My previous post explained where to find dapps to try out. In this post, I'm going to use one of the directories I recommended - Coinbase Wallet - to sign up to a leading dapp. For this exercise I chose Peepeth, a decentralized version of Twitter.
I had actually tried to use Peepeth six months ago, but it didn't go so well (more on that below). However this time, signing up to and using Peepeth was a surprisingly smooth process.
Peepeth is a microblogging service that works exactly like Twitter, except you have to pay micropayments of ETH to use it. The idea is that it's a decentralized Twitter, and hence won't be subjected to the uncertain whims of a centralized entity like Twitter Corp. While it does cost money to use Peepeth, the amounts are tiny.
As noted above, I had signed up to Peepeth before. That was back in April. But I promptly got locked out of that account because of an error using MetaMask (a browser extension that is both wallet and "identity vault"). In that case I had signed up to Peepeth on my desktop computer, using the Chrome browser. I had downloaded the MetaMask Chrome extension, which I then used to verify my identity and pay ETH.
However, it was my first time using MetaMask and I soon ran into problems. The user interface for the MetaMask extension wasn't easy to understand, and by mistake I created several different wallets. Long story short, I accidentally lost the private key to the correct MetaMask account. That meant I could no longer log in to Peepeth. No more peeps from @ricmac.
This time, I decided to sign up to Peepeth from inside a digital wallet mobile app. I was inspired to do this from our recent post, Meet the wallets of the future. That post discussed two leading mobile wallets that also act as dapp browsers: Coinbase Wallet and Binance's Trust.
I downloaded both, but will use the Coinbase product here.
Since I cannot use Coinbase as an exchange from my part of the world, I firstly transferred $10 worth of ETH from another of my wallets into the Coinbase Wallet iPhone app. It took just a few seconds to transfer into Coinbase Wallet (and cost me $0.18 in a transaction fee, fwiw).
I then clicked on the DApps tab in the Coinbase Wallet app. There's a small selection of dapps to choose from, including Peepeth.
When I clicked "Visit Peepeth," it opened a browser window from within the wallet app. I had to request an invite and jump through a hoop or two, but eventually I was invited to sign up.
When I entered the invitation URL I was given, I was taken through a series of steps to activate the account. The most important step was the first: use a wallet/browser to connect to the Ethereum mainnet network. Coinbase Wallet made this a smooth process, unlike MetaMask back in April.
There were also a number of 'warning' screens about the public and irreversible nature of blockchain.
Finally it came time to make my first transaction using Coinbase Wallet, in order to create my Peepeth account. The reason why it charged me is that it costs a small fee - in the form of ETH gas - to make an entry onto the Ethereum blockchain. As you can see, the estimated cost was 4 cents.
What I actually ended up paying was $0.19, but there was no explanation for the discrepancy.
In any case, I was now back on Peepeth as @ric (surprisingly, this shorter version of ricmac was available).
I did my first "peep" (akin to a tweet). Note that each peep you do will cost money; plus you have to pay for each person you follow. But again, these are micro payments. Also, you can do 15 such actions before having to make a transaction.
An interesting side note is that your peeps and other data aren't saved directly onto the Ethereum blockchain, but rather onto a service called IPFS that connects to Ethereum. Here's how the company explains this:
[...] it doesn't really store that data per se; rather, it stores a link to that data. The data itself is saved to a decentralized data store called the Interplanetary File System (IPFS).
Once I'd done 15 actions, it was time to pay the piper. It cost me 11 cents, so it worked out at under a cent per action.
Using Peepeth via the Coinbase Wallet app on my iPhone was much easier than attempting to use it on a desktop browser via MetaMask. Overall, I was impressed by the user experience in Coinbase Wallet.
That said, if I want to use Peepeth outside of Coinbase Wallet I will have to do a bit of set-up work. Including using my old friend MetaMask if I want to use Peepeth on my desktop. No thanks.
The other immediate problem I see with using Peepeth inside Coinbase Wallet is that I won't get notifications on my phone. It's a dapp within an app, which is far from ideal.
Finally, not many people use Peepeth currently. There was a big deal made about Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin joining in July, but he hasn't peeped since a month ago.
As for the cost, all up I paid 30 cents to sign up to and start using Peepeth. That's a small price, but will still many people off. For further context, I've done over 10,000 tweets so far on my @ricmac Twitter account - which would cost me about $100 on Peepeth.
I'm not sure if Peepeth will pull me in for the long term, but I'm glad to know my @ric account is at least operational (unlike my previous @ricmac a/c). Follow @ric on Peepeth if you'd like to test this dapp out.