zeZebra – Free, Fast and Surprisingly Useful

zeZebra is a new app that allows users to send and receive files over a peer to peer network. The app is being championed by its developers as a way to “Share photos, videos, documents & more––send digital media of any size, to anyone, anywhere––FREE!” The tagline, taken from zeZebra’s website, sounds too good to be true. It also takes a subtle jab at the competition and is relentlessly upbeat. But consumers are used to all of this, the only question that really matters is: does the app deliver?

That depends on how you look at it. If zeZebra was aiming to unseat Cloud storage giants like justcloud.com, Dropbox, and Google Drive and crown itself the new King of file sharing, then it is a colossal failure. Cloud usage is becoming incredibly commonplace. It’s trending, to the point where the only question IT companies really need to answer to find work is: “Can you set us up with a Cloud?” It’s useful for businesses, students, and most importantly it’s fun to say. No app like zeZebra is going to replace the Cloud that tech culture is fetishizing. Period.

zeZebra Screenshot

If, however, it was looking to provide a service that no Cloud has even tried, then it is a rip-roaring success. Peer to peer transfer is more effective in many ways, for many things, than Cloud storage is. Plus, it does not require massive banks of data servers so its services can and always will be far cheaper than Cloud storage. The caveat to this advantage, of course, is that many Cloud storage options are free until a certain arbitrary storage limit is reached. So assuming you don’t use your Cloud storage to send movies, entire photo or music albums, or obscene amounts of .pdf files, what is zeZebra useful for?

The app is very simple, for one. Managing your file transfers is incredibly easy, once you have built your network. It is simply drag and drop from a computer, select and send from a mobile device (zeZebra works for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android). Any files, of any size, to anyone that uses zeZebra, anwhere with internet connection. The only time when this app won’t seem especially useful is before you have used your silver tongue to convince your business associates, friends, etc. that its worth using. Building the network is annoying, but surprisingly easy. I found that simply emailing the file through zeZebra will usually convince the recipient to get the app, since it is free after all. The email prompts them to download zeZebra to receive their file, they usually do, and voilá, new contact.

Sending files with zeZebra

Once you have your network built, zeZebra offer speed that Cloud storage cannot match. Cutting out the storage server in a warehouse somewhere means your files is simply going straight to the person you wanted it to go to. This cuts out one whole data transfer, resulting in a much faster transfer.

Another feature that is negligible to many, but extremely important to some, is that of security. Since the data is not routed through even zeZebra’s servers, the only parties who can see that data are you and the person you send it to. It’s not encrypted, which would make zeZebra more attractive to the cypherpunk crowd, but perhaps a future version will add in that feature.

So, no. zeZebra won’t replace Cloud storage. What it will do is take up the slack, doing all the things that Clouds can be used for but really shouldn’t, and doing them easier, faster, and more securely. Besides which it, too, has a very fun name to say. Watch out Cloud.