There are more and more convinced that another web is possible. A decentralized network, based on open protocols and where the rules are not imposed directly by the companies that own the different applications. Some examples are Mastodon or Telegram. Now we want to talk about matrixa protocol that has doubled its use in the past year and already has more than 80 million users.
The decentralization of messaging applications. While Mastodon (ActivityPub) is a decentralized protocol for social networks, in the case of Matrix we are talking about an alternative to private messaging applications, from the most traditional ones like WhatsApp to group ones and dedicated to work environments like Slack or Teams.
Matrix is an open standard for decentralized real-time communications. It is licensed under the Apache license, came out of beta in 2019, and is maintained by a non-profit organization, the Matrix Foundationcreated by different academics from the University of Cambridge.
With the support of Automattic, Notion, Mozilla and Reddit. Its origins date back to 2014, when Matthew Hodgson Y amandine le pape they created the company New Vector, to try to rival Slack. The project evolved and later the foundation arrived.
The fact that the protocol is open does not imply that there is no commercial aspect. This is where it comes into play elements, the application that makes use of the Matrix protocol. In July 2021, the company secured a series B of 30 million dollarswhere companies such as Protocol Labs, Automattic or Notion participated.
By the Matrix protocol itself, TechCrunch explains that from Reddit they are testing to implement Matrix as the protocol of their own chat. Also organizations like Mozilla or the national health system of germany They have begun their transition to the Matrix.
In search of the dream interoperability. Matrix offers a SDKs and APIs to create chat rooms, bots and encrypted messaging. Also sending files, synchronized conversation history between devices and VoIP video calls. In other words, practically all the functions offered today by the most modern messaging applications.
The final result will depend on the interface used and the company that makes use of this protocol, but the basis on which it works covers the use of most of the things that users may need.
But if there is an advantage of betting on a decentralized protocol, it is the fact of achieving the long-awaited interoperability between the different applications. Nowadays, if we have a message in Slack we can’t see it from Teams. Or if we have a list of files in Telegram, we cannot export it directly to WhatsApp. Although progress has been made, the various applications remain incompatible.
With decentralized protocols, the different applications are only an interface, but the structure is common. This allows, for example, that we can gather in the same place the messages of all the applications that work on Matrix, and even the rest. It is what it offers Element via Onea subscription of five dollars a month where you can integrate messages from WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal and in addition to all the apps that use Matrix in the same place.
Not surprisingly, the European Union itself forces large companies to offer interoperability between their services. It’s hard to believe that a decentralized protocol like Matrix is suddenly going to be openly adopted by everyone, but it does provide a good benchmark for how to make messaging interoperable.
Elements, the best Matrix implementation. About Matrix we have applications like Wechat, quaternion, nheko either fractal, but in practice if we want to test this protocol we will opt for Elements. It is the most complete application, as well as being designed by the same creators of the protocol.
Elements is available through the webWhat desktop client and also for iOS Y Android. And the truth is that it works great. It’s like a clone of Slack, with its voice, video, and encrypted messaging features. Being based on Matrix, Element allows it to adapt to each company and for it to own the data that is used. Unlike in Microsoft Teams or Slack, where these companies are the ones that ultimately own it.
In small work teams it may not matter, but Matrix has already managed to convince government organizations and big companies like the Deutsche Bahn, Audi or Continental. In this case, not through Elements, but through Rocket.Chat, an open app that used its own system and decided to switch to Matrix.