A file-transfer service will be launching for Facebook via a third-party app named Pipe, which will handle up to 1GB files for free.
The app has been in beta for a year now, with an invitation-only userbase whilst developers ironed out bugs with the software and completed an initial rounding of funding.
The service works primarily in real time, with both the sender and recipient logging into the app. The sender then drags and drops whatever they wish to send onto an image of a pipe (bearing a striking resemblance to those found in the Super Mario franchise) and the file is sent via a peer-to-peer (P2P) connection.
This P2P architecture means that neither Facebook nor Pipe will be able to snoop on the contest of the file. If the recipient isn’t online when the file is sent then it will be stored for 5 days before being removed from the system.
Whilst P2P transfers can go up to a hefty 1GB, the max size for file-waiting exchanges is only 100MB per contact.
Speaking to GigaOM Pipe CEO Simon Hossell said that he didn’t intend the service to challenge file-transfer via Dropbox and email, but it’s difficult to see how Pipe won’t affect the usage of these services.
From tomorrow Pipe will be available for desktops, though Hossell has said an iOS version is waiting in the wings, and an Android app should follow soon after.
With its ability to take advantage of Facebook’s extensive network, it seems that Pipe will certainly be successful, though how the concept will be monetized is less clear. Most likely a system of premium accounts will be introduced, with users paying for larger transfer sizes and longer storage.
See below for a video demonstrating Pipe: