Monal iOS 3 Released

Version 3. This is the third major version release since 2008. There are major changes to the way the app works and looks. I hope that the changes that I have made are for the better. There will likely be some quick updates after this to address issues that are raised.

Fundamentally, the way Monal works has changed. It will now use push to receive messages if that is an option. This vastly improves message reliability. Your servers will need to have a push support enabled. Monal’s server still does not receive your messages, it will only know to wake up your device when there is a new message. If push is not available, multi-tasking will be short. This addresses changes to iOS in recent versions and there is no way to go back to the old behavior, unfortunately.  From what Apple engineers have said, the current approach should be much better.  In my own testing I have had reliability comparable to iMessage.

Additional improvements:
– A new layout for the UI, trying to highlight elements that are used more
– iPhone X support
– Conversation synchronization
– Delivery Confirmation
– Improved Multi user chat
– Server capabilities viewer
– Side by side multi tasking on iPads
– View images in the Conversation
– Improvements to stability and reliability

New Mac Client Available and GDPR

The new Mac client is in the App Store.  Hoping to have an iOS client out soon too.  These  will be the last releases pre-GDPR.   There will likely be a gap before there is any update to the clients while I sort out GDPR.

Growing Input Bar and Easier Markup

I have brought over the logic from iOS where the input area will grow as you add content to it. In addition to  being a much better use of space (and modern), this should improve accessibility for people who default to a font size that is bigger than the standard font as the input area should adjust appropriately.   Another useful side effect is if you decide to drag and drop an image. The mark up button is now a lot easier to see and use.

New Mac Beta: Accessibility and New Input Bar

The Mac input bar was in bad need of some updating.  This should look a lot better. Despite the size of the input area, it should hold two lines before needing to scroll. I have also made more improvements to accessibility, adding unread counters and better descriptions to UI elements when using voice over.

All of this is in the latest Mac beta, which is available right now.

 

iOS Push Server Upgrade

Attention iOS beta testers. I am upgrading the iOS push servers tonight.  There might be some downtime as the DNS changes propagate. You will also have the close and reopen Monal to register with the new server.  After restarting, make sure that the push switches are  all on in the Notifications under Settings.

Improving Accessibility

There is a long running joke about open source software that it is almost always a paragon of poor UI/UX.  If you have ever struggled with software on linux you know that sometimes it can be impenetrable.  I don’t blame developers, UI/UX is hard and when you are the same person developing and testing it, it is easy to forget that works for me may not work for everyone else.

This is sort of how we need to think about accessibility. It is really hard to understand how someone else will use it if you are used to always using your app one way.    With that in mind I recommend other developers use the Accessibility Inspector and Voice over to get an idea for how accessible their software is.

I have made several improvements to the next Mac release to address issues with accessibility.  The elements of the UI should have descriptions and help text where applicable. You can now navigate through the conversations list and quickly hear your messages, who sent them and where they came from.  I will keep improving  in future update (and check iOS as well ) let me know how I can make this better.

Update on OMEMO

I have finally had the time to take a look at OMEMO. I know that end to end encrypted chat has been something people have requested for almost a decade now.  There finally appears to be a workable solution it a permissive license that can be published in the App Store.

As usual, the Mac client is my testing ground for new logic and I will probably focus the next release after this one on E2E encryption.  I know that OTR was something former Adium users missed, I hope that a native Mac client with a user friendly OMEMO interface fills the gap there.  I’ve been looking at Gajim and Chatsecure and will probably fish out a Android tablet (actually an HP touchpad)  from somewhere to test with Conversations too.

Mac beta 4

There is another new beta for the Mac client. I’ve made a few UI fixes and adjustments to MAM. Generally, I think the MAM code is working well enough that I will push this client out to production with some more UI fixes.  You will probably see me working on Mac UI issues on GitHub for a little bit.

Regarding iOS. I am still unhappy with the push server. At the moment it is not properly throttling pushes and I see far more pushes coming for a single message  than there should be. There are also issues with the XMPP spec (XEP) that I am unhappy about. In particular, I feel pushes should only happen for messages and voip calls and nothing else.  It appears to be happening for far more than that.  Due to the way that push is designed for user privacy, I don’t see what content is triggering a push. It is entirely dependent on individual servers.