Everpix is ready to find a wider audience for its photo sync and organization service.
Today, the company announced version 1.0 of its Windows software, an out-of-the-way utility that slurps photos from people's hard drives and uploads them to company's servers. There, Everpix analyzes each photo mathematically for a variety of characteristics then synchronize the files with iPhones, iPads, and the Everpix Web site.
Everpix, though, isn't really about syncing files like Dropbox or Google Drive. It's also not about online photo communities such as Yahoo's Flickr, and it's not about social networking with a visual twist like Instagram. Chief Executive Pierre-Olivier Latour is careful to deflect suggestions that he's taking on incumbents.
Instead, the service aims to make people's photo collections manageable for themselves, said Latour in an interview here. Everpix, which costs $5 per month or $40 per year, dovetails with other services and software but doesn't seek to replace them.
"Don't worry about taking more photos. Don't worry about organizing," Latour said. "We want to give people more freedom" by plucking choice moments from their photo catalogs -- which, on average, consist of more than 10,000 digital photos.
A few dedicated souls have the patience to sort through their photos, picking the good ones, deleting the duds, and labeling the keepers with titles, names, and other data. The rest of the world's population puts the photos into a giant virtual shoebox -- or different shoeboxes for Facebook, Apple iPhoto, Adobe Lightroom, mobile phone photo galleries, and assorted hard drive folders -- where they gather virtual dust.
Everpix is trying to make those photos accessible and useful. Its analysis boils down each photo into a collection of numeric attributes the company calls an intermediate representation. Comparing all these representations lets the company sift through photo catalogs for similar shots that, along with information such as when photos were shot or how people grouped them if they already did some organizing, lets Everpix distill a catalog into a collection of "moments."
When people view their collections with the Everpix iOS app or the Web site, they get a panning view that shows these moments arrayed for a full year. Everpix shows larger thumbnails for subjects it thinks have particular interest -- photos of people, for example.
The new Windows utility only can handle photos from file system folders to start with, but the company plans to add Lightroom integration and the ability to fetch photos from SD cards in the future, Latour said. The Mac version already has those features, along with the ability to draw photos from Aperture and iPhoto. The service also can retrieve Flickr and Facebook photos, he added, using those companies' online programming interfaces.
Everpix also has also a discovery feature that's in beta testing. It picks a collection of six similar photos from across your entire collection. The unifying theme could be something like a large body of water, or a group of people sharing a meal. Clicking on one reveals another set of six photos similar to that one. It's meant to be a somewhat structured but also somewhat serendipitous way to explore a photo collection.
Also today, Everpix said it's moved to an improved system of understanding and therefore categorizing photos by finding common attributes such as cars, cities, people, and pets.
Two other developments. Everpix announced that it's merged its iPhone and iPad apps into a single universal version. It's also optimized its Web site so it can be used with Android mobile devices.
The company plans to release an Android app, but it's not easy to hire programmers who have the necessary experience with tasks like fluidly displaying a long wall of photo thumbnails, Latour said.
The company has a long way to go. Latour founded it along with Chief Technology Officer Kevin Quennesson and design leader Wayne Fan, and the company only has six employees so far. Latour has a long history working with photos. He worked at Apple after it acquired his motion-graphics technology, PixelShox, in 2003 and renamed it Quartz Composer. He also worked on some HTML support in iOS, and after leaving Apple in 2009 worked for a time at Cooliris. Everpix was founded in September 2011.
The company has raised $1.8 million so far, and now that it's got the basics in place, Latour plans to seek a first round of venture capital in the first quarter.
Index Ventures is a lead investor so far; other investors included Michael Herf, who co-founded the Picasa photo software and Web site that Google acquired; 500Startups, and after leading OS X development and who now is at a startup called Upthere., who invests in early-stage companies through