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Newsletter: Holidays

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client. Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

Automatic refill for users of the data plan was rolled out to everyone this fall. This has been going well and we fully expect to enable new SIM and eSIM orders for all JMP customers (with no waitlist) in January, after the holidays.

Speaking of holidays, MBOA staff, including JMP support staff, will be taking an end of year break just like we always do. Expect support response times to be longer than usual from December 18 until January 2.

This fall also saw the silent launch of new inventory features for JMP. Historically, JMP has never held inventory of phone numbers, buying them directly from our carrier partners when a customer places an order. Unfortunately, this leaves us at the mercy of which regions our partners choose to keep in stock, and this year saw several occasions where there was no stock at all for all of Canada. So we now have a limited amount of local inventory to improve coverage of important regions, and may eventually be adding a function for “premium numbers” for very rare area codes or similar which cost more to stock.

We have also been working in partnership with Snikket on a cross-platform SDK which we hope will make it easier for developers to build applications that integrate with the Jabber network without needing to be protocol or standards experts. Watch the chatroom and the Snikket blog for more information and demos.

There have also been several releases of the Cheogram Android app (latest is 2.13.0-1) with new features including:

  • Improved call connection stability
  • Verify DNSSEC and DANE and show status in UI
  • Show command UI on channels when there are commands to show
  • Show thread selector when starting a mention
  • Circle around thread selector
  • Several Android 14 specific fixes, including for dialler integration
  • Opening WebXDC from home screen even from a very old message

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Newsletter: Summer in Review

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client.  Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

Since our launch at the beginning of the summer, we’ve kept busy.  We saw some of you at the first FOSSY, which took place in July.  For those of you who missed it, the videos are out now.

Automatic refill for users of the data plan is in testing now.  That should be fully automated a bit later this month and will pave the way for the end of the waiting list, at least for existing JMP customers.

This summer also saw the addition of two new team members: welcome to Gnafu the Great who will be helping out with support, and Amolith, who will be helping out on the technical side.

There have also been several releases of the Cheogram Android app (latest is 2.12.8-2) with new features including:

  • Support for animated avatars
  • Show “hats” in the list of channel participants
  • An option to show related channels from the channel details area
  • Emoji and sticker autocomplete by typing ‘:’ (allows sending custom emoji)
  • Tweaks to thread UI, including no more auto-follow by default in channels
  • Optionally allow notifications for replies to your messages in channels
  • Allow selecting text and quoting the selection
  • Allow requesting voice when you are muted in a channel
  • Send link previews
  • Support for SVG images, avatars, etc.
  • Long press send button for media options
  • WebXDC importFiles and sendToChat support, allowing, for example, import and export of calendars from the calendar app
  • Fix Command UI in tablet mode
  • Manage permissions for channel participants with a dialog instead of a submenu
  • Ask if you want to moderate all recent messages by a user when banning them from a channel
  • Show a long streak of moderated messages as just one indicator

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Newsletter: Jabber ID Discovery, New Referral Codes

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client.  Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

It has been a while since we got a newsletter out, and lots has been happening as we race towards our launch.

For those who have experienced the issue with Google Voice participants not showing up properly in our MMS group texting stack, we have a new stack in testing right now.  Let support know if you want to try it out, it has been working well so far for those already using it.

If you check your account settings for the “refer a friend” option you will now see two kinds of referral code.  The list of one-time use codes remains the same as always: a free month for your friend, and a free month’s worth of credit for you if they start paying.  The new code up in the top is multi-use and you can post and share it as much as you like.  It provides credit equivalent to an additional month to anyone who uses it on sign up after their initial $15 deposit as normal, and then a free month’s worth of credit for you after that payment fully clears.

We mentioned before that much of the team will be present at FOSSY, and we can now reveal why: there will be a conference track dedicated to XMPP, which we are helping to facilitate!  Call for proposals ends May 14th. Sign up and come out this summer!

Quicksy Logo For quite some time now, customers have been asked while registering if they would like to enable others who know their phone number to discover their Jabber ID, to enable upgrading to end-to-end encryption, video calls, etc.  The first version of this feature is now live, and users of at least Cheogram Android and Movim can check the contact details of anyone they exchange SMS with to see if a Jabber ID is listed.  We are happy to announce that we have also partnered with Quicksy to allow discovery of anyone registered for their app or directory as well.

