[tor-project] Future of Tor Messenger

Arturo Filastò art at torproject.org
Thu Oct 26 16:28:02 UTC 2017

On 26 October 2017 at 14:02:53, isabela (isabela at torproject.org) wrote:
On 10/26/17 04:16, Arthur D. Edelstein wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 7:47 AM, Georg Koppen <gk at torproject.org> wrote:
> [snip]
>> 1) It should not be a desktop-only application. [snip] So, let's tear this
> desktop/mobile barrier down while thinking about the future.
>> 2) It should support onion service-based chat protocols. [snip]
> [1] The biggest desktop chat apps appear to be:
> - Slack, with ~9 million weekly users:
> (https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/slack-statistics/)
> - Discord, with ~9 million daily active users and 45 million
> registered users:
> https://venturebeat.com/2017/05/16/discords-game-voice-communications-app-hits-45-million-users/).
> Whereas the most popular mobile chat apps are apparently WhatsApp,
> Facebook Messenger, QQ Mobile, and WeChat with close to 1 billion
> users each: https://www.statista.com/statistics/258749/most-popular-global-mobile-messenger-apps/

1. If its a .onion chat - the connection to Tor will be there with Tor
Browser (and of course, one less app for folks to download)

2. If I am on this .onion chat and someone sends me a link (which
happens a lot) I will already have a browser that is safe for me to open
it. And this allow us to complete the user experience in a safe way.
[.. snip]

3. Might be easier to have it on mobile since we will work on browser
on mobile.
I think a lot of things have been suggested here, and while I think that all of them are great ideas, maybe it’s useful to try to re-focus on something that is achievable within the modest amount of effort that is currently available to dedicate to endeavour.

Let me elaborate.

I think that the mobile first approach is solid, mobile is also a very tricky platform to do well. As such I would maybe take into consideration the fact that you may eventually want to support mobile too, but not aim for mobile first.

The idea of creating a new chat system that is based on onion services (a la richochet) is also a great idea, though that particular market (that of walled garden IM apps, think Whatsapp, Signal, Viber, Telegram, etc.) and unless we are willing to invest serious resources we are likely to get small adoption.

A space that is instead very lacking, is that of good IM clients for existing protocols (think jabber, IRC, etc.). Most of the clients out there for IRC and jabber that are not for uber nerds suck.

So why not try to make an amazing IRC and jabber client?

I think that if you are to take this on, I would not based it on existing clients (because they all suck), but instead I would go for writing a desktop app from scratch, using technologies that can be easily adapted to support a mobile use case (ex. React and React-native).

A killer feature that I think would make this sort of thing truly stand out is the ability to run an IRC bouncer (and maybe jabber too) as a onion service.

It should be possible to deploy this IRC/Jabber bouncer very easily on your own server (or even your raspberry pi at home) so that you can be always online and preserve chat history.

To my knowledge there is no mainstream IM client for IRC and jabber that supports this type of bouncer deployment/operation (bitlbee doesn’t count, I mean something for end users).

What do you think?

~ Arturo
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