What is Atlas Recall

Personal Über-Google: Atlas Recall goes into open beta

The US start-up Atlas Informatics, which is behind the Atlas Recall offer, has received $ 20.7 million in a recent financing round. The new capital comes from Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO and co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, and venture capitalist Aspect Ventures. Jordan Ritter, the CEO of Atlas, is no stranger either: Among other things, he has already founded Cloudmark and was instrumental in the development of Napster. Now the company he leads is supposed to revolutionize the search.

“Atlas Recall provides a searchable, photographic memory of everything that you have once viewed digitally on one of the devices, apps and cloud services you use,” is the ambitious promise. Now that the public beta has been activated, anyone can theoretically try out whether this is redeemed after registering on the website. At the moment, Atlas Recall is only available for MacOS and iOS, versions for Windows 10 and Android are in preparation.

The questions that immediately arise in a service that intervenes so deeply in personal habits and activities are all answered satisfactorily, at least on paper: Of course, everything is encrypted with Atlas Recall and of course you can use settings to determine what should be "remembered" by the service. In addition, the provider ensures that he does not need access to the APIs of the services used by the users.

And to prevent any misunderstanding: No, Atlas doesn't want to be a new competitor to Google: The search for things that you don't know is left to the industry leader among search engines. More like competition to the outrageously expensive and unsuccessful Google Search Appliance, which made the promise to find everything that is stored within a company - but with the claim to offer these functions for the personal digital universe of every user. A desktop search, so to speak, for “the desktop, mobile devices and all the rest” - to modify a quote from the British author Douglas Adams.

In order to fulfill this task, Atlas Recall really indexes everything that the user calls up, reads, views, stores or forwards on his computer or any other device he uses, be it a Word document, Facebook pages, e-mails Content from apps or whatever. In contrast to earlier attempts at indexing, this mass of information, unimaginable over time, should be searchable and easily accessible for users because it is not organized according to the needs of computers, but is organized in the way people would sort it.

Trust is the be all and end all

Even in a more detailed conversation with TechCrunch, CEO Jordan Ritter only hints at what exactly is meant by this. The memory of people's digital content spans all devices and applications. Have you seen the interesting video on Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo or a company website? Where was the recipe for the delicious cookies again? On the chef's website, a PDF received by email, or an online forum? The person forgets the place, Atlas Recall does not - that is the promise.

For this to work, Atlas Recall not only has to remember all the content, but also countless metadata about the context in which it stands - for example when it was viewed, where you were at the time, what happened before and after and what others Windows and apps were open at the same time.

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In order to make the amount of data manageable, there are filters for content types, the date or time periods and drill-down options in each result list. Atlas Recall can also be switched off beforehand for certain activities. What you can remember without the help of the software or what you might not want to be reminded of at all or what you don't want to share with the “omniscient garbage dump”, everyone has to and can decide for himself.

Because there is, of course, a catch: for this to work, all of the metadata has to be saved in the cloud. It is not possible any other way. Ritter explains to TechCrunch that “trust has to be built” - but gives himself the testimony that he has what it takes as a former security engineer. He also argues with the planned business model: It is not based on sifting through and using the data, as is the case with Google and Facebook. Atlas is working on marketing the final version with a freemium model - without advertising, but with costs for users who do not only use the basic functions or who want to use it in companies.