TL;DR: We launched a new app to easily share private files called Envelop. Try it out at envelop.app
To keep up-to-date with the industry, we’re always researching for new ways of building apps. And one movement that got our attention was decentralized apps, or dapps as they're commonly called. They're usually associated with crypto currencies, and sometimes get a bad reputation because of it.
Decentralized apps don’t rely on a single server or entity to work. They’re built with pear-to-pear mechanisms, usually built with the blockchain, to be able to save and send data, while ensuring trust between the pears.
It sounds complicated, but they bring important advantages, even for regular app users. Being able to own your data, have privacy and not rely on the benevolence of a single company are advantages that shouldn’t be available only to tech-savvy people.
So we looked for good use cases for our first decentralized app. Something that we would use regularly, and could have a broad audience. And we remembered about file-sharing apps. How they’re business model is overcharging users for storage, storage you never actually control.
And we researched technologies for how to build it, coming across Blockstack. It interested us because it only used the blockchain for the hard decentralization problems, like authentication and routing. For the rest, it builds upon the current web technologies we use and know how to scale.
That’s the story behind Envelop, an app to easily share private files without losing their ownership.
Just drop a file, get a download link and share it.
As a reviewer told us: “In all sincerity, if my grandmother was to be alive at this moment, she would testify to how easy it is to use the Envelop file-sharing service just to emphasize how simple the user interface is.” (source)
We partnered with João Diogo Costa to build both an Android and a Web apps.
To get users going with decentralized apps, Blockstack is offering their own free unlimited storage. But at any time you can configure your own storage hub and all Blockstack apps start storing their data somewhere you own. It's still a bit techy process to setup your own storage hub, but we believe it's going to become easier in the near future.