BitTorrent today updated two products: its file synchronization tool Sync and its encrypted P2P chat app Bleep. The former’s version 2.0 is now in private alpha while the latter has received true offline messaging support. Both of these are part of a bigger story the company is getting ready to tell as part of its growing portfolio of consumer-facing products next year.
In November, the company unveiled Sync 2.0, slated for a 2015 release, and said it would be the first stable release of the tool. The company also unveiled its plan to release three new products, and Erik Pounds, BitTorrent Sync’s VP of product management, told VentureBeat that “Sync is now being treated as a portfolio.”
Sync Pro will be a premium edition of Sync that introduces new functionality not available in the free version, for $39.99 per year. New capabilities include having access to very large folders on-demand, controlling ownership and permissions for shared folders, and automatically keeping information consistent across desktop and mobile devices.
As for the 2.0 free release, here is what BitTorrent is promising:
- Feature improvements to enhance sharing and syncing folders
- Updated UI across platforms; new tablet apps on Android and iOS
- General performance improvements and bug fixes
- 30-day trial period for Sync Pro
All of the above is now available in alpha. You can download the test build from the BitTorrent forum.
The second and third upcoming Sync products don’t have names yet, but one helps IT departments move many files across devices and the other is a mobile product for sending large files (think cross-platform AirDrop). Sync 2.0 and Sync Pro are being released in Q1 2015, followed by the large-file-sending mobile product and the file-replication product.
Also in November, BitTorrent updated Bleep with basic offline messaging support. We say “basic” because messages could only be sent once both users were online again. Because Bleep doesn’t rely on servers, messages had to live on the device of the sender until a connection was made.
Now, BitTorrent has achieved asynchronous offline messaging, which does not require a server to store the message until an offline user comes back online. The company pulled this off using BitTorrent’s Distributed Hash Table (DHT):
We’ve configured messages in a way that only sender and receiver can receive the content of the message, or know that a message even exists. All messages are end to end encrypted, and Forward Secrecy will be supported in a future release.
As we explore offline messaging with Bleep, it’s important to note that in this version, we cannot guarantee that an offline message will be delivered, as it will likely not last in the DHT more than a few days. The ephemeral nature of the DHT means that these messages are also truly ephemeral. It’s up to the receiver to retrieve messages before they disappear.
BitTorrent says that when the sender comes back online, Bleep will refresh offline messages in DHT if they still haven’t been delivered. The company says the chance that a message will completely disappear before delivery is “very slim” but it is possible, and the company is “working hard to improve this feature in a future version.”
Formerly known as BitTorrent Chat, Bleep was first released in private alpha in July, but only for Windows 7 and Windows 8. A public alpha release followed in September, with apps for Android and OS X.
BitTorrent has yet to share specific release dates for Sync 2.0 and Bleep, but we will let you know when they’re ready for broad consumption.