Mylio, a subscription-based photo organization and storage program, is making a debut at this year's PhotoPlus Expo in new York. Created by MyLO, a Bellevue, Washington-based company, Mylio offers cross-device access to a user's collection of photos, without them having to change their storage structure. The software makes photos available for viewing and editing on a desktop, laptop, phone or mobile device, with edits synced between devices, and original files backed up in several places in an effort to keep them safe. 

Mylio offers three subscription plans:

  • Basic Plan: $50/year for JPEG only, three devices, up to 50,000 images
  • Standard Plan: $100/year JPEG and Raw, image editing options, five devices and up to 100,000 images
  • Advanced Plan: $250/year for multiple locations, 10 devices and up to 500,000 images

Mac computers running OSX 10.8 or later are supported, as are PCs with Windows 7 and 8. An app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch is available for those devices running iOS 7 or later. There’s currently no Android app but that’s expected to change in 2015. 

If this sounds familiar, you may be thinking of Adobe's Revel service (previously Carousel). Revel offers cloud storage with a similar cross-platform approach, with in-app editing tools available. Revel provides 2GB of space for free, or unlimited storage with a $5.99/month premium account. The differences between the two are in storage - Revel requires images to be uploaded to Adobe's cloud service, where Mylio does not over any cloud storage at all.

In use

It’s important to note that Mylio isn’t an answer to a storage problem. If you have photos spread across various USB thumb drives and memory cards scattered through your desk drawers and no storage space for them, Mylio cannot help. That's your responsibility. While there is a cloud component to the service, it’s more of a go-between and a backup option for the system rather than a primary storage location for your actual images. Mylio is designed to work with an existing storage structure, not replace it. 

Getting started means registering an account with Mylio and downloading the app and/or software to whichever devices you’d like it to sync with. I downloaded Mylio to my work Mac running OS X 10.9.5 and my iPhone 5 running iOS 7 without any problems.

From there, the harder work begins. The initial setup requires a bit of a time investment, proportional of course to the size of your image library and the complexity of your storage systems. Importing photos from Facebook and Flickr is a matter of inputing your credentials for those accounts as prompted, selecting the albums to import (or simply selecting 'all') and waiting as they’re gathered. 

Mylio’s desktop software includes an image window with tools for importing images on the left and a number of informational tabs on the right. Clicking the icons brings up information such as sync settings, metadata and location. 

Not every image downloaded to Mylio is saved in its full size on every one of your devices - this would be disastrous for example on a low-capacity smartphone. Instead, Mylio creates 'preview' and 'thumbnail' sizes in addition to your original file, and those are saved to devices that the user specifies. By default, a mobile device will save only thumbnails locally to avoid taking up too much space, but this can be managed in the 'sync' pane of the software.

The green bars indicate which devices contain originals, thumbnails and previews. This photo is backed up on my desktop and in the cloud, with a thumbnail available on my phone.

Photos on your computer’s hard drive or on a connected storage device can be imported in a couple of ways. It’s possible to ‘add’ folders or ‘copy’ folders into Mylio, a distinction which may not be immediately apparent but is an important one. Copying folders bring them into Mylio, creating a separate version in Mylio’s directory. Adding folders keeps photos in their original location, so any changes made to the photos within Mylio will be reflected in their original location as well. A third option is to 'move' a folder, which removes the files from their original location and brings them completely into Mylio.

Provided you’ve got the Mylio app running on your mobile device (iOS only for now) you can sync the contents of your phone or tablet’s camera roll with Mylio. If you’ve got a lot of photos on your phone this can take quite a while, and the Mylio app needs to be open the whole time. Additionally, anytime in the future you want to sync up your mobile photos with Mylio you’ll need to open up the app again, as it doesn’t sync up photos automatically behind the scenes. 

Photos arrive in Mylio with metadata, viewable in the ‘info’ pane on the righthand side of the screen. Along with metadata, Mylio will pull in names of the people it finds tagged in photos, as well as any star ratings added in outside software like Lightroom. Mylio honors your own storage structure, but also offers ‘albums’ as a way to organize photos across all of your imported folders. You can also add keywords and ratings within Mylio. This data can be used to filter through images.

Mylio offers some basic photo editing tools, but this will depend on the plan you've signed up for. The basic plan offers simple editing tools and only JPEGs, so working with thumbnails on your mobile device will only yield options for basic retouching like cropping and rotating. Edits are saved as 'sidecar' files, meaning that although you'll see an edited image in its adjusted state, the original file is not materially altered. Standard and Advanced plans provide more editing tools and also make it possible to edit Raw files.

Mylio offers basic editing features. Edits can be applied to thumbnail and original images through the desktop app, and depending on your subscription level, edits will be made to Raw files rather than JPEGs where possible. 

First Impressions

After using Mylio for a couple of weeks, I’ve been able to see it in action. I’m not a power user by any means, and my test drive of the service was of around only 1200 photos - some from Flickr, Facebook, my desktop hard drive, my iPhone camera roll, and from a server at work. 

Every photo I’ve taken for a camera review in the past year at DPReview is stored in a central location, and I definitely don’t need access to all of that all the time. So Mylio comes in handy for grabbing the standout photos from each of those sets, saving the originals in a couple of locations, and giving me quick access to them on my phone and desktop. 

While a lot of my photos are organized by camera review, the effect would be pretty much the same for photographers who organize photos by date or the trip taken. Instead of those photos living only on a hard drive at home, Mylio helps back them up across multiple devices and make them available wherever you go. Depending on your catalog, this could include every photo or just the 'greatest hits' from any given set.

Mylio is an ambitious program - providing organization and backup across many devices requires a flexible piece of software, and in my testing Mylio was very responsive. Updates made to folders on my phone were reflected on the desktop software almost instantly, and vice versa. 

It's important to note that Mylio requires a good deal of legwork initially, both in getting photos imported and configuring sync settings to your liking. Once that's out of the way it's fun to play with, but depending on your catalog, setup could take a couple of days to get right. Cost is another consideration - Mylio's Standard Plan is $30 more expensive than Adobe's Premium plan, and the latter offers unlimited photo storage.

It's possible that the kind of people to whom Mylio might naturally appeal - i.e., slightly disorganized new photographers trying to take some control over their growing library - will be a little put off by the setup process and might also baulk at $50 per year.

Mylio is definitely worth a test run for a photographer who already has a great storage system in place and is looking for quick access to more of his or her photos. As we've already stated, Mylio isn't a storage service, but acts rather a coordinator of your own storage devices. Inevitably, someone without that storage structure in place may not find Mylio as useful as it can be. It's also worth remembering that we've looked at Mylio in its first iteration, and we'll be watching to see how it evolves.