Meet Stealthy a new messaging app that leverages the decentralized Blockstack application platform to create a messaging app. The company participates in the launch of TechCrunch Battlefield on Disrupt SF and launches the app on iOS and Android today.
On the surface, Stealthy works like many messaging apps. But it becomes interesting once you start digging to understand the protocol behind it. Stealthy is a decentralized platform with privacy in mind. It could become the glue that makes the various decentralized applications adhere.
"We started Stealthy because Blockstack had a global hackathon in December of last year," co-founder Prabhaav Bhardwaj told me. "We won the hackathon in February". Later, the #deletefacebook movement combined with the general trend towards decentralization pushed Bhardwaj and Alex Carreira to send the app.
Blockstack manages your identity. Get an ID and a 12 word passphrase to recover your account. Blockstack creates a blockchain record for each new user. Use your Blockstack ID to connect to Stealthy.
The stealth users then choose how they want to archive their messages. You can connect your account with Dropbox, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, etc.
Whenever you send a message to someone, the message is first encrypted on the device and sent to the recipient's cloud provider. Your recipient can then open the Stealthy app and decrypt the message from its storage system.
All of this is perfect for the end user. It works like an iMessage conversation, which means that Microsoft or Amazon can not open and read your messages without your private key. You stay in control of your data. Stealthy plans to open the protocol and the mobile product in such a way that anyone can control their code.
Some features require some level of centralization. For example, Stealthy relies on Firebase for push notifications. If you feel uncomfortable, you can disable this feature.
The company also wants to become your central hub for every kind of decentralized app (or first in short). For example, you can run Graphite Docs or Blockusign from Stealty. Even these bits are built on Blockstack, but Stealthy plans to integrate with other apps that do not work on Blockstack.
"At the moment we have integrations at first, and we want to make it easier to add integrations at least if someone wants to get in and start selling stickers for messages, you can do it. "said Bhardwaj. "In the end, what we want to do is make it easy to send an app to the App Store."
When you create a digital product, it is likely that you eventually add a messaging feature. You can chat in Google Docs, Airbnb, Venmo, YouTube … And the same is likely to be true with dapps. Stealthy believes that many developers can take advantage of a strong communication infrastructure: in this way, other companies can focus on their core products and let Stealthy manage the level of communication.
Stealthy is an ambitious company. In many ways, the startup is trying to build a decentralized WeChat with Signal's encryption capabilities. It's a messaging app, but it's also a platform for many other use cases.
A handful of messaging apps have become so powerful that they've become a weak spot. Governments can block them or exploit them to create a social ranking. Authorities can get a mandate to ask technology companies to give them data. And of course, the best technology companies have become too powerful. More decentralization is always a good thing.