Back to Mobile View

Skip to Content

TUAW Deals

Moxtra app for iPad gives you binders full of shareable content

In the ultra-cloud, post-PC era, we do not lack for ways to share our stuff. Got a presentation deck to show? You can go full-on web meeting with Webex, GoToMeeting, Join.me or Fuze Meeting; to create the content and share it smoothly, Slideshare or Sliderocket will serve, as would either Google or Microsoft's online presentation framework. A document or a spreadsheet: Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.com, Dolly Drive or Egnyte. And if you're organizing your thoughts into notebook form, fan-favorite Evernote has your back.

There's a bit of daylight between these platforms, though. If you want to build out a collaborative project book with the ability to include movies, sounds, PDFs, comments and annotations in an indexed "everything bucket" and share it selectively, you could do that in Evernote -- but you give up the ability to set a specific, front-to-back order and a solid presentation layer or web meeting front-end, or record your own narration to go with the show.

If you go with something like Sliderocket, you get a slick presentation with powerful sharing options, narration, analytics and web meetings built in, but you are locked into the slide format; no arbitrary media and shifting content. Neither of those approaches provides a full annotation layer atop the content, with highlights and text notes in context rather than off to the side.

That gap of daylight between pure presentation form and remember-everything functionality is where you'll find Moxtra, a new iPad app and suite of cloud services launching today. Founded by veterans of Cisco's WebEx division, the app is built around the concept of a shelf full of virtual binders, each one collecting whatever you need for that project, topic or area of interest. Moxtra's binders are digital portfolio cases, holding any document or media that you like. Binders are put together on the web or on the iPad -- an example of content curation, if not outright creation -- and you can easily narrate and share a slideshow edition that will play anywhere.

Adding pages of content to a binder is easy, with several pathways to get at your stuff. From the desktop, you can clip images or web pages right to the service; in fact, web pages can be "live" within a binder so that they'll always show the current version of the page. Cloud services like Box and Dropbox are accessible from the iPad app, so any of your files there in readable formats (PDF, images, movies, Office files and more) can be downloaded and converted to binder pages. You can take photos or video with the iPad camera, or access your existing photo library on the device. Most helpfully, there's a small desktop agent that you can install on your Mac or PC; it opens up your entire hard drive for remote access, so you can grab files at will as long as your machine is online. (One hopes Moxtra will add an extra security PIN or other challenge for users who have this access turned on -- yes, it's read-only, but it's still a lot of exposure if your iPad is stolen or compromised.)

You decide whether to keep a binder private, share to the world (via Facebook) or selectively to invited guests/collaborators. You decide if they get view-only access, or the opportunity to edit and contribute to the binder with you. There's a full commenting and annotation layer, showing anything you choose to highlight or amend. In fact, if you record narration while you swipe through the pages in a binder, every annotation step will be recorded along with it in real time; the resulting movie is saved to your iPad photo album, and you can share that out as well if you choose.

Just as you can share your binders to others, when other people share binders to you they'll show up on your binder bookshelf, with indicators showing how long they are, how many comments they have and how many people have access. Every action in every binder is logged to your Updates screen, so you can always track back and see what's been changed. It's a very personal news feed covering the things you're working on.

The Moxtra team sees this product tacking back and forth between personal and team project management, with a lightweight client supported by several heavy-hitting cloud services. The Moxtra Cloud connectors pull in your files from your desktop or other storage providers; Moxtra Binder is the main iPad collection tool. Moxtra Note is the annotation and recording facility, and Moxtra Meet is the simultaneous web meeting tool. Did I not mention that already? Yes, you can deliver a WebEx-style presentation online right from Moxtra, including VoIP audio; participants can join from their desktop browsers with ease (and also presumably from the Moxtra app itself, although I wasn't able to test this).

How would you use Moxtra? Home improvement projects, travel diaries, distance learning... the company's site shows a few other ideas, but you can come up with your own. Since Moxtra's editing facilities are limited to rearranging or replacing pages in the binder, you're not going to be creating your stuff directly within it; but when the task is to show and discuss what you're working on, it's got possibilities. The current version has some rough edges, but the company plans to evolve the product rapidly over the next few months.

Moxtra is free for the time being, with the possibility of premium plans for high-demand users further down the road. You can download Moxtra in the App Store or sign up at moxtra.com.