Ben WoodsEurope Editor
Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.
Re-inventing the word processor might not sound like the most exciting thing in tech right now – and indeed, it might not be – but with our workday increasingly peppered by distractions and ‘Columbo tasks’ (“Just one more thing”), saving time and improving the way in which we work is a worthwhile endeavour.
To that end, Branchfire, the startup behind mobile document editor iAnnotate, has been quietly working away to build a platform called Folia that brings a seamless workflow to collaborative word processing and document markup.
Drawing on the company’s experience in handling more than a million consumer users and more than 100,000 large firms and B2B customers, Folia aims to super-charge collaborative document creation, management and sharing by providing a simplified environment for editing and composing text.
Its trump card, however, is providing things like the ability to link text to documents, or link documents to other specific documents – and thereby cut down on the amount of time people need to spend explaining their projects and the context to others.
Obviously, Folia supports standard file types like PDF, DOC, PPT and image files (among others), and it also includes the ability to comment on or mark-up linked documents or Web pages. It also offers full cross-platform syncing, allowing you to access the most recent version of your files from any device at any time. Currently, there are apps for iPad, Android tablets, OS X, and Windows 8 tablets and desktops. The Android version is initially read-only, a spokesperson said.
More than just a jumped-up Google Docs, Ravi Bhatt, CEO and co-founder of Branchfire, explained that he is positioning Folia as a platform that more closely mimics the way in which people communicate.
We see a unique opportunity in respect to creating content; authoring in the digital world. In the last 10-20 years we’ve seen a [significant] improvement in how we consume information on the internet… The consumption experience has gotten good not just because of ubiquity of access, but because of interconnections and relationships and things like that. What we’re eager to do is bring that kind of experience to the world of authorship.
Sure, it’s kind of a Google Docs strategy in the sense of taking word processing a little further, but I think it’s going to go much further than what Google or New York companies like Quip are doing; offering a mobile-centric word processor.
Essentially, what Branchfire is trying to build is an integrated set of tools that allow for creation, collaboration and context all under one roof.
“What’s happening is that we’re all using a plurality of tools to try to do something somewhat clear, which is: to write about a project, to write a communication. In terms of competition, that includes Microsoft Word or any place you’d write longer-form text,” Bhatt said.
By drawing on its previous experience and validating the market with iAnnotate, Branchfire has taken a running start at facing-off against the biggest players in the space – a pretty impressive feat for a company that has largely flown under the radar and not raised any external funding to date.
While Folia can’t add more time to your working day, it does promise to make collaborative working easier and quicker. If you want to take it for a test run, you can do so now for free for a limited time.
➤ Folia | Android | iOS | Windows 8 | OS X
Featured Image Credit – Shutterstock
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