From its humble beginnings more than 11 years ago, BitTorrent has turned into one of the main generators of Internet traffic. Shifting hundreds of petabytes of data across cyberspace every day, torrents have become a daily activity for millions of people.
The protocol’s most popular client, uTorrent, currently facilitates the file transfers of more than 125 million active users and remains the weapon of choice for many advanced torrent fans.
However, BitTorrent Inc.’s flagship client now has a little brother that can be installed with a couple of clicks and is ideal for both advanced users in a rush and those stepping out into the torrent world for the first time.
BitTorrent Surf is currently an extension for the Chrome web browser although Mozilla fans can relax since a Firefox version is reportedly on the way. Available from the Chrome webstore, BitTorrent Surf integrates a torrent client and torrent search directly into the browser, one that requires little to no setup and hides all the complicated stuff away.
Once installed with a single click, BitTorrent Surf adds a round blue button to the top right hand corner of Chrome and with a click the tool is activated. Simply type the name of the material required into the box and the client goes off and does its own search and returns the results.
A single click on one of the green arrows will download a .torrent file and start the transfer of the chosen material straightaway, dumping the contents into Chrome’s default download folder. But we can do a little better than that.
Straight out of the box BitTorrent Surf only pulls torrents from Google and the Internet Archive but most major search engines and indexes can be added with ease. Simply click the “Search Settings” button followed by “Add Site from URL”, then enter the web address of your favorite public torrent index.
We added most of the sites from our latest Top 10 list with the exception of Torrentz and EZTV which were rejected, probably due to the way they’re set up. If in doubt, click the ‘Notifications’ button after your actions to check for problems. Once entered, the selected torrent indexes can be switched on or off at will.
While basic information alone is fine if a user doesn’t care about seeing all the extra bells and whistles, there are always a few extra details that one needs in order to make a good choice about which torrent to jump on. BitTorrent Surf solves this problem with the signal graphic placed directly to the left of the download button on each torrent. Simply hover over these once the torrents appear in the search and the health of the torrent will be revealed.
“We created BitTorrent Surf to meet the needs of new and novice users looking for a simpler torrenting experience, by seamlessly combining the interaction of search and download. Market research and user testing proved to us there was a real need for new web-based ways to use BitTorrent,” David Hilborn, Product Manager for BitTorrent Surf, told TorrentFreak.
“Everywhere you look in the digital space, there is new demand for a technology that can faster facilitate the rapid transfer of large files. From the Ultra HD / 4k TVs on display at CES this week, to the amount of HD video and photography we’re making with our phones and tablets, there’s never been more demand for a protocol like BitTorrent.”
Matt Mason, VP of Marketing at BitTorrent Inc., says that the cut-down Surf client takes torrents back to their roots.
“We created BitTorrent Surf for the same reason Bram originally created BitTorrent, as an efficient way to move large, rich media across the Internet. HTTP falls short on this front and the Internet needs this,” Mason explains.
“Surf represents the continuing evolution of that story, and we continue to work with our users, CE partners, content creators and other technology companies to deliver distributed products that make the Internet a better place to be for all of us.”
All in all, Surf is a nice addition to the uTorrent/BitTorrent family, especially for novices and those who prefer to grab a quick download without firing up a full torrent client. Currently in Alpha, Surf will clearly undergo improvements before it becomes a fully-finished product.