Decentralized social networking protocol Nostr is now officially live on Apple’s app store.
Nostr spiked in popularity after former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey became an enthusiast of the technology, later making a 14 bitcoin donation to its creator. The enthusiasm caused the protocol’s most popular mobile app, Damus, to hit its beta testing limit of 10,000 users –– which would prompt its developers to apply for a formal listing on Apple’s app store. Today, Damus was approved, and a full release is now available on the App Store for anyone to download.
Dorsey took to Twitter to comment on the news, saying the launch was "a milestone for open protocols."
Nostr, an acronym for Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays, is, at its core, exactly that. Users create an account purely by generating a key pair –– one public and one private key –– through a client application. The public key is the user’s "ID" on the protocol, while the private key is akin to the user’s password. The user can broadcast a message to the protocol by connecting to a relay and signing the message with their private key. Anyone can message a specific user by referring to their public key. Leveraging asymmetric cryptography, users can message each other privately by encrypting their message with the destination user’s public key, which ensures only the private key corresponding to that public key can decrypt the message.
This dynamic is similar to Bitcoin. A Bitcoin transaction ensures, also through asymmetric encryption, that only the rightful recipient can "decrypt" the received funds –– aka spend them in a future transaction. Bitcoin has since evolved from the simple send-to-public-key dynamic used by Nostr, but the core of the idea is still there.
Nostr is still a niche project, as the protocol is very much in its infancy. Bitcoin, which is now 14 years old, is yet to be adopted globally, and Nostr has but a fraction of that established history. Nevertheless, the technology is promising, given it’s an open, censorship-resistant and permissionless communications protocol. With Damus’ listing on the App Store, Nostr can now reach much more people than previously possible.
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