Tapbacks Jabber-side reactions are now translated where possible into the tapback pseudo-syntax recognized by many Android and iMessage users so that your reactions will appear in a native way to those users.  In Cheogram Android you can swipe to reply to a message and enter a single emoji as the reply to send a reaction/tapback.

Cheogram Android There have been two Cheogram Android releases since our last newsletter, with a third coming out today.  You no longer need to add a contact to send a message or initiate a call.  The app has seen the addition of moderation features for channel administrators, as well as respecting these moderation actions on display.  For offensive media arriving from other sources, in avatars, or just not moderated quickly enough, users also have the ability to permanently block any media they see from their device.

Cheogram Android has seen some new sticker-related features including default sticker packs and the ability to import any sticker pack made for signal (browse signalstickers.com to find more sticker packs, just tap “add to signal” to add them to Cheogram Android).

There are also brand-new features today in 2.12.1-5, including a new onboarding flow that allows new users to register and pay for JMP before getting a Jabber ID, and then set up their very own Snikket instance all from within the app.  This flow also features some new introductory material about the Jabber network which we will continue to refine over time:

Welcome to Cheogram Android Screenshot How the Jabber network works Screenshot Welcome Screen Screenshot

Notifications about new messages now use the conversation style in Android.  This means that you can set seperate priority and sounds per-conversation at the OS level on new enough version of Android.  There is also an option in each conversation’s menu to add that conversation to your homescreen, something that has always been possible with the app but hopefully this makes it more discoverable for some.

For communities organizing in Jabber channels, sometimes it can be useful to notify everyone present about a message.  Cheogram Android now respects the attention element from members and higher in any channel or group chat.  To send a message with this priority attached, start the message body with @here (this will not be included in the actual message people see).

WebXDC Logo

This release also brings an experimental prototype supporting WebXDC.  This is an experimental specification to allow developers to ship mini-apps that work inside your chats.  Take any *.xdc file and send it to a contact or group chat where everyone uses Cheogram Android and you can play games, share notes, shopping lists, calendars, and more.  Please come by the channel to discuss the future of this technology on the Jabber network with us.

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Verify Google Play App Purchase on Your Server

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

We are preparing for the first-ever Google Play Store launch of Cheogram Android as part of JMP coming out of beta later this year.  One of the things we wanted to “just work” for Google Play users is to be able to pay for the app and get their first month of JMP “bundled” into that purchase price, to smooth the common onboarding experience.  So how do the JMP servers know that the app communicating with them is running a version of the app bought from Google Play as opposed to our builds, F-Droid’s builds, or someone’s own builds?  And also ensure that this person hasn’t already got a bundled month before?  The documentation available on how to do this is surprisingly sparse, so let’s do this together.

Client Side

Google publishes an official Licensing Verification Library for communicating with Google Play from inside an Android app to determine if this install of the app can be associated with a Google Play purchase.  Most existing documentation focuses on using this library, however it does not expose anything in the callbacks other than “yes license verified” or “no, not verified”.  This can allow an app to check if it is a purchased copy itself, but is not so useful for communicating that proof onward to a server.  The library also contains some exciting snippets like:

// Base64 encoded -
// com.android.vending.licensing.ILicensingService
// Consider encoding this in another way in your
// code to imp rove security
Base64.decode(
    "Y29tLmFuZHJvaWQudmVuZGluZy5saWNlbnNpbmcuSUxpY2Vuc2luZ1NlcnZpY2U=")))

Which implies that they expect developers to fork this code to use it.  Digging in to the code we find in LicenseValidator.java:

public void verify(PublicKey publicKey, int responseCode, String signedData, String signature)

Which looks like exactly what we need: the actual signed assertion from Google Play and the signature!  So we just need a small patch to pass those along to the callback as well as the response code currently being passed.  Then we can use the excellent jitpack to include the forked library in our app:

implementation 'com.github.singpolyma:play-licensing:1c637ea03c'

