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Akord Will Rival Dropbox and Google Drive

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Akord is on a mission to become the De Facto app for storage on the permaweb. Utilising Arweave, and offering a minimum of 500mb of free permanent storage for new users, they have built an app that users will find rivals traditional storage options like Dropbox and Google Drive.

But Akord is not just a storage solution, as it offers many more features, like note taking and collaborating. Akord has a lot to offer, with many upcoming updates planned, including a token drop (read to the end to find out about AKRD).

I also had the chance to talk to Pascal, Akord’s Co-Founder, to get a look at some upcoming features, as well as an overview of their plans for the future.

Let’s dive in!

Getting started – the basics

Upon signing up for Akord via the website, you will be prompted to enter an email and password. There is no option to connect to Akord via ArConnect, as seen in many other Arweave native dApps, and this is because Akord use their own wallet. 

Signing up to Akord with these credentials, similar to what you would expect from a Web2 app, is crucial to what Akord is trying to achieve here. That is the fusion of Web2 and Web3 tech, reaping the benefits from each. In this instance the benefit is having the option to receive push notifications to your email, and an extra level of security before accessing the site. 

But your wallet, as expected, is protected by a 12 word seed phrase. The use of the wallet offers end to end encryption. Right now they’re offering 500 MB of free storage to get you going. For each person you invite to the platform, you can receive an additional 100 MB. This is capped at 10 people.

User Interface and Experience

The user interface is extremely clean and looks amazing. The team wanted to keep everything as minimalistic and simple as possible. If you have used Arweave’s Permaweb in depth before, you might know some technicalities, like what a mempool is, and how it could prevent you from uploading things if there is too much traffic.

Pascal told me that such details are not needed for the average user, and that they want to break down barriers for people to switch over from Web2 to Web3. If things look too complicated, this will never happen.

Pascal was really keen on going over the notification centre with me. He wanted to design it clutter free, and really emphasised its simplicity. 

Akord has also implemented a search feature into their platform. This may not seem like a key talking point, but when we are talking about end to end encrypted data, and the permaweb, things can get complicated.

For now, the search feature only returns results that have been decrypted by you in your session. However the team are working on a way to index, and search through all your data once you are logged in.

Vaults to house your data

When setting up your account on Akord, and creating your digital wallet, you will then make a vault. This is where all your data will live.

For now Akord offers private vaults only, with public vaults on the future roadmap. But this doesn’t stop you from collaborating with others. Users are able to invite collaborators, with a choice of editor or viewer permissions, to their vault.

Collaborators are able to access everything in the vault thereafter, but through an interesting key rotation system, once those users access has been revoked, they can no longer decrypt anything.  

Even though all the data in private vaults lives on a public blockchain, it is end to end encrypted. This mean that vaults offer the safest storage solution possible.

Pascal showed me one of their private vaults containing the company’s legal docs, stored there by their lawyer. Documents that, if in the wrong hands, could prove catastrophic for Akord. That shows just how confident Akord is with their platform, and Arweave’s Permaweb.

Architecture – combining Web2 and Web3

Even though Akord’s underlying protocol, and all your uploaded data live on the permaweb, the main Akord app is not being deployed to it just yet at least, Akord won’t completely decentralise the app until they’re able to do so without sacrificing performance and UX. This is in order to reap the benefits of both the centralised and decentralised worlds.

Pascal told me that if it was feasible to utilise Web3 and a decentralised system completely, then they would consider that, in the future. But for now, most reasonable people would say that it’s fine to combine the two.

One example of utilising traditional systems, is the implementation of push, and email notifications. Right now there is no Web3 system for notifications the works reliably.

Akord wallet and cheap AR

Akord utilises the Arweave Permaweb for its storage. To store data on Arweave, you pay in the native Arweave token – $AR. Your data is then stored forever. So, with Akord, you pay once, and store forever too.

Interestingly enough, Akord is able to offer low fees for their platform. And this is mainly due to the use of the Akord wallet for payments to the Permaweb. By using their own wallets, the team are able to load it up with tokens whenever they want.

So when the price of $AR drops, they stock up and load up the wallet. Essentially they have their own treasury of $AR tokens, at this time it’s enough to hold their current price of $6 per GB for at least a year. And going forward they should always be able to offer storage at a price that is lower than the network fee.

Akord messages

A cool feature you’ll find on Akord, is a built in messaging system. Through the messaging system you were able to interact with anyone else in your vault, including leaving an an emoji on the message. And yes, even the emoji will get transacted to the Permaweb and live there forever.

