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Mobile torrenting: how to manage and stream downloads from your phone

BitTorrent logo, with Windows, Mac, Linux and AndroidWhile exciting progress is being made in the realm of high-speed mobile data, it will be a long time indeed before wireless operators can catch up with wired bandwidth and ubiquity. For the time being, mass data transfer will be one of the few things that will stay within the realm of home and office computing, on DSL and Cable connections.

Still, just because you run your BitTorrent client on your desktop, laptop, or NAS, doesn't mean that you can't manage your torrents while on the move! If you see a poster for Pioneer One during your daily commute, you can whip out your smartphone and add the latest episode to your at-home torrent client.

And again, while it isn't wise to torrent on your smartphone, you can send a file from your PC to your phone; you can even stream a TV show, movie or song from home to your mobile device.

In this guide we'll cover Windows, Mac and Linux on the PC side of things, and Android, iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry, and Web apps on the mobile side. Let's jump in!


On your PC

Before you can log in and manage things remotely, you need to make sure that you have a BitTorrent client that will play ball with smartphone and Web apps.
  • Windows: uTorrent -- no surprises here. It's the best-supported and most feature-rich BitTorrent client out there.
  • Mac: Transmission or uTorrent -- if you opt for uTorrent, make sure you accept the automatic update to version 1.50 so that you can use uTorrent Web.
  • Linux: Transmission or rTorrent -- if you opt for rTorrent, you will need rTorrentWeb to use a Web control panel

On your smartphone or other mobile device

Transdroid for AndroidIf you have an Android phone, you're home free when it comes to managing torrents remotely. iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad are a little trickier because Apple refuses to allow torrent-related apps onto the App Store, but you can still use Web apps effectively.
  • Android: Transdroid -- this app links directly into your PC BitTorrent client using XML-RPC. You can use it to stop and start torrents, or even search your favorite torrent indexes while on the move -- read our full review for more info. At the time of publishing, it looks like the current version might not work with uTorrent for Mac; if you have trouble setting it up, use a Web app instead (see below for more info)
  • iOS: uTorrent Web or Transmission Web interface -- for some reason, no other mobile platform has a Transdroid-equivalent app. No matter, though: both uTorrent and Transmission have excellent Web interfaces. uTorrent's solution doesn't even require you to fiddle with port forwarding on your router!
  • Symbian, BlackBerry, and all other Web-connected devices -- the new uTorrent Web interface needs a modern Web browser, and at the time of writing it doesn't work with the Symbian browser. Still, don't worry, the Transmission Web interface should work for Mac and Linux users -- and Windows users can use uTorrent's older Web UI interface.

Streaming to your Android or iOS device

Air Video on iPhoneManaging torrents isn't the only thing you can do from a mobile device! With a bit of hacking you can stream TV shows, movies and music directly to your phone.

You should be warned that streaming can be tricky to set up, and it will of course bite into your mobile traffic allowance.
  • Windows (with Android): Orb -- with Orb you can share media -- video, audio and photos -- from a PC to any other computer via a Web interface. It can also stream directly to a media center, such as the Xbox 360 and PS3. There are iPhone and Android apps, but they cost $9.99 (and they have some bad reviews, too). Orb can even link into your iTunes library, which is very cool. Once it's installed, you might need to set up port forwarding.
  • Windows and Mac (with iPhone, iPod or iPad): Air Video -- iOS users are lucky enough to have the rather slick Air Video server and app combo. The app costs $2.99, but it's well worth the money. If you want to stream audio and images, Orb also works on Mac, but it's a lot less smooth. Again, you might need to set up port forwarding to get Air Video to work.
  • Linux (with iPhone, iPod or iPad: Air Video (via Wine) -- there are probably a few ways to stream video from Linux to a smartphone, but one of the easiest options is to simply run Air Video under Wine. If you want to stream audio, Subsonic is a Java app that works on Linux (and indeed, Windows and Mac, too.)
As you've probably noticed, streaming to your smartphone might be a little more difficult than you'd expected. In reality, you should probably just transfer your torrented media to your phone overnight, so that it's ready to go in the morning!

If you know of any neat tips and tricks for managing your torrents on the move, tell us in the comments!

Tags: air video, AirVideo, android, audio, features, images, ios, ipad, iphone, ipod touch, IpodTouch, media, media sharing, media streaming, MediaSharing, MediaStreaming, mobile, orb, rtorrent, streaming, symbian, torrent, torrenting, transdroid, transmission, utorrent, video, wine

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