Tech

Matrix protocol tries to break down walls between messaging apps

Why is it important: Keeping in touch with friends and family through messaging services usually means staying where everyone else is or switching between multiple clients like iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger or others. For years, the Matrix.org Foundation has been trying to create an alternative environment that allows different clients to interact.

Non-profit organization that develops Matrix aims to provide an open messaging standard that other groups can use to build a communications infrastructure. Some government agencies and other organizations have already begun using the protocol to build custom messaging applications, which offers advantages over the mainstream tech giants.

Users of any Matrix-based messaging service can potentially communicate with users of other Matrix-based clients. This openness can allow people to stick with the software they prefer, rather than the one that all their friends are on.

The developers compare their project to email, which initially did not allow sending messages between different services. The foundation wants messaging apps to be as compatible as Gmail and Microsoft Outlook.

Flagship application powered by Matrix – Element – illustrates another advantage of the protocol: anyone who sets up networks through Element can install their own chat servers without cutting themselves off from other Matrix-based services. This allows companies and other organizations to easily create internal chat systems without relying on established giants like Slack, Discord, WhatsApp or others to manage their data. The German military and national healthcare systems have already used Matrix for develop independent messaging systems compatible with others.

The goals of Matrix also align with those of the recently adopted Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the European Union. In addition to trying to soften the barriers between the walled gardens of big technology, the EU has developed DMA to encourage interoperability between services.

One result of the regulation is that smaller upstart services will not be completely blocked from user bases blocked by larger established players. The Matrix Protocol could be the way to achievement the purpose of DMA in relation to messaging services.

Until now, Matrix has allowed groups to create new chat clients that can communicate with each other, but implementing this functionality in popular services is a little more difficult. The fund has invented multiple messaging methods between platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Discord and LinkedIn. One of them involves the delivery of messages from one platform to another using bots, and the other may allow users to “dual puppet” accounts on two different clients.


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