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Show HN: Ensichat – Decentralized instant messenger for Android (github.com)
27 points by Nutomic on July 7, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments

I have to say a few months ago there were too many of such projects to get me excited any more. I don't mean to criticise just to state why I can't say much about it. Why not work with some of the other projects with decentralized chat?

There are a few similar projects, but they all have some differences (afaik):

Firechat [1]: closed source, only group chats, no crypto

Bluechat [2]: only group chats

Pinwheel Messenger [3]: only messages to direct neighbors (no routing)

In contrast, Ensichat is for 1 on 1 chats, uses mesh routing and signs+encrypts messages.

Are there any other, similar projects?

[1] http://firech.at/

[2] https://github.com/AlexKang/blue-chat

[3] https://github.com/n8fr8/gilgamesh

Please don't forget the Serval Project (http://www.servalproject.org/) that meshes over Wifi and does end-to-end encrypted voice, text and data transfers, has some serious backing (ie not a single developer on their free time), and is open source.

I think I like Wifi more because it allows true meshing on long distances, and the Serval project uses simple phones with the application as routers.

What I never really get is why meshing protocols not use any connection available. SMS, GSM, 3/4G, Wifi, Bluetooth, QRCode+Cam could also be used to sync chat histories to some degree. Being flexible about the path should have a huge impact on the resilience of a mesh network. Also using the option to 3/4G helps to overcome the beginning when few people use it.

Which was the one used in the Hong Kong demonstrations?

And if there's an app that misses a feature I would guess adding the feature should be less work than writing a completely new app that has all the features plus the new one. Especially 1-on-1 chat is a subproblem of n-on-n chat. Make a max 2 people "chat room" and you're done.

"No crypto" is a feature, btw. It's very very very unlikely that a small open source project can get the right talent to make a secure chat app. Also I'm no expert but it might be impossible technically, with how the App infrastructure is designed and the flash storage that can't delete data at all and can't predictably overwrite it. So if everybody who tries it fails you do your users a favour by not trying and openly telling them that it's not secure. Tell them to use a Laptop and PGP emails for these usecases.

Yep. Please don't fall into the NIH syndrome for an app that requires the network effect to work.

Bluetooth has a range of less than 100 meters, I don't really understand the use case for this.

Schools. Communication in a subway. Communication in a car. Encrypted conversation between two people in a public place. Etc.

Personally, I find this project really interesting.

Schools especially are a major use case. In particular middle school and high school students who have smartphone but no data plans - or highly restricted data plans - have flocked to mesh network messaging platforms. Witness the success of Jott (http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/08/messaging-app-jott-is-blowi...)

Also, events like concerts, festivals, conventions, demonstrations. Especially when the mobile network is overloaded.

Regarding range: Messages are forwarded by nodes, so with enough nodes, much more than 100 meters can be covered. And the upcoming LTE Direct [1] will have a range of ~500 meters.

[1] https://www.qualcomm.com/documents/lte-direct-trial-white-pa...

Ooh, it did not say that anywhere. That's great, can't wait to give it a try.

Do I get notified when my device has successfully forwarded something through a passer-by? That would motivate running it a lot and might be a nice viral effect.

With the density of smart devices I suspect I'm regularly within 100 meters of several 1000 people. Even a short trip on a highway adds up quickly, not to mention any urban areas, malls, or campuses.

Sadly the routing looks pretty simple. I was hoping for something that could give my local events like weather, road conditions, etc even when there's no network coverage.

Imagine if oncoming traffic could warn you about what you are going to hit in the next few miles?

Extending chat with audio would be great, smth. like push to talk.

I'm not sure if latency would be good enough for real time voice chat, but it would certainly be cool!

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