German startup fruux, which announced seed funding from High-Tech Gründerfonds and netSTART Ventures in March, today unveiled a new feature for its cloud-based contact, calender and to-do syncing platform that allows for easy device management. The move is a key one in terms of fruux’s goal of becoming a platform-independent version of Apple’s iCloud, and also an important step towards its secondary goal of making a version of fruux also targeted at teams and groups collaborating online.
Now, fruux users can assign computers and mobile devices unique user name and password, making it possible to also delete the device from your cloud syncing pool if you lose it or it gets stolen. Having device-specific logins also increases security, by making sure that if one device gets hacked, the others are still protected without any action required on a user’s part.
More importantly, however, fruux CEO and founder Dominik Tobschall told us in an interview that this new feature helps set the stage for some more advanced abilities to come.
“The device management is an important building block towards our team-focused product. It allows you to delete a device in case it was lost or gets stolen,” he said. “Once we roll-out “team” we’ll also have our wiping feature in place, which will allow you to not only cut off a device [from sync], but also wipe the contacts and calendars from it. This is also important in situations where somebody leaves the team/joins the team, or you manage a ton of devices, etc.”
Remote wiping, planned for release sometime in the next few weeks, will be yet another page fruux borrows from Apple’s playbook with iCloud, but that’s something Tobschall freely admits. “Our approach is quite simple: Synchronization that doesn’t suck,” he said. “Apple certainly did a nice job for people who only use Apple devices, [but] we’re delivering this as a cross-platform solution. Once we also integrate with external services (planned and in the works), we’ll not only bridge ‘device/vendor’ gaps, but also platform gaps.”
Such integrations are at the top of users’ request lists in terms of feature additions, Tobschall told us. Fruux currently supports Macs and CardDAV/CalDAV powered calendar and contact applications on any mobile and desktop platform, as well as iOS devices. Still, fruux endeavours to support true cross-platform syncing, plugging into your contacts, calendars and to-dos in whatever services users happen to currently use.
As fruux works on its team-focused platform, which would allow groups to share a pool of cloud-synced information, and which Tobschall says the company is providing because users were already using their service in that way anyway, it’s putting it funding into talent acquisition and infrastructure.
While fruux competes with some major players in both Apple and Google for contact/calendar and task list syncing, it’s winning over customers (100,000 sign-ups the last time the company released numbers in March, and Tobschall says that’s grown steadily since) with its simple, device and platform-agnostic approach. Additional security controls and the introduction of sharing features should only contribute to its early success.