In the past I reviewed many applications for Mac to upload and share files on the internet. Applications such as Droplr, Cloud or Fileshuttle allow you to quickly select files (or URLs) on your desktop and upload them to remote servers (in Fileshuttle's case, even your own server) to share a short link with your friends or colleagues later. Those are handy apps that help you saving a lot of time when you need to upload any kind of file. Cloud App is very popular among Mac users, and it's been running on my Mac for a quite a while, too.
But Courier is different. It's not an application that lets you quickly upload files to third-party services, it's a great-looking tool that allows you to send files to popular services you're already subscribed to like Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook and Flickr. It looks beautiful, it works great. It's the new application from Realmac Software.
Here's my review.
There was so much anticipation around Courier. In fact, when we linked to the teaser video of the app (which is amazingly awesome, by the way) and said that we were testing the software preview, we received dozens of replies and emails asking for more details. That usually happens for many betas, but I could feel the hype around this one. And I'm not surprised, the Realmac guys are well-known for making great Mac software - Courier is no exception to that. First off, the user interface: that's the first thing you'll notice (how couldn't you?) and it won't disappoint you: it's wooden-based, great attention has been put to smallest details like envelope textures, services icons, menus - everything. Like I said Courier is a beautiful app to look at. Clearly the developers were inspired by the latest skeuomorphic iPad trends (Realmac usually don't put real elements textures in their applications), but I think that it works well with Courier. In regards to what the app does, the UI fits the purpose.
Courier is a dedicated interface to upload files to Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, Flickr, Amazon S3 and Ember (or simple FTP). The developers have already announced that they'll support more services soon, and that an API will be opened so that 3rd party devs can offer plugins. Actually, there are two plugins already available: Twitpic for Courier and a Cloud App plugin.
Courier allows you to upload files to multiple destinations at once, thanks to an envelope system that you can rely on to create website-specific collections. Say you want to upload photos to Flickr and Facebook at the same time, with Courier you can. Or if you want to send some pics to Facebook and Flickr, and some other ones to another Flickr account - you can. Courier supports multiple accounts per services, and envelopes can be saved as "templates" to use again in the future. If you're that kind of user who usually uploads a lot of elements to multiple websites on a regular basis - well, you might have found your new favorite app.
Uploading items is simple: first, you create an envelope and decide which services have to go with it. When you hit the + button to create envelope, it slowly slides down from the top with a cool animation which is a real pleasure to see. Actually, great animations can be found anywhere in the app, both in the envelope section and the delivery one. Once you've created an envelope you double click it and two panels pop in, one for the services you can set up and a second one for the actual envelope. What's cool is that you can drag stamps from the left panel, put them on the envelope (you choose the position) and fill in your accoiunt credentials. Here you can choose your privacy settings and play around with multiple accounts. Once you've got the services set up and the envelope customized (three times are available, I wonder if more will be added in the future) you can click on Done and go back to the main screen. Here's my one and only gripe with the app: that Done button is hidden. I often forget its position, and I would have liked to be able to click anywhere on the screen to dismiss the modal panels. You can double click to dismiss the panels, but that's unnatural. Maybe an update will fix this.
What about files? You can either drag them on to the envelope or choose Add Files from the File menu (⌘ + ⇧ + N works, too). Make sure that an envelope is selected if you add files via shortcut - drag & drop is undoubtedly easier. When files are added to an envelope, you'll be able to see them if via hover thanks to a gorgeous transparency effect. This is a cool trick Realmac have implemented to enable you to get a preview of files inside an envelope.
The delivery section is awesome. Once an upload starts, the app switches to a Map view where you can see a Google Map (?) in the middle, envelopes on the left and the files being uploaded on the right. The Map lets you see the files moving from your location to remote servers (say Facebook ones) - too bad my router has problems with retrieving location. What's great about this screen, though, is that it serves the purpose of letting you see the files going online and a permament history of your uploads.
Overall, Courier is one of the best new apps I recently installed on my Mac. Together with Panic's Transmit 4, this is an application that could aim for an Apple Design Award next year. No jokes, I love Courier: it provides an easy, fast and beautiful way to upload items to my most used and favorite services. I won't upload pics using Facebook's and Flickr's web interface anymore, same applies for Ember and Vimeo. The app is stable, it's powered by state-of-the-art OS X animations and, more importantly, it's fun to use. One could argue that Realmac built an overly visual app to accomplish a simple task. I say they created the most beautiful way to complete boring tasks.
Courier is available now at $19.95 for a limited time offer. It will go up to $24.95 soon. You can also follow @courierapp for updates and news about the app.