Decentralization doesn’t have to come at the expense of user experience

Hedgehog was developed by Audius, a decentralized and open-source music streaming service currently in private beta. Audius is reinventing the music industry by creating a decentralized community of artists, fans, and developers who openly share and defend the world’s music.

Consumer web3 providers like MetaMask treat every transaction as if it were spending your life savings. But do you use the change in your pocket with the same level of care as your bank account?

Today, Audius is launching Hedgehog to dramatically improve user experience in low financial value use-cases.

Hedgehog is an open-source, client-side Ethereum wallet that uses a username and password and doesn’t prompt users to confirm transactions. It allows users to interact with your DApp just like they would any other website, no extensions required, without centralizing control of private keys.MetaMask continues to make the most sense in cases involving significant sums of money, but we believe Hedgehog will provide an important alternative choice for those focused on user experience and adoption.

Why Hedgehog?

Using crypto apps today is hard. Really hard.Here is a common set of steps for a user new to crypto to onboard:

  1. Install MetaMask
  2. Set up MetaMask, write down your wallet seed and store it in a safety deposit box (does anybody do this?)
  3. Sign up for Coinbase, including full KYC / identity verification
  4. Buy ETH
  5. Send ETH to your MetaMask wallet
  6. Now go back to the DApp and sign up…

And god forbid you want to use a DApp on another device… users have to install the extension again and re-enter the wallet seed from step 2 into the new device.

For some DApps, the abandon rate at the
“Install MetaMask” step of their signup flow is over 90%.

By combining Hedgehog with EIP-712 signatures and a transaction relaying service to pay gas on behalf of your users trustlessly, as we have done at Audius, this onboarding flow turns into only 1 step:

  1. User signs up with username (or email) and password

Users never need to see that crypto is involved, but are still able to participate in the benefits of a decentralized network.

When Not To Use Hedgehog

High financial value use-cases are not a good fit for this type of approach. For cryptographers and security-minded folks reading this, you will understand that there’s no free lunch, and to achieve this improvement to usability Hedgehog does not prompt users to approve transactions. As a DApp developer, you must understand these tradeoffs before choosing to integrate Hedgehog.DApps using Hedgehog should also consider supporting 3rd-party web3 providers, as we have at Audius, giving users an upgrade path or an alternative if they would rather not give up transaction signing control. Hedgehog is designed to give users another choice, not take away the ability for users to choose how they interact with web3 products.

How Does It Work?

Hedgehog lives in your front end Javascript code. A user enters a username (or email) and password, which is used to secure a set of encrypted auth artifacts that are generated client-side and stored in the browser’s localStorage and on the application developers’ server. In this way, the encrypted auth artifacts can be retrieved and consumed on secondary devices without centralizing custody and control of the private key.With Hedgehog, we’re excited to open up the benefits of decentralization to the rest of the non-crypto world. Our hope is that in the future, millions of people will be using DApps without even knowing crypto is operating behind the scenes.For more details, please check out the Hedgehog website and Github.

Posted 
May 30, 2019
 in 
Blockchain
 category

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