8/24/2006 1:02:07 PM, by Jeremy Reimer
Last December, I wrote about a team that was constructing a plugin for Firefox called AllPeers. Claiming that their product would be "The best thing to happen to Firefox... since Firefox," the AllPeers plugin promised to make file sharing between friends easy and efficient. At the same time, supporters of the service proclaimed that it would protect its users from lawsuits from the RIAA and MPAA due to its darknet architecture.
To give people a sampling of what this new tool can do, the team has published a virtual tour of the product. AllPeers is activated by clicking on a shortcut button that appears below the address bar in Firefox. This opens up a sidebar in the browser where the user can create groups of people (such as "Friends," "Family," and so forth) and add new contacts into these groups. Then, the user selects which files on their computer will be shared, and with which groups. The user interface is fairly straightforward, and makes it easy for other users to view shared files—they appear as large icons on the start page when the plugin is launched.
AllPeers uses the BitTorrent protocol to share files, so there is no central server for the company to manage. The application is free in its basic form, but AllPeers claims that the company will be offering additional paid services in order to create a working business model. The company received venture capital funding recently from two of the same firms that backed Skype. AllPeers is a privately held company based in Oxford, UK.
Like all new peer-to-peer utilities, the biggest problem facing AllPeers is getting a large enough base of users to make the service worthwhile for the general public. However, by taking the private sharing approach, AllPeers hopes that their application will spread quickly by word of mouth. While there are dozens of P2P apps all vying for attention and users, the AllPeers model actually appears to be solving a worthwhile problem. There are many occasions where friends of mine have wanted to share photos privately between our group, without necessarily allowing the entire Internet to view them. The options so far have been: e-mail, which is less than optimal due to attachment size limitations; photo sharing web sites such as Flikr, which tend to impose limits on the number of photos that can be shared and their maximum resolution; and posting them to a privately-run web site, which can be complicated and is not an option for most people. AllPeers could, if executed properly, squeeze in between these options to provide a useful service for people interested in file sharing without the hassle.
AllPeers MediaCenter runs on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Macintosh OS X and Linux. It is planned for release later today on the official Firefox Extensions web site.
[ Discuss ]
Copyright © 1998-2006 Ars Technica, LLC