It looks like more Google Android-powered smartphones and tablets will soon learn the same trick computers acquired back in the Napster days: P2P file sharing.
Maybe this time the “P” stands for “phone.” Unlike the countless Android apps that can remote-control a BitTorrent file-sharing client on the user’s computer, the reportedly upcoming µTorrent app (also known as uTorrent) runs on Android itself.
µTorrent (now a part of BitTorrent the company), whose CEO used to be Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, would be capable of something that the mobile version of Spotify is not: allowing smartphones to upload music to other smartphones over Wi-Fi or a wireless data connection, no computer required.
At least one other app claims to do the same, but uTorrent is incredibly popular, so users looking to exchange files without a computer would probably be more likely to try it than a relative unknown.
“Like any software company, we know a mobile experience is really important to our users,” an unidentified BitTorrent spokesperson told TorrentFreak. “At this point, we don’t yet have an ETA [for the uTorrent Android app].”
Android devices, with their relatively limited memory, might seem an odd choice for pirating content (or exchanging stuff that’s legal to exchange via P2P). But songs are small chunks of data relative to videos, and people often need them in a pinch. For instance, we’ve heard from DJs who use P2P to field requests on the fly (songs that are played in venues with licenses to play them, for that matter). For them, the chance to grab a single song every once in a while via Android might come in really handy. In addition, users who lack regular access to a PC might find uTorrent for Android appealing. For the rest of us, however, streaming via YouTube or any number of subscription services would be a handier option.
In addition, Android’s openness makes it a good candidate for P2P. Apple would never let an app like uTorrent onto iTunes, and Google, for that matter, will almost certainly bar uTorrent from its official Android app store too (the same way it did with Grooveshark). However, thanks to Android’s more open nature relative to other smartphone and tablet platforms, users of many of the devices will be able to install uTorrent, whenever it becomes available without having to “jailbreak” their phones.
What happens if hundreds of thousands of them fire it up around the same time on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and the rest? We can only assume some throttling would be in order. Still, it could be interesting to see how this plays out — and how that changes wireless carriers’ view of Google Android as opposed to Apple iOS and other closed app ecosystems.