Then we write a small class in our app code to actually use it:

import android.content.Context;
import com.google.android.vending.licensing.*;
import java.util.function.BiConsumer;

public class CheogramLicenseChecker implements LicenseCheckerCallback {
    private final LicenseChecker mChecker;
    private final BiConsumer mCallback;

    public CheogramLicenseChecker(Context context, BiConsumer<String, String> callback) {
        mChecker = new LicenseChecker(  
            context,  
            new StrictPolicy(), // Want to get a signed item every time  
            context.getResources().getString(R.string.licensePublicKey)  
        );
        mCallback = callback;
    }

    public void checkLicense() {
        mChecker.checkAccess(this);
    }

    @Override
    public void dontAllow(int reason) {
        mCallback.accept(null, null);
    }

    @Override
    public void applicationError(int errorCode) {
        mCallback.accept(null, null);
    }

    @Override
    public void allow(int reason, ResponseData data, String signedData, String signature) {
        mCallback.accept(signedData, signature);
    }
}

Here we use the StrictPolicy from the License Verification Library because we want to get a fresh signed data every time, and if the device is offline the whole question is moot because we won’t be able to contact the server anyway.

This code assumes you put the Base64 encoded licensing public key from “Monetisation Setup” in Play Console into a resource R.string.licensePublicKey.

Then we need to communicate this to the server, which you can do whatever way makes sense for your protocol; with XMPP we can easily add custom elements to our existing requests so:

new com.cheogram.android.CheogramLicenseChecker(context, (signedData, signature) -> {
    if (signedData != null && signature != null) {
        c.addChild("license", "https://ns.cheogram.com/google-play").setContent(signedData);
        c.addChild("licenseSignature", "https://ns.cheogram.com/google-play").setContent(signature);
    }

    xmppConnectionService.sendIqPacket(getAccount(), packet, (a, iq) -> {
        session.updateWithResponse(iq);
    });
}).checkLicense();

Server Side

When trying to verify this on the server side we quickly run into some new issues.  What format is this public key in?  It just says “public key” and is Base64 but that’s about it.  What signature algorithm is used for the signed data?  What is the format of the data itself?  Back to the library code!

private static final String KEY_FACTORY_ALGORITHM = "RSA";
…
byte[] decodedKey = Base64.decode(encodedPublicKey);
…
new X509EncodedKeySpec(decodedKey)

So we can see it is an X509 related encoded, and indeed turns out to be Base64 encoded DER.  So we can run this:

echo "BASE64_STRING" | base64 -d | openssl rsa -pubin -inform der -in - -text

to get the raw properties we might need for any library (key size, modulus, and exponent).  Of course, if your library supports parsing DER directly you can also use that.

import java.security.Signature;
…
private static final String SIGNATURE_ALGORITHM = "SHA1withRSA";
…
Signature sig = Signature.getInstance(SIGNATURE_ALGORITHM);
sig.initVerify(publicKey);
sig.update(signedData.getBytes());

Combined with the java documentation we can thus say that the signature algoritm is PKCS#1 padded RSA with SHA1.

And finally:

String[] fields = TextUtils.split(mainData, Pattern.quote("|"));
data.responseCode = Integer.parseInt(fields[0]);
data.nonce = Integer.parseInt(fields[1]);
data.packageName = fields[2];
data.versionCode = fields[3];
// Application-specific user identifier.
data.userId = fields[4];
data.timestamp = Long.parseLong(fields[5]);

The format of the data, pipe-seperated text. The main field of interest for us is userId which is (as it says in a comment) “a user identifier unique to the <application, user> pair”. So in our server code:

import Control.Error (atZ)
import qualified Data.ByteString.Base64 as Base64
import qualified Data.Text as T
import Crypto.Hash.Algorithms (SHA1(SHA1))
import qualified Crypto.PubKey.RSA as RSA
import qualified Crypto.PubKey.RSA.PKCS15 as RSA
import qualified Data.XML.Types as XML

