BitTorrent today launched an alpha version of an application that allows users to sync their files across devices and share them with friends without them being stored on an external server where they are subject to size limits and vulnerable to legal action and company closures.
The application, called Sync, allows two users to share a folder of files and keep it up to date on both machines so long as they are both online and have the application installed.
“It’s very much about sharing and transferring data in a way that’s secure and fast,” said Brett Nishi, BitTorrent’s director of product management.
The user creates a folder and sets up an access key for that folder. He or she determines which other devices or users will share the key, thereby gaining access to the folder. Users can also allow read-only access to their files.
On the backend, BitTorrent sees an encrypted key, and determines which users share it in order to sync the files between machines. Unlike with Dropbox, which stores a single copy of a file in the cloud, Sync saves copies of shared files on all relevant devices. As a result, the company places no limits on the size of the files that can be shared.
The early release appeals to BitTorrent’s core following, which is fairly technically sophisticated.
“We think, based on user feedback, that there’s a big need for something in this space, so we’re just going to see where it takes us. As we move into beta and beyond we are going to make it much more consumer friendly,” Nishi said.
Because BitTorrent created the protocol that bears its name, which many use to share copyright-protected content such as movies and software, the company’s newest file-sharing product will likely have its critics.
But Sync was not built to enable users to engage in widespread distribution in the way that bit-torrent downloads have.
“I don’t think it’s a very good tool for that sort of experience. It’s really meant to sync between users who know each other. It doesn’t have an element of mass distribution to it. If users are looking to share copyright-protected files, there’s probably much better ways to do that,” Nishi said.
The application is free, at least in its alpha version.