You start playing a game on your tablet, but then your ride shows up. Grabbing your smartphone, you continue playing the game where you left off.
That vision of a seamless transition between devices is being demonstrated by the startup Nextbit, which this afternoon premiered its Baton product.
Baton, now available in an invite-only beta, is essentially the next step in syncing. Not only are apps and data automatically backed up and synced to the cloud, but also files or application states become immediately available on other registered devices. With Baton, you can continue on another device what you were doing in a browser or an app on a first device — without having to open the app and find the saved file or state.
The Nextbit co-founders — CEO Tom Moss and CTO Mike Chan — are former Google Android engineers who have raised $18 million from Google Ventures and Accel Partners since the company was formed in 2012.
“Two years ago, we left Google because we became infatuated with the idea [of] the cloud as a foundational part of the device itself,” Moss told VentureBeat. He recalled that they then “hired some of our smartest colleagues” from Amazon, Apple, Dropbox, and other major tech firms.
Currently, he noted, the “transition between devices is cumbersome,” which Baton seeks to remedy without SDKs or APIs. It is integrated into the OS itself, which is CyanogenMod, a custom open-source version of Android that must be present on the participating devices. Chan told us that “the majority of apps” can work with Baton, including the “full state” of any browser.
The cofounders acknowledged that they are not alone in the sync space, with Dropbox, Amazon, Google, and others also offering sync capabilities. Baton’s most direct competitor, they noted, is Apple’s Handoff for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. But while Apple’s solution requires third-party developers to gain access through an API, Baton is OS-based.
Moss said that Baton will soon be launching on two different brands, although he declined to name them. He added that the product will be available for free for six months, “and then we will revisit monetization [possibilities].”
Baton is only one of the products in Nextbit’s ambition to “move the computing paradigm to a cloud-device future.” The company is releasing this month a cloud-based Backup/Restore product that will be available as a white-label version on all Android devices from Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo.
A third product called Limitless Storage, launching next year, will offer a large amount of cloud-based storage “that exceeds your [device] storage by a good amount,” Moss said, in the vicinity of 100 gigabytes.
The intent, he said, is “to blur the border between the cloud and a device.”