googlePlayUserId
    | googlePlayVerified = (T.split (=='|') googlePlayLicense) `atZ` 4
    | otherwise = Nothing
googlePlayVerified = fromMaybe False $ fmap (\pubKey ->
    RSA.verify (Just SHA1) pubKey (encodeUtf8 googlePlayLicense)
        (Base64.decodeLenient $ encodeUtf8 googlePlaySig)
    ) googlePlayPublicKey
googlePlayLicense = mconcat $ XML.elementText
    =<< XML.isNamed (s"{https://ns.cheogram.com/google-play}license")
    =<< XML.elementChildren payload
googlePlaySig = mconcat $ XML.elementText
    =<< XML.isNamed (s"{https://ns.cheogram.com/google-play}licenseSignature")
    =<< XML.elementChildren payload

We can then use the verified and extracted googlePlayUserId value to check if this user has got a bundled month before and, if not, to provide them with one during signup.

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Cheogram Android: Stickers

singpolyma@sigpolyma.net

One feature people ask about from time to time is stickers.  Now, “stickers” isn’t really a feature, nor is it even universally agreed what it means, but we’ve been working on some improvements to Cheogram Android (and the Cheogram service) to make some sticker workflows better, released today in 2.12.1-3.  This post will mostly talk about those changes and the technical implications; if you just want to see a demo of some UI you may want to skip to the video demo.

Many Android users already have pretty good support for inserting stickers (or GIFs) into Cheogram Android via their keyboard.  However, as the app existed at the time, this would result in the sender re-uploading and the recipient re-downloading the sticker image every time, and fill up the sending server and receiving device with many copies of the same image.  The first step to mitigating this was to switch local media storage in the app to content-addressed, which in this case means that the file is named after the hash of its contents.  This prevents filling up the device when receiving the same image many times.

Now that we know the hashes of our stored media, we can use SIMS to transmit this hash when sending.  If the app sees an image that it already has, it can display it without downloading at all, saving not only space but bandwidth and time as well.  The Cheogram service also uses SIMS to transmit hashes of incoming MMS images for this purpose as well.

An existing Jabber client which uses the word “stickers” is Movim.  It wouldn’t make sense to add the word to our UI without supporting what they already have.  So we added support for XHTML-IM including Bits of Binary images.  This also relies on hash-based storage or caching, which by now we had.  This tech will also be useful in the future to extend beyond stickers into custom emoji.

Some stickers are animated, and users want to be able to send GIFs as well, so the app was updated to support inline playback of animated images (both GIF and WebP format).

Some users don’t have any sticker support in their keyboard or OS, so we want to provide some tools for these users as well.  We have added the option to download some default sticker packs (mostly curated from the default set from Movim for now) so that users start with some options.  We also built a small proxy to allow easily importing stickers intended for signal by clicking the regular “add to signal” links on eg signalstickers.com.  Any sticker selected from these will get sent without even uploading, saving time and space on the server, and then will be received by any user of the app who has the default packs installed with no need for downloading, with fallbacks for other clients and situations of course.

If a user receives a sticker that they’d like to save for easily sending out again later, they can long-press any image they receive and choose “Save as sticker” which will prompt them to choose or create a sticker pack to keep it in, then save it there.  Pointing a sticker sheet app or keyboard at this directory also allows re-using other sticker selection UIs with custom stickers saved in this way.

Taken together we hope these features produce real benefits for users of stickers, both with and without existing keyboard support, and also provide foundational work that we can build upon to provide custom emoji, thumbnails before downloading, URL previews, and other rich media features in the future.  If you’d like to see some of these features in action, check out this short video.

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Newsletter: JMP is 6! Leaving beta this year! And FOSSY 🙂️

denver@ozg.ca

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client.  Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

JMP is 6 years old today!  When we launched in 2017 we had no idea exactly how far we’d go, or that we’d be making one of the most popular chat clients on F-Droid (that is Cheogram Android, which is based on Conversations).  Last year we called JMP “phone-feature-complete” and since then we’ve made all of JMP’s features even easier to use, shepherding big improvements to various Jabber clients, including Movim and Dino, while continuing to provide first-class telephony and messaging features in our flagship mobile app: Cheogram Android.

