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

  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022