Magisto’s desktop app wants to edit all your photos and videos

The average smart phone user captures 150 photos every month. That’s 1,800 photos a year. Add a DSLR camera or maybe a GoPro to the mix, and you’ve got a whole lot of personal media. With any luck, it’s all getting backed up and archived on computers and external hard drives, only to never be seen again.

Mobile video editing specialist Magisto now wants to help users rediscover some of that footage. Magisto launched its very first desktop app for Windows PCs Tuesday. The app scans and analyzes a user’s personal media collection to turn it into shareable video clips, complete with soundtrack and professional-looking transitions.

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Magisto has been doing the same thing with its iOS and Android apps for some time, and the company recently shared a number of interesting data points about people’s mobile media collection habits with us. For example, the average camera roll holds about 630 pictures. Compare that with your typical hard drive, which may contain hundreds of gigabytes of personal media, and it becomes clear why Magisto wanted to be on the desktop as well.

But it’s not just those photos we archived long ago that make the desktop so valuable to Magisto. The company’s CEO Oren Boiman told me during a recent conversation that he also views action cams like GoPro as a huge opportunity. GoPro users easily capture gigabytes upon gigabytes of video, but a lot of that footage isn’t all that valuable, and very few users have the time and resources to ever edit the highlights. Magisto’s desktop app can now make use of that footage by selecting the best moments, and editing them together to a small, shareable clip.

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Magisto isn’t the only company trying to solve problems around personal media. Google is also offering to automatically edit pictures and videos that are uploaded to Google+. But uploading large amounts of HD video still can be a burden for users, especially those with low upload speeds. That’s why a desktop app may, at least for now, be key to unlocking long-forgotten photos and video footage.

Plex unifies its Android apps, adds camera roll casting

Media center app maker Plex just overhauled its Android app with a newer UI and the ability to cast photos and videos from the local camera roll to a Chromecast streaming stick, Roku box, game console or any other device with a Plex app installed. And while doing so, Plex also took a big step toward unifying its Android apps and making them more accessible for new users.

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Previously, users had to either buy the Android app or subscribe to the company’s Plex Pass premium tier, in which case they had to download a separate app. Now, there’s just one single app, and it’s free. However, free users will only be able to use Plex to cast media that’s either stored locally on their device, or on a Plex server. Users who also want to view or listen to content on their mobile devices need to unlock that feature via a $4.99 in-app purchase.

Aside from working on this new Android app, Plex has been busy building out a new music experience, which will be available for Plex Pass subscribers soon. Plex apps will soon be able to generate Pandora-like playlists from a user’s local music library, and also offer ad-free access to music videos from Vevo.

Special report: How we really use our camera phones

You didn’t need the latest wave of selfie sticks to know that personal media on mobile devices is huge. People are taking photos and videos all the time, and Instagram and Vine have become the new social media darlings. But take a closer look at personal media, and you’ll start to notice some very interesting differences.

iOS users for example are on average taking a lot more photos than Android users, and women are a lot more into collecting visual memories than men. Personal media startup Magisto has been noticing very distinct differences for some time, and recently, the company gathered and shared some of its data and insights exclusively with Gigaom. The results are surprising, and a must-read for anyone building products for personal media or social online.

Now, it’s worth noting that Magisto’s data is somewhat self-selective. The company makes an app that helps you to turn your everyday snapshots and video clips into short, shareable videos, complete with soundtracks and visual effects. It’s safe to assume that people who don’t take any photos at all wouldn’t download Magisto to begin with. However, the company decided to look only at new users to exclude any feedback effects of users taking more photos or videos specifically because they’ve been using the app. Altogether, Magisto analyzed the personal media habits of 66,000 iOS and Android users worldwide for this report.

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First things first: We really do take a lot of photos. The average user takes 150 new photos during a given month, according to Magisto. That’s about 5 photos a day. Video capturing, on the other hand, is still a lot less prevalent, with users taking on average just 7.5 videos during a given month. In other words, for every single video recorded, people take on average 20 photos. And most of these videos are pretty short: Those 7.5 clips make up just 7 minutes of footage combined.

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People don’t just take a lot of photos every month, they also like to collect them and carry them around for some time. The average user has 630 photos and 24 videos stored on their mobile device, with those videos again just amounting for 23 minutes of footage total. Apparently, very few people like to record their very first full-length feature films with their phones.

