File Transfers Arrive On Facebook Via Pipe App
June 5, 2013

File Transfers Arrive On Facebook Via Pipe App

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Facebookers have long been able to reconnect with old flames and lost friends, chat with their favorite businesses and even vie for a new job on the social networking site. Now a Berlin startup is letting these users do something very interesting through Facebook – share files.

Pipe is a peer-to-peer Facebook app which supports dead-simple file sharing between two Facebook users. While the idea of being able to drag and drop a file from your desktop and send it to a friend – through Facebook of all things – is interesting enough, Pipe goes one step further by supporting transfers of files up to one gigabyte. While other means to share files with friends exist, few allow such large transfers in such an easy manner. As novel an idea as this is, it still begs the question; Are we in need of any more file sharing options?

There are those who believe smartphones and tablets have all but eliminated the need for files. After all, if we´re sharing anything, it´s likely a photo (which can be sent via email, text message or Facebook) or a song, sent through a Spotify or YouTube link.

There are still others, of course, who believe that those who want to share a file with a friend (as rare as those occasions might be) have plenty of options at their disposal. There´s the old-school method of email, though it should be noted files sent this way are often capped around 100 MB. File sharers can also make use of Dropbox, an easy and nearly ubiquitous tool amongst this set these days. Apple has also tackled this problem with Air Drop, a similar drag-and-drop sharing service which transmits files from one computer to another on the same network.

In an interview with Mashable, Simon Howell, CEO of Pipe, said he believes Facebook is ripe for opportunity for his app.

"There are more than a billion users on Facebook and there is no easy solution to transfer a file from one person to another," said Howell. "We have taken a function such as attaching a file and turned it into something anyone can use – without ever leaving Facebook. It's secure and private, and we're confident it will catch on and spread fast."

Larger files can be transferred via Dropbox, of course, but not everyone has a Dropbox account. Facebook is known as the one place online where nearly every human in the developed world can be found. Therefore creating an app for the site just made sense to the founders of Pipe. It solves a problem and meets its users right where they are without asking them to jump through any additional hoops.

The idea of a peer-to-peer file-sharing app on Facebook certainly sounds devious enough, however. The social behemoth has been accused before of bungling their privacy policies and overstepping their boundaries in terms of private data. Realizing this reputation, Pipe makes a point to mention that its service is only hosted on Facebook; the files shared are only passed between computers and do not stop at Facebook´s servers along the way.

Sending a file via Pipe really is easy, though both sides of the file transfer must first have the app installed. Once this step is complete, the sender chooses which file he/she wants to share and who to share it with. Then the user selects the file and drags it on to a Mario-inspired pipe in the app. The computers connect and the file is transmitted, simple as that. If the recipient of the file isn´t online, it is stored on a secure server until that person logs on to Facebook again. These lockers can only hold 100 MB, however, so both parties must be online if a larger file needs to be shared.

Pipe is available now for the desktop; though, Howell says, mobile versions of the app will be released “a little later.”