Matrix for the masses platform Element One goes live: $5 a month with WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram bridges

New package aimed at consumers

Element, which makes Matrix-based communications and collaboration tools, has launched a consumer-oriented version of its messaging platform, complete with bridges for WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram.

The firm's Matrix Services (EMS) has been the acceptable corporate face of the Matrix network for some time now, charging customers reluctant to roll their own open source a fee for its wares. Over the months it has introduced supported bridging tech to allow enterprise users to message users on other platforms such as Slack, Teams and WhatsApp.

The company's new product – Element One – effectively bundles three of the bridges that EMS reckons will appeal most to consumers – WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram – into a $5-a-month package.

Having to spend $5 might give some potential customers, who have become used to the freebie offerings of the messaging giants, pause for thought. However, if we've learned anything from the social media giants over the last few years, it's that freemium services are never truly free.

Also not possible at the moment is using the voice or video capabilities of the bridged services. Sure, if Grandpa is also a Matrix user, then knock yourself out with all that end-to-end-encrypted goodness. However, if it's a bridged service he's running, then it's just messages, invitations and attachments permitted for the time being. One could pop in a voice or video message as an attachment, but it's not really the same.

As for the voice and video chats, EMS Vice President Richard Lewis told The Register: "I can't say 'Yeah, we're going to have it tomorrow or next week' but we'll continue trying to find a way of doing so."

Lewis noted the inherent bridging challenge: "What we're fighting against here is the siloing nature of the different companies."

"Facebook's trying to keep you locked in," he said, "and it's not in their interest to open up bridges to other communities."

The other challenge is the downside of bridging, which will be all too familiar to Element users of old. Chats with users of other platforms are subject to those platform's terms and conditions and an account is still needed to make the magic work.

That is - unless everyone's a Matrix user. Even Grandpa.

Lewis told us that bridges to Facebook Messenger and iMessage featured strongly on the roadmap, since both were commonly used by consumers: "if they can continue chatting in their system, and you can have all of that chat in one place, it's much better for them."

And if that $5 seems too high a price to pay, then there's always the open source option. ®

Other stories you might like

  • India reveals home-grown server that won't worry the leading edge

    And a National Blockchain Strategy that calls for gov to host BaaS

    India's government has revealed a home-grown server design that is unlikely to threaten the pacesetters of high tech, but (it hopes) will attract domestic buyers and manufacturers and help to kickstart the nation's hardware industry.

    The "Rudra" design is a two-socket server that can run Intel's Cascade Lake Xeons. The machines are offered in 1U or 2U form factors, each at half-width. A pair of GPUs can be equipped, as can DDR4 RAM.

    Cascade Lake emerged in 2019 and has since been superseded by the Ice Lake architecture launched in April 2021. Indian authorities know Rudra is off the pace, and said a new design capable of supporting four GPUs is already in the works with a reveal planned for June 2022.

    Continue reading
  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021