iTunes has been used for file swapping for quite a while. Apple originally made it possible for users to stream files from one computer to another over the internet. The company quickly moved to restrict this feature to local networks, and has since crippled it even further, limiting the maximum amount of connections to reduce campus file sharing.

Creative developers have been filling this gap with their own software. Programs like Ourtunes are making it possible to download files from any iTunes user in your local network. Software like Senuti power charges the good old sneaker net by transferring files from any iPod back to your computer.

A new OS X app called Mojo takes this concept one step further: The program helps to share iTunes libraries over the internet and allows to download any MP3 or AAC file from your buddies. Users can also connect within their local network via Bonjour and transfer complete albums in seconds. Mojo's interface looks just like the iTunes GUI, making it an ideal application for people who don't want to worry too much about the technical aspects of file swapping.

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New users need to sign up through the application with Mojo and then add their friends to their buddy list. Local users are added automatically. Double-click on any username in your buddy list, and an iTunes-like browser opens that gives you access to the user's complete library. You can stream and download any file and also browse every playlist.

mojo

The playlist access is great. It's unfortunate though that users can't offer select access. Not only are podcasts listed alongside regular MP3s, Mojo also lists any file that you might have stored away on an external hard disk that isn't connected to your computer right now. The app does keep track of your downloads though, greying out any song that you already have in your library.

Another neat feature is the ability to subscribe to remote playlists. Files are automatically downloaded as soon as the remote playlist is updated. Think of it as an automatically generated personal music podcast. This by the way is something I'd really like to see incorporated into Songbird. Maybe through a plug-in?

Mojo uses a Jabber server to connect to friends over the internet. The company currently uses their own server for this purpose, but there are plans to make it easier to use custom Jabber servers - a great option for folks who want to share their music in a more secure fashion. The application also makes use of NAT traversal to bypass firewalls, and the Mojo developers are sharing their knowledge about this process on their blog, which seems like a good resource for any developer working in this space.

Overall, Mojo looks like a really interesting application for Mac music lovers. There is some room for improvement when it comes to selective sharing of files. Still, the application is great for users who don't want to deal with more complicated and less secure file sharing networks, but just get some music recommendations from people they trust. I could actually see myself compiling custom playlists to make them available to my Mojo friends - especially since I could do this right within iTunes, with Mojo doing the heavy lifting in the background. Sweet.

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