Limewire is going to officially release version 5.2 of its file sharing client later today. One of the new features is an advanced integration with Facebook that makes it possible to share files with any of your Facebook friends - as long as they also use Limewire, that is.

limewire facebook integration

Limewire introduced the concept of private sharing with the release of version 5.0 last fall, which made it possible to connect to friends via Google Talk or other Jabber services and selectively share files with them.

The new version adds an option to log in with your Facebook credentials and access your Facebook friends list. You can browse your friends' files in case they're running Limewire as well, or simply chat with them if they're logged into the Facebook website and you're trying to get them to fire up Limewire.

Integrating Facebook with Limewire is interesting, especially since this is very much an idea that the Facebook founders at some point had themselves. Facebook launched its own file sharing client, dubbed Wirehog, in 2004. Wirhog allowed users to share files with friends, much like Limewire does now. Facebook shut down the service in early 2006, probably at the request of investors who were worried about copyright infringement lawsuits.

Facebook integration isn't the only new feature of Limewire 5.2. The client also features an improved Bittorrent integration based on the libtorrent library and a slightly revamped interface.

The most significant change is probably that the side bar listing all of your contacts is gone. I had a chance to talk to Limewire's product manager Nathan Lovejoy a couple weeks ago about these changes, and he told me that the company realized that it should not compete with existing IM clients or buddy lists. The goal was instead to make friends a more integral part of the application as a whole. Search for something, and you friend's files will automatically be searched as well.

private sharing in limewire 5.2

Limwire also redesigned the process of sharing files itself, which is now much closer to an iTunes library and playlist experience. The client offers by default three lists of files in its sidebar: "Library" lists all your files, "Public Shared" are all the files that you're sharing with the whole P2P network, and "Private Shared" are, you guessed it, files that are shared with only a few select friends. You can always add your own lists to selectively share pictures with family members or office files with co-workers.

Limewire got previously criticized for making it too easy to accidentally share files with the world, but version 5.2 seems to be pretty much fool-proof. There's no button anymore to share files in bulk. Instead, you'd need to either drag them all to your Public Shared list or mark them and enable public sharing with a right-click on the appropriate option.

Of course, there's always room for improvement, and one of the features I'd like to see from future versions is the ability to log into multiple accounts at the same time so that I can share files with contacts on Facebook as well as Google Talk.

It will also be interesting to see what kinds of services Limewire will be adding next. Twitter maybe? That could be a tough one, because the social dynamics on Twitter are fundamentally different than on Facebook or other social networks. Do you want to share files with all of your followers, the people you follow, or everyone? Tough questions, but I'm sure someone at Limewire is already trying to find answers.

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