German startup fruux today added shared calendars to its cloud-syncing platform for keeping contacts, events and calendars synced across a range of devices and platforms. Fruux is essentially an iCloud service that’s hardware- and operating system-agnostic, and the introduction today of shared calendars is a key step in the startup’s larger plan of doing for cross-platform sync what Dropbox has done for file sharing.
The new features allow users to invite one or more people to existing calendars, along with customizable read/write permissions. The sync services then work in tandem with fruux’s existing sync services, making sure the shared information is automatically updated across devices. Google Calendar offers similar calendar sharing features, but with fruux the people you’re sharing with don’t necessarily have to be on the same service or using the same brand of device to participate fully.
Users will, however, have to pay for the privilege of using calendar sharing via fruux, at least in the near-term. Fruux CEO Dominik Tobschall said in an interview that eventually, however, the company plans to make its services available to free users, too, though with limits on the number of shares they can implement.
Overall, Tobschall said that this is an important step for the company in terms of its larger goals. Eventually, fruux sees itself as becoming the Dropbox of cloud service syncing, meaning that it lives everywhere users already work, acting as a simple, easy-to-use and understand background service that people can use to work together, with hooks into the apps and hardware people are already fond of and familiar with.
“We think this feature puts us ahead of the competition a bit,” he said. “It transforms our product from a pure personal synchronization product, to something new entirely. People can now work together better and that’s certainly a big gap [that needs addressing]. Whether it is a busy family who wants to keep tabs on what everybody is doing (or find the free spots for free-time activities), or freelancers working together; we hope it will make this a lot simpler.”
In addition to helping it increase its appeal with consumers, Tobschall said that this lays the groundwork for the company’s upcoming team-focused product, which it’s aiming to have out the doors later this year. Likewise, features introduced back in May around device management also contribute to that goal.
Fruux isn’t talking adoption numbers yet, but it has a big mountain to climb. Both Google and Apple are pushing their own syncing services aggressively with their device and operating system offerings, and offer additional features on top of calendar, event and contact syncing (including iMessage from Apple, and integrated Google Docs support for Google). And since the two are essentially dominating the mobile space these days, fruux is left to try to make the case that avoiding lock-in with any one service still makes sense. But the small company is doing a good job of building a dependable backend with strong technical chops in order to provide end users with an experience that’s simple, straightforward and doesn’t disappoint, which Dropbox has shown is the right approach to take in order to get the general public on board with cloud services.