I have been saying this for years we need either,
- One messenger that everyone uses, which will never happen!! (For more info search for the Network effect/ Critical mass. )
- A Contacts-based messenger app. All chats from one contact, no matter the platform, will end up in one hub under their name.
- In the worst case scenario, at least we need a messaging app that combines all the different platforms.
Once upon a time Disa was able to integrate WhatsApp and that was the best option, but alas that is a long-dead project. Besides that, I haven’t seen anything that can integrate WhatsApp into their app, although this may change with the new WhatsApp device multi beta.
Welcome to Beeper.
Beeper attempts to merge all chat platforms into one app.So first off, let’s start with the basic architecture of what they are doing. This will help us understand its limitations on a technical level, as well as provide an appreciation for what a feat of engineering this is.Beeper is built on the Matrix Standard.
So what is Matrix?
Matrix was a platfrom built after XMPP essentially died . Its a open network for secure decentralized communication. It offers a federated open spec E2E encrypted platform.Bridging allows your two chat networks to merge. If you have a discord server and a matrix room both can communicate freely, back and forth.For more information on Matrix here is a great video to watch
So now, back to the Beeper. Beeper has open-sourced its bridges so you can self-host your own matrix server, if you want.However, for this article, I have been using their hosted version.
|Beeper offers the following bridges:||With these coming soon|
Android Messages (SMS)
So now that we have the underlying platform understood lets dig in to Beeper.
So can beeper truly replace all these apps?
No! At least not in its current state.Basic features are there in most apps,until you dig a bit further and then find these problems.Here is a list of them divided by priority.
- You cannot start a new chat with a new person or group. Which is incredibly frustrating.Whatsapp won’t work unless you log in every set amount of days.
- Facebook frequently marks you as an unknown login and actually had me change my password multiple times in a month due to suspicious activity.
- For instance, Telegram chats cannot be searched. As someone who uses Telegram in their workplace with many people, this is crucial.
- Native things like sorting by file type or links doesn’t work.
- A better notification management system
- An integrated download manager.
- A way to set “per chat” preferences on push or pull of messages for better battery or faster response time.
- Better integration with the camera and file picker on Android, as it has glitched out on me multiple times.
- Theming support especially with material U on A12.
- Whatsapp Business integration
- Email integration
The way I see it now
Beeper has potential, but unfortunately, I would give its chance of success a 20 percent and its chance of failure an 80 percent. To be successful, they have to figure out a way to be able to be freed from the native client. If I need the apps installed on my phone and it’s a glorified notification management system, then it’s useless. They would have to come up with a super creative way to implement encrypted search, and also figure out how to not be flagged by the company’s security policy (mostly Facebook as far as I can tell).
Not The saviour we Hoped For
I would have loved this to be the savior of my messaging woes but sadly I don’t see it now, or ever, being that. As said at the start, this would take a technological feat, even in its current state. Sadly, it’s more of a sysadmins pet project than an actual solution. Also, since these chat apps can change the API on a whim, the long term operation of this platform would seem to require immense upkeep, which I dont think even $10 a month would cover.
If it could actually do what it set out to do, I would gladly pay $10 a month, and perhaps more. But, in its current state, it’s a tough call to push users to it even as a free platform.
“hey Facebook would you participate in a program which would increase the usability of your competitors’ platforms”
How do you think that’s gonna go lol