For the last month, I’ve been using XMPP (using Snikket) for every call and chat between me and my wife Sandra, at least.
Sandra and I switched from using Matrix to using XMPP a while back. Matrix was pretty good for messaging, although quite a few encryption-related issues, but it - or my installation of it, possibly - was unreliable for audio and video. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it would not.
Moving to XMPP - using prosody - worked really well for messaging, but the lack of real-time notifications on Sandra’s iPhone was sub-optimal, and the lack of any notifications for incoming XMPP calls on her phone was really undesirable.
I installed Snikket, a self-contained XMPP distribution just over a month ago and, since then, we’ve tried to use that for every call and message.
And we have very nearly succeeded - I can think of only two times where I fell back on using a cellular call instead of an XMPP call:
One was where Sandra was somewhere with very poor cellular data coverage (as in, cannot load a basic web page of check email), so fair enough.
Another was when I was in Westminster, so there really shouldn’t have been a coverage problem, but there was an annoying latency on the connection of a few seconds, which made me think that perhaps the cell was congested, or something like that. Enough for a monologue or to get an important message across, but too poor for a meaningful conversation.
But other than those two occasions, voice and video have been incredibly reliable. We’ve had quite long calls using it, moving between cells, and switching between Wi-Fi and cellular connections, and it has been great. I haven’t experimented yet too much with calls from my computer; that’s still to come.
Messaging, including photo sharing, has worked flawlessly throughout.
Sandra is, with no disrepect meant, a pretty typical end user. She puts up with me installing different apps on her phone, or asking her to use Service X or Y for something, but she doesn’t have a particular interest in how it all works, or what it is, as long as it does the job. So it is very pleasing that XMPP has been so painless in that regard too.
I haven’t tried using it with anyone else though, or across different servers, as there’s no-one else with whom I want to talk who also uses XMPP. I could set up my parents on it, and use XMPP instead of Signal, and this is kind of where I wish Snikket supported multiple domain names rather than needing different instances (I know, I know, there’s prosody for that…).
I rather like the fact that’s an Intel NUC, sitting in the rack at home, carrying all our communications, and that they are encrypted. That all appeals to me.