You may remember a few weeks ago that we got very excited about a swish new free and open source app called Popcorn Time, which provided a fantastically easy-to-use interface for smoothly streaming high quality videos from the popular video ripping torrent site YTS.
As we predicted at the time, this really set the cat among the pigeons and, presumably faced with intense legal pressure from anti-piracy groups, hosting website Mega soon after deleted the files from its servers, and Argentinian developer Sebastian decided to abandon the project. Torrent site YTS talked about taking up the Popcorn Time torch, but this idea too was abandoned. The result was that early downloaders of the app found it unable to connect to the YTS library.
However as we also predicted, since Popcorn Time is open source and the code has already been released ‘into the wild’, is has not taken long for others to develop their own versions of this game-changing program. In fact, two versions now emerged…
The developers of this fork (available here) have very much gone for reproducing the look and feel of the original, although they told TorrentFreak that version 3.0, due out in a couple of weeks, will have a new user interface and (contrary to what is said on the website’s FAQ), support Chromecast. Multi-tracker sourcing (not just from YTS) will also be supported, and it will be download movies for later viewing. This fork is available for Windows 7+, OSX 10.6+, and Linux 32-bit and 64-bit.
A developer told TorrentFreak that,
‘Our project started right after the original devs abandoned their project. I happened to be working on a new feature on a fork at that moment. When the devs closed their project, people started asking what should be happening and I pointed them to my repository where I was working on fixing everything. I end up being the most-used fork after a few hours.’
Another developer joined the team but,
‘A few days ago… the other developer went missing, the main repository and its website were shutdown as well. So I then set up a new organization (popcorn-org) and a new website (popcorn-time.tv) to keep going. In the general picture I would say we fit as the original Popcorn Time continuation. We haven’t added many features yet since we are working on getting everything more stable and usable by everyone. TV series and more are planned for the next month.
Time 4 Popcorn
The Time 4 Popcorn fork uses a similar website layout to the original, but it is more stripped down, and the app supports slightly different versions of OSX and Windows – OSX 10.7+, and Windows XP+. Plus, the developers are working on an Android version of the app (hopefully to be released in the next two weeks).
The developers told TorrentFreak that they own large file-sharing sites with millions of visitors a day, and that their experience should allow them to ensure Popcorn Time remains available ‘forever’.
Unlike the Popcorn-Time.tv fork, Time 4 Popcorn is not currently open source, but this will change once the mobile version is released.
As far as future plans are concerned, in addition to the developing the Android app,
‘We will also publish our brand new release of the desktop version that will include seeding of the downloaded torrent (the current version does not seed the torrent!), a much faster torrent client and a new video player that will give us the ability to show not only MP4 videos, but all kinds of video formats that will increase the amounts of available torrents.’
There are some minor cosmetic differences in the app from that of the Popcorn-Time.tv fork, but the biggest change is that there is no option to stream movies in different resolutions (the Popcorn-Time.tv fork allows 720p or 1080p), or whether to stream in 2D or 3D (a problem if only the 3D version is available and you don’t have a 3D capable TV). Still, we are sure these are issues that will soon be tackled.
Popcorn Time is a very exciting app that is set to revolutionize movie and TV downloading, both legal and illegal. Much as they might not like it, movie studios are not going to be able to just shuffle this ‘Neflix for pirates’ under the carpet (as these new forks of the app demonstrate), and are going to have to face a new world in which to profit they will have to change the proprietary way in they currently approach copyright issues.
As to which app to choose, at present the Popcorn-Time.tv fork seems to have the edge thanks to the fact that you can choose at which resolution to stream movies, but in general (and despite both being at beta stage) both work well, and both are free. The original code is open source so other versions may appear, or these forks may merge. Whatever happens, we look forward to developments with baited breath!
Remember that as these apps use BitTorrent technology to do their magic, it is easy to for copyright enforcers to track who is watching movies using them, so unless you live in an area where downloading copyrighted material is legal (for example the Netherlands or Switzerland), it is vital to protect yourself using VPN, so be sure to check out our article on 5 Best VPNs for Popcorn Time!