COI - Chat Over IMAP - is a universal chat protocol that is Free, Open, Easy, Safe and does not require developers to build or maintain a server.
COI uses an email address and any IMAP server as its infrastructure. This means it can already connect 7 billion active accounts (3.8 billion unique users) - anyone with an email address.
COI in a Nutshell
Fundamentally, COI is a free & open standard that is built on top of the IMAP and SMTP standards.
The COI ecosystem is the COI Standard plus compatible Client Apps and Email Servers.
COI works with all email servers, but IMAP servers can be enhanced with extra COI capability. These extra capabilities make the development of both services and applications much easier and more powerful.
- COI first starts by connecting to an IMAP server.
- It checks to see if the server has COI extensions.
If Yes then the client can use these extensions.
If No then the client has to use the COI Client protocol.
The COI Client protocol is a little more longwinded but works on any standard IMAP server.
- The client then uses this connection, and an email address, to communicate to someone.
- If the recipient has a COI client then communication continues as chat, if not then messages are received as emails.
Since this is all based on email, you can communicate with users even when they do not have COI-compatible servers or apps.
COI for Users, Privacy and Freedom Advocates
With COI you have all your messages in one place – both emails and chat messages. This means that you can also easily find your information again when searching for messages.
You can also reach everyone, there are more than double active email users than WhatsApp users, for example.
Only with COI you can choose your preferred communication provider. You can also switch your provider, if you are not satisfied anymore. This is not possible with privacy centric but closed service offerings such as Signal, Telegram or similar.
Don’t trust anyone? With projects such as The Helm you can even run your own email service in your home!
Same like with your email service provider, COI offers you a selection of compatible apps to choose from – again, this freedom of choice is crucial for being able to select the COI client app that you can trust and that you like.
Last but not least, every COI client app can offer a variety of end to end encryption options to keep your communication absolutely private.
COI for Developers
COI is the only ecosystem that provides openness, a strong messaging basis AND overcomes the network effect.
With COI you don’t need to develop, host and maintain your own communication servers.
Thanks to Delta Chat Core, as a client developer you do not even need to deal with IMAP directly.
COI is based on the firm belief that only a free and open standard provide a basis for prosperity and freedom for everyone. Please review our current draft of the COI standard RFC (“request for comments”) at the developer wiki.
COI for ISVs and Partners
Only COI provides and open ecosystem that is not controlled by a single player. This allows you to rely on your investments and nobody can forbid you to provide your services in this open ecosystem.
Email has been scrutinized heavily over the years, so there won’t be bad legal surprises.
As an independent software vendor (ISV) you can choose between different integration options, for example: COI compatible client apps, Integrations into COI apps, COI compatible IMAP and SMTP servers, Email-based services like bots
COI for Providers
By offering COI compatible chat services you can rejuvenate your audience and increase usage of your services. This obviously brings in new monetization options like advertisement, affiliate and upsell offerings.
For businesses you can offer a unified messaging system, in which all messages are in one place. If you combine messaging with full governance, compliance and archiving, you will solve a lot of current problems of your business customers.
Due to the open nature of COI, you can even offer branded client apps and select from a variety of COI compatible vendors.
COI for Businesses
As a business you will already use email for your communication with customers, partners and within your company. With COI you will now additionally gain chat capabilities – and only with COI you can choose your preferred service provider or even host your COI email service on your premise.
With COI you can select your preferred messaging client provider and easily integrate your own services.