But these are just worldwide averages, across different device platforms, age groups and gender lines. Dive down a little deeper, and you’ll start to see a lot of very different usage patterns. Let’s begin with one of the biggest lines dividing us as a people: iOS vs. Android.

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iOS users take 65 percent more photos during any given month that their Android counterparts: The average iOS user takes 182 photos per month, while Android users only take 111 photos on average. That discrepancy continues when you look at the size of camera rolls on both platforms: The average iOS device holds 2.3 times as many photos as the average Android device.

There are a number of possible explanations for this. One is that the Android ecosystem doesn’t just include $600 flagship phones, but also very cheap devices, some of which can be had for $50 or less with a prepaid plan. These lower-end devices typically come with a lot less internal storage, which impacts their owners’ abilities to capture personal media. You just won’t take 180 photos a month if your phone constantly complains about running out of storage.

One could also argue that Apple has historically done a great job at making iPhone photos look good, which encourages people to take more photos. Again, some of the more expensive Android flagship phones also take beautiful pictures, but a cheaper Android handset may not.

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One’s choice of mobile operating system isn’t the only factor that influences personal media habits — our gender has a lot to do with it as well: Women take on average 47 percent more photos than men, whereas men take 15 percent more videos than women. And the biggest photo lovers are female iPhone users under the age of 25, taking an average of 250 photos per month.

Finding a good explanation for this may be even harder than explaining why iOS users take more photos than Android users (and your chances of offending someone are equally as high), but this discrepancy explains a lot with regards to the types of social and user-generated services popular online today. Just think of Pinterest, one of the most visual social content platforms online, whose user base is reportedly 80 percent female.

The slight male dominance in video recording is also interesting, as it could point to a perception problem for video that may have to do with the way it’s currently being presented in capturing and editing apps. Or maybe it’s just long-ingrained collective gender stereotypes. Just think back to your family parties back in the 1990s or even the ’80s, long before everyone recorded everything with smart phones. That cousin dramatically crawling on the floor with a camcorder in one hand to get the best shot? Likely a guy.

And just for the record: Male Android users take the least amount of photos, with an average of just 90 photos per month.

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All of those numbers are global averages, but there are also interesting regional differences. Magisto didn’t share too much of this data with us — the company does have competitors, after all — but it highlighted one interesting outlier: Mobile users in Japan capture a lot more media than anyone else.

The average Japanese camera roll contains 1,500 photos and videos, which is 2.3 times the global average. As in the rest of the world, women under 25 who use iPhones once again capture the most photos — they are just taking even more snapshots than their counterparts in the rest of the world. On average, young female iOS users in Japan take more than 300 photos a month – that’s about ten every single day.

Maybe the rest of the world will catch up to this behavior in the coming years — but it’s likely that differences along gender lines as well as mobile platforms will continue to be a factor for some time, giving startups some cues which users to concentrate one, or even which challenges to tackle in order to close these gaps.

Images and additional reporting by Biz Carson.

Lyve now works with Seagate drives, hints at more partnerships

Lyve, the personal media startup that introduced its own $300 photo-centric backup device last year, is getting a lot more affordable: Any Seagate drive that has at least 500GB capacity can now be turned into a Lyve backup device, the company announced at CES in Las Vegas this week.

Users just have to download the free Lyve desktop app on their Mac or PC to make use of the drive. After that, Lyve will automatically back up any photos or videos from that computer, as well as any media recorded with mobile device that has the Lyve app installed, onto that drive.

Lyve was first only available to consumers who purchased the $300 Lyve Home device, which is essentially a connected hard drive with phone-sized screen and Lyve’s media management software.

In October, the company also started to make its apps available to users who don’t have any Lyve hardware, giving them a way to organize all their media on multiple devices through one app, but not offering any back-ups. Late last year, Lyve also announced the $200 Lyve studio, which comes with only 500GB of storage, and doesn’t have a screen. Since the release of the free apps, Lyve has seen 250 million photos and videos added to its service, Lyve CEO Tim Bucher told me during an interview at CES.

With this new update, Lyve seemingly deemphasizes its own devices, but Bucher said that we can continue to expect new devices for Lyve. Some of these are going to be made by partners, he added, without elaborating further. Seagate would be an obvious hardware partner for Lyve; the hard drive maker has a significant investment in the company. However, Bucher said that Lyve may also team up with other storage media manufacturers to turn their external hard drives into Lyve storage as well.

