uTorrent has come a long way since it first saw the light of day in the fall of 2005. What started out as a minimalist and no-nonsense client targeted at an already BitTorrent-savvy crowd, has slowly become an application that does far more than downloading alone.
During the past year many new features have been announced and tested, and nearly all of these are included in today’s first stable release of uTorrent 3.0.
The release introduces a wide range of new features and improvements that have been extensively tested over the past several months. With these additions, uTorrent parent company BitTorrent Inc. hopes that their flagship client will appeal to an even larger audience.
A new feature we already discussed when it was first added to the beta release is the option to rate and comment on torrent files. True to BitTorrent’s nature, this data is not hosted on a central server somewhere, but among downloaders.
All comments and ratings associated with a particular file are shared among members of that swarm. If another peer has a comment that you don’t have already, it will send it to you, and vice versa. The messages are sent through the tracker and don’t rely on DHT, which means they work on private torrent files too.
uTorrent comments and ratings
Together, the comments and star ratings are supposed to give downloaders information on the quality of the various files they’re downloading. And there are more ways to get social with uTorrent 3.0, the new uChat app for example.
With uChat users can create both private and public chat rooms to discuss file-sharing related issues and more. The new app also allows users to add buddies and to share files quickly by generating magnet links. Again, this is all supported by decentralized technology and no data is stored on a central server.
Besides the chatty additions, uTorrent 3.0 also has many other interesting capabilities. The option to stream video before the download finishes is one of the features now added to the core uTorrent functionality. Streaming can be used to preview video files or to watch while downloading.
And then there’s the user interface which has been revamped completely. Among other things a “simplified view” has been added, allowing users to minimize parts of the uTorrent interface to focus attention on the most essential client features. This should make uTorrent less ‘overwhelming’ to novices, who now often drop out because it looks too complex.
Other new features to keep novices on board are the “getting started” guides that now have a prominent placement in the client. Here, newcomers can find a beginner’s guide, tutorial videos and other tips and tricks to master BitTorrent quickly.
And that’s not all. Thanks to drag and drop sharing, creating and sharing torrents with uTorrent has never been easier.
Users will notice a “drop files to send” area in the bottom left-hand corner where they can drop files into. uTorrent will then automatically create the torrent and start seeding. Users can then get a link to share the torrent with their friends directly. Friends who don’t have uTorrent installed yet get the option to download the torrent bundled with a copy of uTorrent.
uTorrent 3.0’s new features (large)
For BitTorrent-savvy users the new uTorrent also has plenty of new features in store. Aside from comments and ratings, uTorrent 3.0 also adds remote access to the core functionality. This means that people can securely control their torrents from smartphones and other devices. In addition, uTorrent now has a portable mode so users can carry it conveniently on a USB-stick.
Some users worry that some of these changes will bloat their favorite BitTorrent client, but uTorrent’s makers contest this and say they are dedicated to keeping uTorrent as light as possible.
“µTorrent’s popularity lies in its simplicity and power. As a result, we’re very selective in the features and apps we add, focusing on maintaining the lightness and speed our community expects,” Jordy Berson, uTorrent’s director of product management at BitTorrent Inc. said commenting on the new release.
Of course we’re also interested in the opinion of uTorrent users themselves also. What do you think? What are the best new features? Is there something you don’t like? Feel free to discuss below.