Eye-Fi Unveils Circ, a Cloud Photo Service with Unlimited Free Storage

We reported in the middle of last month that Eye-Fi was planning to launch a new cloud-based photo sharing service with the name Circ. That day has arrived: the wireless SD card maker has officially launched the service into private beta. Unlike other cloud services, which cap storage space for free accounts — 5GB is a popular limit — Circ doesn’t. Rather than limit free accounts by storage, Circ is based on the number of devices used. A free account lets you sync 2 devices, while a $50/year paid account allows up to 20.

What Circ does is take your devices and sync them both with one another and with the cloud. This allows for all your photos to be always accessible everywhere you go, whether or not you’re connected to the web. Delete one copy from the app, and it’s copied across all your devices and the cloud.

The app is also designed to help you to organize and sort your massive collection of photos and videos. Once content is imported, they’re automatically organized by date and camera before they’re synced. You can also build custom albums, mark photos as “favorites”, and add captions and tags. All the metadata is synced with the photos.

In terms of image resolution and quality, Circ stores original resolution images. However, it does perform “intelligent recompression” on them to shrink the file size without any visible loss in quality. (Check out this 5.1MB original photo, and compare it to this 1.1MB recompressed photo.)

Since different devices have different screen sizes, the app intelligently picks and transfers images at a resolution that’s optimized for your device. View the photo on a computer, and you’ll be enjoying the full (recompressed) original. Check it out on a smartphone, and you might pull up a file that’s 1/10th as large in terms of file size.

Photographs stored in the Circ cloud can be easily shared from the Circ cloud. The app includes a number of options for easy sharing, and you’ll be able to point family and friends to photos and albums by sending them simple links to your Circ account. Registration won’t be required for viewing the content.

Circ currently offers dedicated apps for Windows and Mac computers, as well as iOS and Android devices. Apps are also being developed for additional platforms.

If you can’t wait to start trying out this service, we’ve received an exclusive invite code just for our readers. Enter Circ_PetaPixel at the beta testing signup page, and you’ll receive a registration link within a couple of days. The code is only good for 250 people, though.

The cloud photo storage and sharing space may be teeming with services now, but Eye-Fi’s new free and unlimited service will definitely put pressure on services that are still charging monthly or yearly fees for extra storage.

  • Meniscus

    Although light, this definitely is lossy compression of your “originals” (doesn’t say if it supports raw files, assuming JPEG only).

    Grab the original image of their sample and take it into Photoshop. Now grab the recompressed one and layer it on top of the orig. Turn on and off the layers. Looks pretty good so far but… Now invert the recompressed version layer and change the opacity to 50%, now unchanged pixels stay 50% gray. Look along the harline and you can see some colored pixels, which are a change from the orig.

    Flatten the layers and apply a levels adjustment of 120/1.00/135 and you’ll generate a map of all the areas that lost slight detail in the compression. Looks like only that flat sky was left unaltered. Not so good now if you are using this for storage of original images. A few generations of this and it would multiply the damage.

  • edunon

    And took you all those steps to see the differences! I layered the files on top of each other in photoshop as well and I must say I was impressed with the detail retained at such compression.
    If I can’t see it on the screen I definitely won’t see it printed. It must be due to the characteristics of this particular image, where the only sharpened detail is in the hair.
    Considering it’s only on beta state is heading in the right direction.

  • Meniscus

    Yeah, all those steps took me about :45 seconds ;-) We both spent way more time just posting comments about it! It is fairly impressive quality for reducing the file size to 20% of the original. My point was that it is positioned as an archive service, for which any compression of originals is unacceptable. Simple as that. People should be aware and make an educated decision. I have no other stake in the matter.

  • eric westpheling

    Great work. I also agree that any compression is bad compression if you are talking originals.

  • Danielle Skodak

    If this supports raw it will be worth it. Even at the great price of ‘free’ it isn’t worth it if I can’t use it in a way that’s productive for me.