The messaging system was originally built for business to business use, but is now transitioning to something similar to WhatsApp. Expect to see features like reply to message as well as preview in images sent back-and-forth.

Akord notes

In the spirit of offering handy features and tools within their platform, Akord have also implemented a note taking system to the app.

For now it is straightforward in what it offers – you are able to take notes and include bullet points and different types of headings. Soon you’ll also be able to include tables, images, and also add links within the notes.

Since everything is end to end encrypted, and nothing unencrypted ever goes through any Akord servers, this note taking feature could be safe enough to even store your passwords on. Pascal himself use this feature for writing things his young daughter says, as they can sometimes be very funny. He never wants to lose these memories, and so stores them on the platform.

“With Web2, we assume, one day things will just be lost”
Pascal, Akord Co-Founder

But this is not the case on the Permaweb.

Utilising Arweave

So everything uploaded through Akord lives on the Arweave Permaweb. Private vault data is uploaded and encrypted, with only people who hold the wallet’s private keys being able to decrypt it.

One interesting detail that I found out during my conversation with Pascal is that no transactions that are uploaded through Akord ever fail, not even when the network is congested. Akord simply loops any failed transactions over and over again until they are mined and verified by the network.

For anyone that has dealt with the Permaweb before, trust me, this is a big deal. Arweave is rising in popularity exponentially, and as a result the network can sometimes get really congested. At the end of the day this shows massive interest in growth for the network. So the Akord team have chosen the right path.

Nothing can ever be deleted from the Arweave Permaweb… ever.

But Akord offer a nice housecleaning tool to the tune of a revoke button. Simply revoke a file, and it will no longer show up via the Akord app.

Akord explorer

I asked Pascal what would happen if Akord seized to exist. This is where Akord Explorer comes in.

Akord explorer is an app of its own. As opposed to the main Akord app, Akord explorer does live on the Permaweb, and it always will. Even though all data uploaded via Akord goes to Arweave’s Permaweb where it will live forever, Akord Explorer offers a way for users to always access all the data they uploaded, via Akord, in one place.

It is  as a way of reading the protocol layer living underneath the main app.  In the chance that Akord ever stops being around, users will be able to connect their Akord wallet to the dApp, and access everything again.

However, Akord explorer offers a much simpler version of Akord, that is read only. The team are in the process of finishing Akord Explorer as we speak.

They are also planning on making the protocol open source, so that other projects can build on it. If you have logged into a different project that utilises the Akord protocol, with your Akord wallet, then you will be able to see the data uploaded through it on Akord Explorer too.

Our Favourite Upcoming Features

Mint an NFT on upload!

In a bid to create the simplest and cleanest way of making an NFT, users will be able to select a file to mint as an NFT at the moment of upload, including metadata and all! In turn they can share the link to the NFT on socials, and users that clicks on it will be directed straight to the Akord Gallery.

Import from Facebook

The team are currently in the process of applying to use the Facebook API. After implementing the API, vault owners will be able to click “Import from Facebook”, and pull their photos from Facebook to Arweave, storing them there forever. Really handy for anyone who grew up with Facebook and has used in as their primary photo library.

 

AKRD token

The team will be releasing a utility and governance token for Akord. It will be coming in the second half of this year, or at the beginning of 2023.

The token will be an Arweave Profit Sharing Token (PSC) with 50% of the supply going to the community and be used to incentivise people to use and build on Akord. The governance aspect will be utilised to get the community to decide on bigger picture stuff surrounding the protocol.

The team also want to implement a quick “Go to Verto Exchange” button.

More upcoming features

Akord have a lot of fun things coming up, including:

  • Public vaults – create and share a public vault with anyone.
  • Mobile app – select and upload your favourite photos directly to Akord. From you camera roll to your vault in a few clicks.
  • Open Source – open sourcing their code and tools, to build a wider dev ecosystem
  • Crypto payments – the team is hard at introducing a payment feature that will allow Akord users to buy storage with crypto, instead of fiat.

The future of Akord

They may have been hiding backstage this whole time, but now, it’s time for them to enter the spotlight. The preparations are complete. For Akord, 2022 will be all about marketing, and getting their name out there.

They seek to help get people away from services like Dropbox and take them over to the Permaweb, to Akord.

On top of all the hard work that Akord has been doing, they are also environmentally conscious. By default, using a sustainable blockchain like Arweave, it a good step in the right direction. But Akord are going the distance.

Their end goal? Becoming carbon negative.


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