The decentralized social networking protocol Nostr has officially launched on Apple’s app store.
Nostr’s popularity skyrocketed when former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey became so enamored with the technology that he later donated 14 bitcoins to its creator. With this enthusiasm, Damus, the protocol’s most popular mobile his app, has reached his 10,000-user beta test limit, and its developers apply for formal listing on his Apple app store. Now Today Damus is approved and the full release is available on the App Store for anyone to download.
Dorsey commented on the news on Twitter, calling the announcement an “open protocol milestone.”
Nostr, an acronym for Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays, is just that at its core. Users create accounts by simply generating a key pair (one public and one private key) through a client application. The public key is the user’s “identity” on the protocol, and the private key is analogous to the user’s password. Users can broadcast messages to the protocol by connecting to a relay and signing messages with their private key. Anyone can send a message to a specific user by referencing the public key. Asymmetric encryption allows users to exchange messages privately by encrypting the message with the public key of the destination user. This ensures that only the private key corresponding to that public key can decrypt the message.
This dynamic is similar to Bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions use asymmetric encryption to ensure that only legitimate recipients can “decrypt” the funds received. Since then, Bitcoin has evolved from the simple transmission-to-public-key dynamics used by Nostr, but the heart of the idea is still there.
Nostr is still a niche project as the protocol is still in its early stages. The now 14-year-old Bitcoin is yet to be adopted globally and Nostr is just a small part of its established history. Still, the technology is promising given that it is an open, censorship-resistant, permissionless communication protocol. With Damus on the App Store, Nostr can reach far more people than ever before.