This new chat platform from Amdocs’ Vector Creations lets users connect across channels
Keeping up with all the different communication platforms on the market can feel like a marathon, with a new app or service coming out every week.
Thankfully, most folks are able to keep it to mainstream platforms like Facebook’s Messenger, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp, Slack, Twitter, etc, depending on the context and personal preference. But even this can be a bit of a hassle, trying to remember where you chatted with who, and having to switch apps for different conversations.
In hopes of simplifying this process, the team over at Vector Creations Limited has announced the release of their new free app, calling it perhaps optimistically, Riot.
According to the company, this app offers many of the basic services that you would expect from a product of this sort. Group chat, VoIP, video calling, these types of things. However what makes Riot special is its ability to let users communicate with others on different communication apps by bridging them through their platform.
“We believe that the fragmentation between communication apps is a non-sense, especially in the collaboration domain where working across multiple teams ends up a real nightmare of app switching,” Vector Creations’ Head of Product Amandine Le Pape tells Geektime. “If email managed to get over it, [then] real time messaging should be too. All the bots and integrations are just a first step towards breaking the walls, now it’s time to also connect communication apps.”
Built on Matrix.org, Vector Creations claims to have big networks like Slack, IRC and Twitter already open for use. Google Hangouts, Skype, and others are said to be on their way. For those who are curious about the integration options here, GitHub and Giphy are already live, while JIRA and Jenkins are supposedly just around the corner.
Based in London with offices in Rennes, France, the Riot team has been hard at work on this app for the past three years. Vector Creations is a new-ish venture, coming out of Open Market, which itself was bought by tech giant Amdocs back in 2010. Heading up the team is their CTO Matthew Hodgson as CTO, who has specialised in interactive video and telephone applications for over 14 years and is the technical leader of Matrix.org,
Believers in open source and greater data control, the company allows users to choose whether to store their chat data on the Matrix.org servers, or their own.
“We’re very attached to the fact users should be owning their data and have the right to choose who they want to trust with it, and whether they want to be profiled or not,” explains Le Pape. “So we built Riot to give back the power to the user, the ability to choose their app, their security level, their notifications, their integrations from an open ecosystem.”
Beyond basic communications, Vector Creations sees in Riot an opportunity to capture some of the “productivity” market, including the ability to share files between users, much like one would do with Slack or other work-related apps.
In speaking with the company, they tell Geektime that the app will always be free. That said, expect to see them offering paid options down the line for increased storage and other perks.
In looking at Riot, it is reminiscent of Work Group, a great app that was looking to be the Slack for managing external communications like email. Having enjoyed playing with Work Group when it launched in April, with its features like allowing the user to integrate it with email (I hate dealing with long email threads), I was pretty excited. The downside here was that I had trouble getting others on board with me and start using it as well.
At the end of the day, a chat platform, like a social media service, is only as good as its ability to draw in users. The Riot team seems to have figured out that they have a better chance at success by not only putting out their own app, but one that knows how to play nice with others, all while giving users an easier experience.
Vector Creations’ capacity in making that argument to their potential user base will determine whether or not this launch is a success. However, looking at their experienced team and the comfy wiggle room that they give users, Riot has a shot at winning over their own community of loyal users.
Riot is available now on the web, the App Store, Google Play, and F-Droid.