With so many of the edges now smoothed, and a new onboarding flow almost ready to go, it’s now time to announce: JMP will be leaving beta this year!

What does that mean?  Primarily this is our vote of confidence (as the JMP and Cheogram team) that JMP, and apps we develop such as Cheogram Android, are ready for widespread use.  While of course there will still be improvements to make, we believe it will be able to be recommended to your friends and family (especiall Android users) without reservation.

Naturally there are a couple things to do yet to make that happen, and one of them is to put Cheogram Android in the Play Store at last.  This will be a paid (but still free-as-in-freedom) app that will include one month of JMP service.  Of course, you will still be able to get Cheogram Android from all the other places you can already get it (such as F-Droid and our own repos/APKs).

The other main thing is to set a final post-beta monthly price for JMP.  And, while it won’t take effect until we launch later this year, we are able to now officially announce it: US$4.99/month, with incidental pricing remaining the same (i.e. extra/international minutes will remain what they are now).  Note that there will be discounts for additional JMP numbers linked to your primary JMP number, and also (before JMP leaves beta) a chance to lock in the existing pricing for a period of time.  Having never changed the price since we started JMP 6 years ago, and given the inflation and our own staffing costs since then, we feel the new price will allow JMP to remain both sustainable, and able to face new challenges and exciting opportunities going forward (like the EU’s DMA, for one).  We want to make JMP the best phone number service, and Cheogram the best gateway to everything in the world!

Speaking of Cheogram, a JMP newsletter these days wouldn’t be complete without mention of new Cheogram Android features (2.12.1-2 released in APK form and Cheogram F-Droid repo today!):

  • it will now offer to setup Dialer integration automatically when available
  • the Call Logs (cdrs) command replaces the usage command (giving you more info)
  • the new onboarding flow is improved even more
  • admins of a Snikket instance can create a new Jabber ID and JMP number all inside the app now (see the video demo)
  • new theme: any colour you want! (requires Android 11 or higher)

Note that the Call Logs (cdrs) command will roll out to everyone in about a week.  If you’d like to try it before then, please send a private inquiry to JMP support and we’ll activate it for you.

Lastly, some of you may be interested to know that the JMP/Cheogram team are going to be venturing out to a conference for the first time since March 2020!  In particular, most of the JMP/Cheogram team will be attending FOSSY this year, in Portland, Oregon, USA this July 13-16.  We’ll be announcing specifics of our involvement (whether we have a booth, talks, etc.) closer to the dates.  In the meantime, just know we’ll be there, and would love to chat with any JMP/Cheogram users, prospective customers, or otherwise!

With that, we’ll cap off our 6 years. :)  And what an exciting 6 years it’s been!  With the big launch this year, you can bet on many more to come!

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Newsletter: Threads, Thumbnails, XMR, ETH

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client.  Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

This month we released Cheogram Android 2.12.1-1 which includes several new features.  One of the big ones is an interface for having threaded conversations with other Jabber users (watch the demo video).  This feature will also make it easier to reply to the right message if you use the email gateway.  The app has grown support for more media features, including an ability to show an image right away if you already have it, without waiting for a download, and blurhash based placeholders for images from MMS you have not yet downloaded.

There is also a new user experience when receiving group texts that will actually show the sender’s name (and even avatar, if you have one set for them locally) the same way as any other group chat in the app.  This is made possible by a new draft protocol extension we adopted for part of the purpose.

This version is based on the latest 2.12.1 from upstream, which among other things has added the ability to function as a Unified Push distributor, so if you use any compatible app you may want to check that out.

For the JMP service, this month we shipped the ability to make top-up payments using XMR or ETH directly from the top up command.  This simplifies the flow for users of those currencies, and we hope you will find it useful.  Integrating this support into registration is also coming, but not ready quite yet.

If you are planning to be at FOSDEM 2023, be sure to check out the realtime lounge in with the other stands.  Unfortunately no one from JMP will be there this year, but people from Snikket and other projects around the ecosystem will be present.

