BitTorrent is as popular, if not even more so, than ever. You’re probably familiar with the idea of using torrent to quickly download large files, even if this is not something you choose to indulge in.
uTorrent for Android enables you to make the move from desktop torrenting to mobile torrenting. The app is currently in beta so I thought I’d take a quick look to see how things are shaping up. The desktop version of uTorrent is my default client, so I was intrigued to see how it compares.
Any review or article that looks at torrent clients tends to avoid the elephant in the room, so let’s address that straight away. The BitTorrent network is used to download lots of things – films, software, music – illegally. It’s fair to say that the vast majority of the content acquired using torrents is illegal, but BitTorrent can be used for far less shady practices, with the oft cited example of downloading Linux distros being a popular way of demonstrating that legitimate content is also available.
There is an impressive number of torrent clients available for desktop platforms, but they are somewhat thinner on the ground for mobile devices. uTorrent has proved itself to be one of the most popular client — whether this is because or in spite of its acquisition by BitTorrent — and if you have fallen in love with the way the app lets you manage torrents on your Mac or PC, you can now do the same on your Android device.
Adding and Managing Torrents
As this is beta software, you would be right to expect the app to be imperfect. This is certainly visible from the get-go with the strange way that search has been implemented. When you perform a torrent search within uTorrent, results are displayed in your web browser. Basically, uTorrent performing a Google search on your behalf but you could save yourself a step and jump straight to the browser yourself.
Click a torrent download link and uTorrent will spring into action, asking where you would like to save the file. After selecting a location the download will start immediately and you’ll see a familiar progress bar along with details of the file transfer rate
Tapping an active download reveals a popup that can be used to pause and start downloads, remove those that are finished or you have changed your mind about, and view the files included. You can also use the three tabs at the top of the screen to filter torrents by those that are completed, currently downloading, or simply view them all.
Accessing Other Content
One of the easiest ways to access legal content in the app is to take advantage of the BitTorrent Featured Content section where you can view highlighted bands and artists who have made tracks available for free.
You can also add RSS feeds to this screen, making it easy to keep track of the sites you follow that release torrents on a regular basis. This is one of the best implemented sections of the app, but you are forced to perform manual updates to check for new content
The idea of torrenting on an Android device is a little odd. The limited storage space that most devices have means that you’re not going to be downloading massive files, which is pretty much the point of using torrents in the first place – of course, there are plenty of APK files waiting to be illegally downloaded as well, but this is obviously not something that can be condoned.
Storage aside, a large proportion of Android devices are mobile phones which means that in addition to a WiFi connection they can also make use of cellular data networks. Unless you have a particularly generous or forgiving tariff, downloading via BitTorrent using your data allowance is not something you’re likely to be keen on doing. As such, it is a little odd that there is no option to restrict downloads to WiFi only.
You can limit download and upload speed and choose whether uTorrent should run automatically when you switch on your device, but that is about all you have available.
Also, despite the fact that there is the separate uTorrent Remote app available, it’s a shame that the utorrent client does not also include the ability to control torrents you have running on your Mac or PC. This would be a very handy option, so hopefully it will be incorporated as development progresses.
As it is, uTorrent still has some way to go before final release. It’s an interesting but somewhat limited torrent client with few options and the potential to land you with a hefty data bill.