Eyefi Cloud: Instant Photo Sharing Across Devices

Eyefi has made a name for itself by giving wireless functionality to virtually any digital camera with its Wi-Fi-equipped Mobi SD memory cards. Today (Apr. 17), the company launched a new cloud service, called Eyefi Cloud, to let you share your newly captured photos instantly across devices such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or smart TV. We gave it a try, and were impressed with the easy setup and simple operation of the service.

Eyefi Cloud costs an annual $49 fee for unlimited photo storage. The company's Mobi connected SD cards retail for $49, $79 and $99 for the 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions respectively. Each card comes with a free 90-day trial of the cloud service, and you'll need at least one Eyefi Mobi card to sign up for the Cloud service at launch. If you already have a Mobi, you can sign up without getting a new card or any updates.

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The new Eyefi Mobi apps are available for free in the Apple, Google Play and Amazon app stores, and you'll need iOS 7 or Android 4.0.3 and later to use them.

You can view, edit, organize and share your photos on the go with the cloud service, and create private albums to share with specific groups of people by sending them a direct link. From the Web app, you can see whom you've shared the photos with as well as whether they've opened the link.

The Mobi SD cards are helpful for photographers who hate the hassle of transferring files the old-fashioned way with card readers — allowing them instead to beam the media wirelessly to connected devices. While you can already do this with many newer, Wi-Fi-capable cameras and their associated apps, Eyefi adds this capability to the majority of cameras that don't have Wi-Fi, especially older models.

The company also introduced Desktop Transfer apps today for PCs and Macs to facilitate wireless transfers to your computer.

Fast syncing

This new cloud service could be particularly useful for those with multiple cameras who want to consolidate and organize their photos. Each time you snap a photo on a camera with a Mobi card in it, the image is shared to a connected device with the Eyefi app, such as a smartphone, and then uploaded to the cloud. Compared to services such as Dropbox and Flickr, Eyefi offers more comprehensive organization tools. With Eyefi, you can also store an unlimited number of pictures, compared to the 1TB on Flickr's free accounts and Dropbox's free 2GB.

During a demonstration for Tom's Guide, all this syncing happened within seconds. It took more time for pictures to move from the camera to smartphone, but changes and uploads made on the phone showed up immediately on the web app.

Easy setup

When we inserted the Mobi card into our Canon Rebel T2i DSLR, a Wi-Fi signal icon appeared at the bottom of the camera's LCD. (Eyefi says that the vast majority of cameras today are equipped with software to enable Eyefi cards.) We easily activated the card by downloading the Eyefi app on our Galaxy S5 smartphone and entering the code on the card's case.

After searching our camera's menu, we found an Eyefi Settings option through which we enabled transfers and set up the connection. Once the two devices connected, the 95 pictures on the Eyefi card synced to the phone in just under ten minutes. Each new photo we snapped after the sync was complete showed up on the smartphone as a preview in less than a minute.

We created a cloud account by going into Settings in the Mobi mobile app, but you can also do so via Eyefi's web portal. Within 30 seconds, we saw pictures show up on the web app via the cloud. According to Eyefi, you should see a note at the top of the app that tells you the progress of your upload, although we didn't see it in ours. This might be because we were testing a preview version of the app.

Our favorite feature of the cloud service is the ability to share albums privately with people, see if they've opened the link, revoke albums from specific people (if need be) and notify collaborators when the album is updated. Eyefi tells us it plans to add more editing tools to make its service more useful for collaboration. We're looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.

On the whole, Eyefi is a solid option to help connect older cameras to today's modern ecosystem, and the cloud service offers a seamless management system for busy photographers.

Follow Cherlynn Low at @CherlynnLow and on Google+. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.