Atlas Recall is a cross-platform search with a big caveat

You’re probably thinking, “I’ve heard of this before. Doesn’t it already exist?” You’re most likely thinking of universal search on Apple TV or Spotlight on the Mac and iOS. Or, perhaps, Google. But Atlas Recall is more like an amalgamation of these different services. While Google can search the indexed web and information from accounts you’ve signed into, it can’t look at documents stored locally on your laptop or iPhone. And although Spotlight and Universal Search trawl your apps, files and even the internet, they can’t pull up a page from your browsing history or make associations with other things you were looking at. Atlas Recall is unique in its ability to sort your results by other events at the same time.

During a demo, Atlas Informatics founder Jordan Ritter showed how the program was able to pull up the resume of a specific candidate by looking up the words “security engineer.” You can also look for something based on the time you opened it or what you were doing when you saw it. Search results are laid out visually, with screenshots of each listing organized by file type (images, documents, web pages, et cetera). This layout supposedly helps jog users’ memories and enables them to more quickly find what they were looking for. It’s this graphical sorting system that led Ritter to describe Atlas Recall as “a searchable photographic memory.” That’s a bit cheesy, but it comes close to describing the tool.

Obviously, privacy concerns are huge with something that can watch your every digital move. To assuage these, Ritter said each user has full control over what gets indexed and what doesn’t. There’s a Pause mode that temporarily stops the tool from capturing your sordid browsing behavior for 15, 30 or 60 minutes. And if you never want your sensitive data, such as banking information, captured, you can block certain sources, like your bank’s website, from being scanned altogether. As for the content you do allow, it is all encrypted “at rest and in motion,” said Ritter. So when it’s being beamed to the cloud and when it’s on your device, your data is scrambled for security.

Right now Atlas Recall is only available as an open beta on Macs and iOS (as a companion app that requires the desktop version). A Windows 10 version will be available soon, but the outlook for Android isn’t clear. Only Chrome and Safari are supported right now, though other browsers are being tested. The service’s limited availability makes the whole “search everything!” spiel slightly misleading, but with more time and testing, Atlas Recall has the potential to become a powerful tool indeed.

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