Lyve also plans to release an SDK for its service in 2015, and the company is getting ready to update its mobile apps with tagging as well as photo editing features, which it is providing in partnership with Aviary. Users will be able to buy premium effects for editing through in-app purchases, and Bucher told me that there will also be other premium services this year. That’s why making Lyve more readily available via external hard drives will actually help the company to make more money in the long run, argued Lyve’s VP of Marketing Tami Bhaumik: “It allows us to accelerate our plans.”

After raising $10 million, Plex gets ready to take on iTunes

Media center app Plex is up to big things: The company quietly raised $10 million from Kleiner Perkins last year, and now it’s getting ready to put that money to use and take on iTunes.

Plex showed off a bunch of new music features at CES in las Vegas this week, where Plex Chief Product Officer Scott Olechowski told me that these new music features represented a big step forward for the company. “People expect their stuff to look like Netflix,” he said, adding that Plex has done a good job in the past to deliver on this expectation in the video space. For example, last year, the company added online movie trailers and recommendations to its app, allowing users to browse and explore local movie and TV show files just like they would when browsing an online video service.

In the coming weeks, Plex is now going to bring a similar experience to the music space. The company has teamed up with Gracenote to add recognition and tagging of files and help people organize their music library. Plex also uses Gracenote’s data to automatically recommend music from a user’s personal library, and even generate playlists that kind of work like Pandora stations.

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And to add some eye-candy for everyone who is using Plex on the big screen, it also shows related music videos from Vevo, which can be watched completely without ads. “This will get music to the place where people don’t need iTunes anymore,” Olechowski said. He added that Plex is even considering to eventually add paid music downloads, or team up with a music subscription service, to give users a chance to grow their music library.

Plex is getting Vevo’s videos through a partnership with the music video service, which costs the company some real money. That’s why the videos will only be available to paying Plex Pass subscribers. Plex first introduced this paid tier two years ago, initially just providing paying users with early access to new features. But with music videos and trailers, Plex is looking to turn Plex Pass more into a true premium experience, and get even more people to convert. Olechowski told me that the company already gets about 80 percent of its revenue from Plex Pass subscribers.

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Plex currently employs 42 people all around the world, and most of them have been working to bring Plex to a large number of devices, including most recently the launch on the PS3 and PS4. This year, the company also wants to improve the channel experience for integrating third-party online content in Plex, and give users better tools for their personal photos and videos.

User-generated content is “a deceptively hard problem,” said Olechowski, adding that most people are likely to have a mix of cloud-based and local media that is hard to manage. Plex wants to solve that problem by integrating more cloud storage systems over time, and help users to explore and rediscover their personal videos.

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Seagate’s new Personal Cloud drive is a $170 Plex Media Server

Remember Seagate’s new Personal Cloud drive, which my colleague Kevin Tofel wrote about earlier this week? Turns out the device, which can already play content on Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV and other devices, has another ace up its sleeve: It is getting a Plex Media Server app through Seagate’s NAS app store, the company revealed at the Pepcom Digital Experience show at CES Monday.

This is huge news for Plex fans: Plex, which is a long-time favorite of people with a large collections of personal media, has had playback apps for all major mobile platforms as well as a long list of streaming boxes, smart TVs and other connected devices for some time.

But to use Plex, you also have to run a Plex Media Server app, which either means always leaving your laptop or a dedicated media PC up and running 24/7, or buying one of a handful of supported network-attached storage drives. Plex has media server apps available for just a few NAS models, with prices generally starting at $500 and up, not even including the necessary hard drives.

Seagate was showing off its Personal Cloud drives at the Pepcom Digital Experience event at CES.

Seagate was showing off its Personal Cloud drives at the Pepcom Digital Experience event at CES.

Seagate’s Personal Cloud drives on the other hand start at $170 for a 3TB connected drive, with the option to spend a little more on a 4TB drive or a 5TB drive. Users will also be able to buy a 2-bay drive with 4TB, 6TB or 8TB capacity for added security via RAID.

Seagate’s Simple NAS Products Product Line Manager Charles Ribaudo told me that the Cloud Drive won’t be able to transcode media for Plex in real-time, but that the device will be able to transcode in advance to have the media ready in the formats you’ll need. He added that Seagate will be adding a bunch of other apps to the device, including BitTorrent Sync and Owncloud.