Chat over IMAP

Today Chat over IMAP is trending on Hackernews. The project (run by Open Exchange) seems to be an attempt apply some corporate backing to the Delta Chat project. This project created software that allows one to … chat over IMAP. Using a regular email address. It also uses Autocrypt, so if it detects the contacts you’re chatting with (emailing really) supports Autocrypt too, it should be automatically exchange PGP keys and encrypt. I’ve been eyeing this project as a possible alternative to WhatsApp, and it seems they recently released their Linux client, with the iOS and Windows clients in beta (Android was first). It seems they use the Signal UI, so that’s very familiar to me, so I gave it a spin just now.

The good:

  • it sends chats!

The bad:

  • it receives only some chats. I have not pinned down any possible cause, but some email that I clearly see present in the IMAP inbox aren’t picked up by Delta Chat.

The ugly:

  • There’s no contact im-/export, and no CardDav support either. So get your keyboard ready to do some typing…
  • Sending a public key from a non-Autocrypt email address is not picked up/imported/used by Delta Chat. So you’ve got encryption only with other Autocrypt clients it seems.

I created a separate email address to test, so I have not had any issues regarding mixing chats with regular email, something you’d expect if you just start using this with your in-use email address. I’ve seen discussions and proposals in the projects Github issues, but I have not tested this. I expect it might not be perfect though.

In conclusion this is a very promising project, with hopefully more dev resources for it to complete clients across all major platforms and polish off those usability issues. I’ll be keeping an eye on CoI and Delta Chat!