After a brief limited alpha testing period that started in July, BitTorrent is ready to give the public an appetizer of its decentralized, peer-to-peer messaging system. With BitTorrent Bleep, you can keep on talking to your friends and family without fear of being snooped on or having your private information harvested.
BitTorrent’s goals with Bleep are both ambitious and timely. Applying what it learned from its BitTorrent protocol, the company wants to create a messaging service that cuts out the middle man. The only time any form of third party computer is involved is in looking up two peers. After the two have connected, any data between them goes directly to one another and are only stored in their local devices. Taking a centralized server outside of the equation means there is no point in the communication path where third parties can snoop in. There is also no storage for entities to get your personal information, legally or otherwise.
Bleep is very much a work in progress but early adopters can already get the basic functionality, basically voice calls and text messaging, with a few caveats. First is that you can communicate with others who are also online. No voicemail or offline message features yet. While Bleep is available for both desktop and mobile platforms, and you can move your existing desktop account to an Android installation, you cannot do it the other way around, from mobile to desktop. Incoming messages are mirrored on all associated devices, but outgoing messages are not. And since this is still in alpha stage, more than just a few bugs can be expected.
Signing up is easy. You can use your email, mobile number or, if you really prefer total anonymity, use incognito mode. You can import your contacts from Google or invite others by sending them an SMS, email, QR Code or even using a public key. It is too early to say if this is a concept that will catch on with a public that is growing weary of violations of privacy and security. Experience, however, shows that users are usually uninterested with services that will require them to migrate away from or lose contact with their social circles. But considering how users commonly use multiple messaging services at the same time, Bleep might find it a bit easier to get accepted into mainstream consciousness.