Mobile P2P has been the subject of much speculation over the years. People were supposed to swap video clips straight from phone to phone, surrounding themselves with mobile sharing clouds and downloading movies and TV shows on the go with the speed of BitTorrent.
Not a whole lot of that has ever materialized. Take the iPhone for example. Sure, you can watch movies on the device, but you can’t swap them, thanks to Apple’s ban of third-party apps.
But the fact that you can’t install any code on the iPhone doesn’t stop true P2P aficionados . A web app to be unveiled tomorrow will allow users to turn their iPhone — or any mobile phone with a browser for that matter — into a remote control for the popular Windows BitTorrent client µTorrent.
Web-based user interfaces for BitTorrent clients have been around for a while. They offer the ability to control a client remotely from a second machine — something that comes in handy if you use your home PC for downloads, but want to start them from the office. µTorrent has a very feature-rich and well-designed web interface that resembles the UI of the original client.
The µTorrent mobile UI ditches most of these bells and whistles for a plain-text view of the most important µTorrent functions. Users can start, pause, stop and monitor downloads. The UI also offers some additional information about every Torrent. Users can access some basic µTorrent preferences as well.
µTorrent mUI was programmed by a Norwegian µTorrent enthusiast who goes by the moniker Mofle. He tells me that he developed the application for personal use and only later decided to make it public. He’s thinking about adding some graphics later on, but his first priority was to optimize the the UI for handheld screens.
The mobile experience was also the main reason for him to implement the mobile UI as a web app. “It had to be done in PHP to work on every mobile,” Mofle tells me. Mobile Java apps would only run on a certain number of smart phones and leave users of iPhones and other locked-down devices in the cold.
The µTorrent mUI does not only run on the iPhone Webkit browser, but also on Opera Mobile, which is the browser of choice for the Nokias of the world. Mofle isn’t too worried about privacy concerns in connection with the web app: “I’m giving out a free service for people. They can use it or not.”
Granted, the µTorrent mUI still has a lot of room for improvement. It doesn’t offer any abilities to add torrents on the go, and you can’t preview any of the content you download — something that other mobile P2P applications have been offering for years. But it’s a universal web app — and that means it’s as close as you can get to downloading the latest movie Torrents with your iPhone.