There are many reasons not to want to hop aboard the cloud computing bandwagon. One reason is the lack of internet access in all the places where you need it, and there's nothing you can really do about that. But another common complaint is the need to trust another company enough to manage your data, and there are ways around that. Synology NAS (network attached storage) users get to build their own cloud without having to give up all of the convenience that comes with the likes of Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, SugarSync, or whomever else comes to mind. Now the company has rolled out a bunch of new stuff.

For starters, Synology has taken its DiskStation Manager 5.1 beta public, giving users access to the latest version of the operating system that powers its NAS boxes. To scratch the surface of what's new, this release supports synchronizing data in encrypted folders, handles digitally signing packages, and provides new tools for interacting with video and photos. There's also the ability to sync files to one of the aforementioned cloud storage providers if you rather not give up that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an offsite backup. Of course, that also negates the whole taking-control-of your-own-privacy thing.

Screenshot 2014-09-24 at 10.23.26 AM

You can get your hands on the DiskStation Manager 5.1 Beta over at Synology's site (here are the release notes if you're interested). The company has also launched a new NAS box you can run it on if you need to get your hands on one.

But first, take a look at the new Android-related goodies that have recently rolled out. The most notable of which is the addition of a new app. If you've taken to Synology as your preferred cloud, think of DS note as your Keep or Evernote replacement.

Note3

Note4 Note5 Note6

What's in DS note:

  • Create notes with the rich HTML editor, and append attachments (offline editing supported)
  • Create, delete, move notes and edit note information
  • Apply tags and shortcuts
  • Share notes and notebooks with friends or colleagues (Note Station account and Public link sharing both supported)
  • Restore notes from previous versions (history) or from the Recycle bin
  • Find content you need within your Note collection using the advanced search options
  • Encrypt an individual note
  • Supports HTTPS for secure connection
  • Encrypted login over HTTP without SSL
  • All features available with DSM 5.0 and Note Station 1.0 running on the DiskStation
  • Requires Android 4.0

DS note didn't get all the attention, as Synology has pushed tweaks to many of its Android apps. Frankly, there are too many changes to dive into, so here are some highlights. Synology's Android file manager app, DS file, now integrates with KitKat's storage access framework (aka, that pretty sidebar you see when opening files). DS audio and DS video both have a new style, DS photo+ has an offline library, and DS cloud now supports sharing files via a link. Here are the change logs and download links for the whole set.

What's new in DS audio:

  • Refreshed the style of the interface and improved usability
  • Rating your songs and listening to playlists of rated songs is now supported (Audio Station 5.3 Beta required)
  • Share your songs via links on social networks or email (Audio Station 5.3 Beta required)
  • New sleep timer
  • Multiple AirPlay/Bluetooth devices editor (Audio Station 5.3 Beta required)
  • Improved search results
  • Fixed an issue where songs were downloaded to the wrong destination and wouldn't play
  • Minor bug fixes

What's new in DS cloud:

  • Sharing a file via a link on social networks or emails is now supported
  • You can now disable background sync to reduce power consumption and data usage
  • Improved the design so as to avoid having the scroll bar overlap with the options button (notably on Android 4.4 devices)
  • Fixed an issue where HTC Sense 6 would cause the app not to sync when "Sync on WIFI only" was selected
  • Support for IPv6
  • Minor bug fixes

What's new in DS file:

  • You can now use apps which support Android 4.4 Document Provider to open and modify documents directly on your Synology
  • Improved the design to avoid having the scroll bar overlap with the options button (esp. on Android 4.4)
  • Possible to overwrite/skip/cancel when a file with the same name already exists
  • Fixed an issue where certain thumbnails wouldn't display
  • Fixed an issue where action buttons would not display in the edit mode on Samsung devices running Android 4.3
  • Minor bug fixes

What's new in DS photo+:

  • Added an offline library
  • Added a timeline view (Photo Station 6.x required)
  • A new light box allows to easily access key info (tags, comments, metadata..)
  • Manage location and general tags from the app
  • Moving photos to different albums is now possible
  • Sharing your photos via links on social networks or email is now supported (Photo Station 6.2 Beta required)
  • Fixed an issue where HTC Sense 6 would cause the app not to upload when "Sync on Wi-Fi only" was selected
  • Minor bug fixes

What's new in DS video:

  • New style and improved usability
  • Fixed an issue selecting subtitles with DLNA
The following features require Video Station 1.4 Beta:
  • You can now view and edit the watched status of videos
  • The search function now allows to combine filters to find videos more efficiently
  • Improved the remote player to allow re-attaching
  • Online subtitles search (requires enabling in Video Station)
  • Sharing your videos via links
  • We've added a "Recently released" category for more convenience

Sources: Synology [1], [2]