Tools to convert file types, particularly audio and video files, are among the last to move from the desktop to the browser. Part of the problem is CPU usage during the conversion (it’s expensive to do this online) and part of the problem is the upload time for the user.
We’ve written about a couple of products that do online file conversion, Zamzar and Media Convert. But Marseille, France based Hey!Watch, which we tested our yesterday evening, appears to be a much more robust product than anything we’ve seen previously, and they’ve added developer tools to help build their functionality directly into other web services. The service is in private beta, but there is some information on the home page and you can request an invitation to join.
Hey!Watch allows users to import files to the service in a number of ways, including uploading from a hard drive or simply putting in the URL of a video froa YouTube or other popular online video service. But they also allow users to upload videos via a RSS feed, so new enclosures from future show will automatically be uploaded as well. The company has also created bookmarklets and a Firefox plugin to import a video from a currently viewed website to the service with a single click.
Once files are uploaded, they can be converted to all of the usual formats and then downloaded. And they’ve also used RSS intelligently here as well – they’ve created a RSS feed for all of a user’s converted files, so they can simply be gathered from a feed reader without going back to the Hey!Watch site each time.
There’s a use case for this that is really compelling – any time you see a video on YouTube or another site that you want to keep, all you have to do is hit the button on the bookmarklet, and later gather the file from the RSS feed. Those files can be in MPEG4 format for an iPod, or DVD format for burning to a DVD. Want to create a DVD for a friend of your favorite YouTube music videos? This service is going to make that dead simple.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. All of the key functionality is available via a REST API, for developers to build directly into their products.
Hey!Watch will have a free version, along with a premium version with higher limits on total upload limits, maximum video size and length, etc. Look for their launch in a couple of weeks.