Published: 2014-02-23 11:47:51 by Daniele Ricci

Dear Indian users,
I'm sorry to inform you that we did all we could do in our power to let Indian users receive our verification SMS. We use Nexmo to send them. Like any international SMS wholesale service, it has specific carrier restrictions in India, as described here: Specific Carrier Restrictions in India, notably:

  • Nexmo can only guarantee message delivery between 9am to 9pm. Messages submitted after 9pm Nexmo will attempt to send, but due to local regulations, these messages may be blocked or queued.
  • you might receive our SMS probably as Cell Broadcast. Please enable CB on your mobile to be sure to receive it
  • messages sent to numbers registered in the NDNC (National Do Not Call) list will be blocked.
  • messages towards Jammu and Kashmir networks (example, 405/55 - Airtel J&K) will be blocked by the government due to political sensitivity.

Registration attempts have been cut to one every 24 hours. We decided to do that because we pay for these blocked messages and we can't afford the price even with donations. You don't have any idea how much registration attempts we receive from India.
I'm sorry there is nothing else we can do for now. We will investigate other solutions, but it will be taken care of in version 3.0.

Published: 2014-02-17 19:57:21 by Daniele Ricci

In August 2013 a journalist named Angela Gruber contacted me via e-mail asking for some technical details about Kontalk. I was more than happy to answer her questions. After a couple of replies, I never heard from her again.

A few days ago, a user on our mailing list posted this: Die vermeintlich sicheren Alternativen zu WhatsApp.

I didn't know about Die Zeit. A quick look on Wikipedia turned out that it is one of the largest newspaper in Germany.

Die Zeit is a German national weekly newspaper well-regarded for its journalistic quality [...] it is the most widely read German weekly newspaper. Wikipedia

Then the majority of users are from Germany. Is it a coincidence? :-)

Here is a translated version of the snippet about Kontalk.

More decentralized approach to Kontalk

The application Kontalk is still under development. Daniele Ricci from Italy who founded the project, he is also the lead developer. With Kontalk he wants to establish a non-commercial community project and counts on a decentralized server structure. Volunteers are expected to rent server capacity and provide it to Kontalk, creating a network under one domain name.

The project is still in its early stages. Currently a free app is available for Android only, so far only text messages and pictures can be sent. This is less than what myEnigma or Threema offer which can send more media types.

Also the encryption method has flaws, what Ricci admits: in its first version Kontalk works with symmetric encryption. For upcoming versions Ricci wants to correct this.

Published: 2014-02-12 10:22:23 by Daniele Ricci

We are glad to announce that we've just entered alpha testing! Click here for the announcement on kontalk-devel. Being this an initial alpha release, it contains a lot of new features but also a lot of bugs. It might also blow up your phone.
Alpha release is public, but please note that some skills are required for being a good tester: you might be asked to generate system log dumps, possibly extract system files and stuff like that. Please wait for beta if you think you don't have time to spare or some basic Android skills.

This alpha introduces the use of XMPP with the original package name org.kontalk. Some highlights:

  • you will not be able to chat with Kontalk 2.x users until they upgrade
  • invitation system: no more automatic subscriptions. Although there is a privacy setting regulating this, XMPP normal presence subscription flow is used
  • XMPP compression is not enabled yet, so this version will require more bandwidth than "normal" thus more energy
  • you will be asked for your name at the first chance you open the new app. That will be the name that will be used in your PGP key uid

A lot of stuff is still missing: media messages (e.g. images) are not available yet. You can see a list of changes planned for alpha2 here.

I want to thank Christian Braun which has kindly donated a mirror for Kontalk releases and other stuff:
Despite of what I said in the release announcement, we are not hosting releases on Google Drive any more. Mirrors are listed in the downloads page on Google Code.

Published: 2014-01-31 14:56:21 by Daniele Ricci

We are almost there. There are still a few more things left, but the big tasks have been completed. As you can see from the git log these last days have been very full of work for me.

In the last two weeks Kontalk XMPP client has grown really fast, still I'm not yet sure what the date of the first alpha release will be. I'd like to say the 9th, but there is still a big open point about a possible bug on Android versions 2.x in its SSL implementation which is quite critical for successful login to the XMPP server1.

The first alpha version will have a basic invitation system, enhanced PGP encryption featuring 2048-bit RSA keys (GnuPG not ready for ECC yet, sorry), typing notifications, a new Emoji input mode, a lot of other performance improvements and bugfixes not found in the 2.x series.

The only thing missing will be attachments: there are still some things left to do server-side, so the "buttons" will be available but they will not work at first. Also blocking a user will not be available in this first alpha release.

In the mean time, I'm working together with the XMPP standards team to write a push notifications XEP draft which is being discussed these days also at the XMPP summit at FOSDEM (which I unfortunately couldn't attempt to).

Stay tuned.

  1. after recent tests I can confirm that the issue can't be reproduced. 

Published: 2013-12-04 13:56:22 by Daniele Ricci

Many weeks have passed since I said I will be releasing a first beta of Kontalk 3.0. Since it obviously hasn't happened yet, I thought it was time for me to write a few lines about the project status.

At the time of writing this post, 13 previews of 3.0 have been released, mostly debug versions. Another preview will be released very soon (probably this evening) with a few fixes.

After that, pre-alpha cycle will end and a first alpha will be released: it will have a first testing version of message encryption using PGP keys, but without OTR.

XMPP version is still missing a few things that need to be addressed before ending the alpha cycle — higher priority tasks are in bold:

  • PGP message encryption
  • user invitation confirmation
  • proper key roll-over
    • compromised key protection
  • legacy protocol (2.x) bridge
  • XMPP stream compression (server-side)
  • XMPP federation (s2s)

I'm currently working on PGP message encryption (androidclient repository, encryptedMsg branch). I hope I can release a first alpha in a few days.
PGP encryption will replace the old symmetric encryption method, meaning that encrypted messages will not be compatible between versions 2 and 3 of Kontalk client.

I'm still not really sure about the legacy protocol bridge. Of course it would allow users from both versions to communicate, but eventually everyone will have to upgrade. What I know for sure is that the old service will be online for a few months after 3.0 release on Play Store. More information about this will come during the beta phase.