Compatibility, ease of use, and versatility were the focus points for RealNetworks’ new cloud-based service dubbed “the Dropbox for videos,” released in the U.S. and Canada last September and globally yesterday. With this worldwide unveiling, RealPlayer both swiftly expands its capabilities and absorbs itself into a new entity, existing now under the moniker “RealPlayer Cloud.”
SurePlay is at the heart of the expanded service. Essentially, it’s a cloud technology developed by RealNetworks that seamlessly auto-formats videos to fit the device type, size of screen, available bandwidth, and storage space of any device — no more frantic Googling in search of a free program that converts MP4 to AVI, and no more wondering if your iPad or Android tablet can play an MKV file. In fact, this could be a really cool option for folks who don’t have the time or technical chops to set up a media server at home. Potentially, one could use a Chromecast to access RealPlayer Cloud, where all their movies, TV shows and other videos are stored and play them back on-demand, in the best possible quality – though, admitedly, storage of high-quality video files costs could get pricey in a hurry. Currently, no information on the type of audio streams appears to be available. Digital Trends is reaching out to Real Networks for clarification on this point and we’ll update the article accordingly.
Upon its initial release last fall, RealPlayer Cloud’s other features included:
- Video sharing across all devices
- Local video streaming and downloading for on-the-go access
- TV compatibility
- Sharing long videos, directly from phones, PCs and tablets, with any other device — app or not
- Basic, secure storage of videos in the cloud
A month after the initial U.S. and Canada release, Google announced (via its released list of 10 new Chromecast-compatible apps) a convenient partnership between Chromecast and RealPlayer Cloud, a move that helped further familiarize consumers with the new service that, at the time, had only a few hundred thousand users.
With the global rollout, RealPlayer Cloud looks even more like a Dropbox for videos — you can now earn 1GB of free storage space for each friend who creates an account via your referral (Dropbox has offered a similar special since its very early days). Also newly available with the worldwide unveiling are SMS text capabilities: iOS and Android app users can now easily send videos (that have been automatically reformatted for all devices in the cloud) via SMS text messages and email.
Every user gets a free initial 2GB of storage, and can purchase additional space through subscription plans starting at about $5 per month. Find out more at the official site, or watch this video that goes into further detail.