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Newsletter: Busy Year in 2022

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client.  Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

Cheogram Android 2.11.0-1 has been released, including an important fix for creating new private group chats.  For some months creating such a group (a Jabber group, not a “group text”) with Cheogram Android has resulted in a public channel on many servers.  Please double-check your private groups and change settings if necessary!  This release will also be the first accepted into F-Droid with an up-to-date version of libwebrtc, so if you’ve had any issues with calls and use the F-Droid build, we recommend upgrading and trying again.  This release also adds support for tagging channels and group chats (on supporting servers, such as Snikket), better use of locales to determine what country code to prepend when dialling, a new OLED black theme, and more.

The data plan roll out continues, accelerating in December but we know there are still many of you waiting.  Thank you so much for your patience, and to all the feedback we have received from users so far.  We are actively working on making the signup process self-serve so that the waitlist will no longer be necessary in the future.

When JMP started we were just one part-time person.  As we grow, the legal structures that fit that time no longer do.  This fall we incorporated the MBOA Technology Co-operative to house JMP, Togethr, consulting work, and other activity.  This gives all our employees full agency in the company and gives us a firm legal footing for the future.  Nothing changes for you at this time, we’re still the same team, and for the time being you don’t even change the name you write on the cheques, nevertheless it marks a milestone in our life as a company.

Year in Review

This year, JMP and Snikket CIC made a deal to offer Jabber hosting as an option for JMP customers. This service is included in the regular JMP subscription and will eventually be the default option for new users during the sign-up process. JMP customers have been able to participate in a beta version of this integration, and JMP customers can contact JMP support to set up a Snikket instance directly.

This year also saw international calling added to our list of features. JMP users are able to use as many minutes per month as they like, with approximately 120 minutes of credit to USA and Canada included by default. Customers are able to pay for additional minutes and make international calls, although users who are still paying with the old PayPal system will not have access to these features (or other features such as the data plan). We also implemented a per-calendar-month overage limit system, where customers can set their own limits to avoid unexpected charges. The default limit is currently set at $0/month.

One of our most popular features has always been our voicemail and transcription, this year we expanded that to support multi-lingual transcriptions as well.

We also added multi-account billing this year, an alpha for JMP use from Matrix, added two employees, created new bot commands for account management, launched Togethr to help people take control of their social media identity, added support for SMS-only ports and the option to disable voicemail, built an XMPP integration for Chatwoot, and launched the JMP data plan.

This year saw the launch and rapid development of the Cheogram Android app, forked from Conversations and including these and other improvements:

  • Add contacts without typing @cheogram.com
  • Integrate with the native Android Phone app (optional)
  • Address book integration (optional)
  • Option to start group texts easily
  • Command UI for better interactions with our and other bots (you can even sign up entirely from within the app!)
  • Rich text message display (including stickers from Movim users)
  • Data de-duplication for files sent/received multiple times
  • Message retraction
  • Ability to edit tags on contacts and channels
  • Tag navigation widget for easier conversation management
  • Ability to copy any link in a message to the clipboard
  • F-Droid repositories for quick updates of official builds

Blog posts this year included: How to use Jabber from SMS, Why Bidirectional Gateways Matter, Computing International Call Rates with a Trie, Privacy and Threat Modelling, SMS Account Verification, and Writing a Chat Client from Scratch.

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Newsletter: New Cheogram Android Release, Chatwoot Instance

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client.  Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

October saw the release of Cheogram Android 2.10.10-3, the largest release in awhile.  The app now stores data de-duplicated, so if you send or receive the same file multiple times only one copy will be stored.  This also lays the groundwork for some new file transfer improvements that will be coming in the future.  The app also now supports displaying rich text messages sent by clients which support that (such as Gajim), including the image protocol needed to display stickers sent by Movim users.  A form of message retraction is also supported, and should work with most Jabber clients out there.  A reminder that message retraction is a social convention and not a security feature – the target still has a full copy of your un-retracted message if they want it.

We know lots of you have big contact lists, across multiple accounts, and that’s why this release introduces the ability to edit tags on your contacts and a tag navigation widget integrated into contact search: to make finding the right conversation just a little bit easier.  We would love to hear feedback about this UI and how well it works for you.

