Pipe, the one-to-one file transfer app for Facebook, has finally launched.
Last time we looked at Pipe, it was just going into beta. The app uses Adobe technology to set up direct peer-to-peer transfer connections from within the social network, and it has plans to branch out to other platforms too, including mobile. And, as of Tuesday, it’s available for you to use… as long as you have an invitation.
Luckily, GigaOM readers have their own block of 5,000 invitations waiting for them here.
To recap, here’s how it works: once you’ve installed the Facebook app, you can use it to send even large files to any of your friends who’re online and logged into the social network. Your friends don’t need to already be using Pipe — sending them something will prompt them to install the app themselves, and they don’t need an invitation code.
Here’s their promo video:
What’s that you say? Facebook’s already introduced its own file transfer service? Well, kind of. It’s only been rolled out to groups, it’s asynchronous (i.e. the files are stored on Facebook’s servers rather than being transferred in realtime between browsers) and it’s one-to-many, not one-to-one like Pipe. Basically, that’s a file sharing service (my, how times have changed).
But what if Facebook were to extend this sort of functionality to individual users?
“We’ll see first of all whether they do that,” Pipe CEO Simon Hossell told me. “Facebook right now is focused on being a platform and offering it to app developers. I would question the surmise that they’d do the same thing — we’re anticipating Facebook would be happy they have this app developed by a third party.”
Hossell said the beta process that was running since we last spoke had been very productive: “Classic things like bugfixing, understanding the effect of communication, and how people respond to messages and instructions.”
Some of the technical challenges that presented themselves required a bit of head-scratching. There were problems with tunnelling through network configurations, firewalls and the like, but Hossell said these had now been overcome.
“We also realised that if you weren’t behind one of these secure networks but one of your friends was, we had to solve it for everybody,” he added.
Although it’s a simple proposition, the version of Pipe that’s out now still could use a couple of extra features — such as the ability to send something to someone who’s not online at the time.
“We’ve had some requests to give some thought about how we might tackle being able to send a message to someone who’s offline – store-and-forward type of functionality,” Hossell said.
“That’s something in the pipeline.” Boom boom.