I’ve been playing with the beta of a new Mac app called Found. I first found out about it on Twitter a few weeks ago and placed my name on the waiting list as soon as I could. Now that I have it on my Macs, I can say it wasn’t soon enough. Let me explain.
First, Found is in beta and not all the features are working yet, but the feedback I received from my first bug report impressed me and told me that this was an application that had a solid team behind it.
In case you have not heard about the application, let me do a quick explanation of what it does. It lives in the background of your desktop and with a double control key tap it pops out from the left side of your screen. You can set up your Google Docs and your Gmail accounts to be searches along with your Mac and your Dropbox folder. As of this beta, the Mac search is only setup for the main folders, or primary folders such as applications, documents, photos, music, movies, desktop and downloads. The edit button is already in place and ready for you to add more folders for searching in the later beta stages. In other words, you get search results from all four places at one time, broken down into categories so you know where the results are coming from and you can launch any of the results rights from the application and you can preview the results in a preview window if you desire.
The Found Web site has a great set of screen grabs to get your mouth watering for the application right now, but you’ll have to sign up and wait for the invitation to arrive.
Found’s CEO, Stephen Brady told me, “As for our plans for Found going forward, we plan on doing a public release sometime next month. We are currently working on incorporating Evernote as the next service. Looking further out, we will be working on two fronts:
1. More services which will come out in groups as they make sense, such as messages, events, contacts, photos/images, etc.
2. More ways to access Found, in particular an iOS app
Found reflects three key design goals that are pulled together to make one coherent experience.
The first is that today’s reality is that your files, documents, photos, and much of your personal data are spread across many devices and cloud services. Found embraces that reality and presents the user with results from their most important personal cloud services. At the same time, the stuff on the hard drive is also very important to most users and so Found indexes locally as well.
The second is that personal/desktop search ought to be fast and intuitive. The search technology that powers Found is new and custom designed to deliver results extremely quickly. The search experience is character by character in order to give the user immediate feedback about the progress of her search. Often, the user will be able to find her file with only a few characters. Moreover, there are no special command words or fields for the user to memorize. For example, filtering results by file type can be done by just typing “pdf” or “doc”.
Also part of making search fast and intuitive is to provide immediate feedback. Found generates instant previews alongside the search results to provide the user with the final visual cue/confirmation about what she was looking for. Whereas many other apps generate only thumbnail previews (or none) that can be difficult to make out, Found presents large, readable previews, which has the added benefit of allowing the user to simply read or look at the content in place without having to open the file or a new browser page.
The final goal was to seamlessly integrate into what users do on their computer. For the user, searching and retrieving her stuff is simply a means to an end. That may be emailing a colleague a presentation, posting photos to Facebook, or just wanting to read a PDF that was downloaded yesterday. With that in mind, we designed Found to keep the user in that context as much as possible, which led us to develop a custom UI, which we call the Palette. The Palette UI is a metaphor for a painter’s palette, where a painter uses a palette to make a variety of paint accessible to him without interrupting his focus on the canvas. Similarly, Found is designed to be always there when you need it and out of your way when you don’t. The control-control hotkey to call up Found then completes that accessibility and keeps the user focused on what they were doing.”
Found Software was founded in 2010 by Stephen Brady (CEO) and Vijay Sundaram (Chief Product Officer) and joined by John Mitchell (CTO) in 2011.
Stephen and Vijay started the company out of their passion for but also their personal frustration with multiple devices and cloud services. Adopting each additional device and service meant more and more fragmentation and therefore more work to get back to their data. The two started developing technology prototypes before crystalizing Found. The company, currently a team of five, is based in San Francisco.
“Ultimately, we think that a user should be able to choose as many and whichever devices and services she likes but not have to think about where her stuff is, and Found is the first step in bringing that about for users.”
I look forward to working with the Found developers in this beta and we will have an interview with Stephen when the app is ready for release. Until then, sign up for a preview at their Web site, www.foundapp.com and I hope you’re lucky enough to preview this wonderful new app.