For those of you who start a lot of group texts, there is an easy way to do that built into the app now as well.  When you start a “private group chat” and select only @cheogram.com contacts, you will be prompted to ask if you meant to start a group text instead.  This flow seemed necessary, as many have accidentally created private channels with their SMS contacts instead of the intended group text, so checking at this point was likely to be necessary anyway.

There are also some smaller quality of life improvements in this release, including the ability to copy any link in a message to the clipboard (not just the first one), dumping app logs to a special directory on your device after every call in order to make debugging issues easier, asking if you want to keep app data on uninstall (to make switching back and forth to custom builds possible without always needing export/re-import), a new first-start welcome screen, performance improvements, and more.

As JMP grows so does our support load.  Up until this month we have been managing all our support requests using normal Jabber clients (mostly Gajim and Dino), which worked well enough but less and less well as we grew.  It would be hard to know if someone else was handling a request, who had previously handled a request, or even what the status of some requests were (if they had been resolved elsewhere in the public channel or otherwise).  We’re a small enough team that we can just talk to each other to solve these things, but that does take time, and more time as there are more things to talk out.  So this month we built an XMPP channel integration for Chatwoot and have migrated our main support infrastructure to a Cheogram-hosted instance.  So far we like this a lot, and so much we’ve decided to share.  If you have a project that handles support using Jabber (or SMS with JMP!) you can use it on the Cheogram Chatwoot instance.  Just come by the chatroom and let us know you’re interested.  Only the XMPP channel works on our instance for now, but we’d be happy to enable other channels as well if that would be useful.

And finally, we know many of you are excited about the JMP Data Plan.  Roll out to the waiting list has gone a bit slower than we hoped, but many SIMs did go out in October.  There have been some bumps as you might expect with any test phase, but overall things are looking good and we hope to speed up the roll out and even move on to the next phase soon.

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Newsletter: Voicemail Changes, Opt-in Jabber ID Discoverability

singpolyma@singpolyma.net

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of your pseudo-monthly JMP update!

In case it’s been a while since you checked out JMP, here’s a refresher: JMP lets you send and receive text and picture messages (and calls) through a real phone number right from your computer, tablet, phone, or anything else that has a Jabber client.  Among other things, JMP has these features: Your phone number on every device; Multiple phone numbers, one app; Free as in Freedom; Share one number with multiple people.

This month sees the release of Cheogram Android 2.10.10-2, based on a new upstream version and with many bugfixes and small improvements, especially around the Command UI. We also now have our own F-Droid repositories for quick update of official builds from us. We have a repository for releases and for those who want to help testing new features as they are developed we also have a repository for pre-releases.

Some JMP customers forward their calls to another voicemail service, or otherwise do not have need for the JMP voicemail.  This month we added an official option to the Configure Calls command that allows disabling voicemail completely for users who need this.

The default voicemail outgoing message has been changed from saying “a user of JMP.chat” to specifying what JMP number has been reached.  Anyone with a name or nickname or custom voicemail greeting set is not affected by this change.

As a small improvement for multi-account billing users, renewal transactions now specify what number is being renewed by the transaction.

Cheogram (and thus JMP) is now allowing all users to opt-in to Jabber ID discoverability.  This is to allow users to discover the true Jabber ID behind a phone number so they can upgrade to end-to-end encryption, video calling, high quality media sharing, etc.  This is opt-in only, and most features that make use of this are not built yet, but we wanted to give people the option to express their consent now.  This is done as part of the registration process.  For existing users, if you do not want to opt in, there is nothing you need to do.  If you wish to opt in, simply run the Register command, choose JMP, and it will ask for your consent (it will show if you use the bot as Current Value true for technical reasons, but do not worry it is set to false unless you explicitly answer yes to that question.)

This month we have also made some progress with the early test phase launch of our data-only SIM and eSIM program.  The program is slowly rolling out to the waiting list over the course of the next month, as we gather data and feedback from early users.  If you are interested, adding your Jabber ID to the waiting list is still the best way.  We have also heard the interest in having these available for people who are not otherwise JMP customers, and hope to have that ready for testing soon as well.

To learn what’s happening with JMP between newsletters, here are some ways you can find out:

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your week!

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