BitTorrent on Thursday announced Surf, a Chrome extension that lets you discover and download torrents directly in Google’s browser. The company says it also plans to release an add-on for Firefox soon, as well as for other browsers, but for now Chrome users can get an alpha version of the extension directly from the Chrome Web Store.

So what’s the point of having an extension instead of a dedicated torrent client? BitTorrent hopes that by adding a torrent search window directly into Chrome, it will be able to “advance and simplify content discovery and download” for a broader consumer base. In other words, it’s part of the company’s initiative to bring the BitTorrent protocol to the masses.

BitTorrent Surf is currently being made available as an “early Alpha” with the goal of gathering feedback from consumers looking for “simplified content discovery.” Here, this video explains it better:

So far, BitTorrent lists the following features:

  • Search: Quickly find torrents across multiple search sites, automatically detect search sites, and add your favorite sites to create a search custom engine.
  • Download: Get media from sites like the Internet Archive directly from your search results in one click, manage downloads and notifications from your browser while you surf, and use file health estimates to help you select the best quality media to download.
  • Play: Just push play.

The integrated search function allows for site auto-detection and has custom discovery built in. You can even save your favorite sites, and use them to create your own combined engine. The second point is rather self-explanatory.

bittorrent surf BitTorrent brings torrent discovery, downloading directly to the browser with Surf Chrome extension

That last one will be naturally be the key to getting Chrome users interested in the extension. BitTorrent claims “Surf is simply the most fluid and streamlined way to find, access and enjoy Internet content” but if it can’t play the content users discover and download, then it won’t get very far.

BitTorrent says Surf has been development for the past six months. We’ll keep you updated as the new Web client moves from alpha to final, and beyond.

Image credit: Slavik Gormah