By Mike Flacy
As reported by The Verge earlier today, a German company based out of Berlin has developed an application that allows Facebook friends to trade files up to 1GB in size directly from the browser window. The file transfer occurs in real-time through a peer-to-peer connection between two Facebook friends. All file transfers are encrypted with the 128-bit advanced encryption standard and data isn’t passed through Facebook or Pipe servers, thus there’s no record of the transfer. The speed at which the upload and download completes is completely dependent on the amount of bandwidth that’s available to each user. Similar to Napster, this type of technology would likely thrive on college campuses that provide large amounts of bandwidth to students.
In order to start using Pipe, a Facebook user only needs to install the application on their Facebook account. In the top left hand corner of the user interface, the user can click on their friend’s list and choose a person to receive a file. However, the friend that’s receiving the file also needs to be online and have the Pipe application open on their Web browser.
After a user drags and drops a file on the large green “Drop File Here” button within the interface, a window pops up allowing the user to customize a message to their friend prior to sending the file. On the receiving end, the friend will see a pop-up window appear and ask for authorization to accept the file. Once the transfer is authorized, both Pipe users can watch the progress of the file transfer in the form of a status bar filling up around the green button.
Within the settings, the user has the ability to block specific friends from attempting to send files. This could be useful if a friend is likely to send a malicious file or simply inundates a friend with unwanted transfers. There’s also a setting for audio notifications that can be turned on and off. Under the missed tab, a Pipe user can check out a list of files that a friend attempted to send while the user was offline or away from Facebook.
According to the company, the 1GB file size limit is based entirely on the amount of available memory in a user’s browser cache. Users that have several tabs open to browse the Web or watch Internet video will likely decrease the amount of memory available for a file transfer. Users that clear the browser cache and open up a fresh browser window from cold boot are likely to have the largest amount of available memory.
However, this memory size limitation will likely only be an issue for a small amount of users that are attempting to send between 500MB to 1GB of data in a single file. Alternatively, a user that simply want to transfer a single song or a document to a friend won’t run into this issue.
Pipe is currently in closed beta, but the company expects to open up to the public within the next few days according to the official site. The Facebook application can be found here and seems to be working already despite the closed beta status. The company is also developing standalone Pipe applications for Windows and Mac computers as well as mobile devices.