Announcing Zap Android

Yo! Today I have an amazing announcement to make, and an even a better story to tell. Zap Android is now available.

You can download the Zap Android Beta from the Google Play Store here.

Zap Android History

If you know, you know. This is a big announcement and something the community has been waiting on for a long time. However, if you don’t know, allow me to give you some context because this is one hell of a story.

Zap has an interesting origin story and an interesting history with Android in particular.

I started building what became Zap in my bedroom for myself, so I could use the Lightning Network and show my parents what the future of Bitcoin will look like. Long story short, I’ve only owned an iPhone (or a Razr) my entire life. I had never used an Android before and had no idea or interest in building a useful product for Android. Things I create are done in a very authentic, organic, iterative and simple way. One of the few rules I have for myself is I must be a user of the thing I am creating. It allows me to have a more absolute understanding of direction which makes for the best products. So, I never built Zap for Android because I didn’t have an Android. It was always that simple.

However, as Zap grew, the demand for Android was very obvious. So obvious (and hilarious) that I keep a folder on my computer titled Sir when Android? to document the requests I get online.

Here are some:

The Zap Android Miracle

It was a calm Beijing night as I was sitting in my hotel room around 3am local time in February of this year. I was visiting Beijing to talk Bitcoin, host a Zap event, and also build relationships in the mining industry for some financial products I think will be interesting for Bitcoin.

During the trip, my sleep schedule was a mess. Almost every day I would wake up at 3am and go play basketball inside my hotel. One day, as I was getting dressed to play basketball alone, in Beijing, at 3am, I got a Slack message. I have grown accustomed to the time zones some of the more frequent Zap contributors work in, and the current time didn’t make sense. I was curious to see who it was. Then as I opened Slack, I saw the notification was coming from a newly created private channel in Zap’s Slack called zapandroid.

I clicked on the notification and saw an extremely long message that started with:

Hey there,
I was working for the last 3 months on Zap for Android…

As I kept reading, I learned the story of a Zap community member, who goes by the name Michael Wünsch, the engineer behind Zap for Android. Why? Why work on an Android app for Zap? Simply because he thought it should exist. Michael had studied all of my public Zap iOS demos, screenshots, and posts and seemed to have executed an MVP Android version to a tee.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had never spoken to this person before in my life, and I still didn’t own an Android! How do I test this? How do I validate the claims made? Usually, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I call on my friends in the space. The Bitcoin community has become family to me. So, who to call when Zap Android falls out of the sky? Well, it was obvious: Rockstardev of BTCPay Server. Rockstardev is like my Bitcoin uncle, always taking care of me and looking out for me. So, I quickly got him on the phone, and I told him everything. An hour later, he couldn’t believe his eyes either. The code was well on its way to becoming a premium Android Lightning Network enabled Bitcoin wallet, and most importantly: it worked!

Zap: For the Community, by the Community

At this point, I’m in shock. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. But, as I was shooting hoops alone, in Beijing, at 3am, and thinking more about it, I actually could believe what happened.

This story is Bitcoin. This story is Zap. This story is a human being, that goes by the name Michael on Zap’s slack channel, willing the world to a better place, a place he prefers to the one prior.

This story is open source software. A reminder that our “team” is ever growing. There is no organization, company, or government that can compete with us. Open source software will eat the world. People relate to projects like Zap. They see a better life with Zap in it, and they get behind Zap and cheer for Zap. Zap is backed by people with purpose and a mission, there is no greater backing than that, and it will forever outpace any organization, in the same way, that Bitcoin will.

This story is all of us. From a high enough viewpoint, we all love Bitcoin because it represents a world we want to live in and the change we’d like to see. A world that is better than the one we were brought into.

Bitcoin isn’t simply money, but more a revolution. Zap isn’t simply an app, but rather a reflection of this community’s morals, principles, and greater mission + vision of a post-lightning Bitcoin era that puts users first.

I feel honored and motivated by Michael. He didn’t just build an Android app, this was a lot bigger than that. So, I think I can speak for more than just myself, and say thank you, Michael. We all appreciate you getting Zap Android off of the ground and reminding us of the power of Bitcoin and open source software 👊✊.

As soon as I landed in the US I ran to the store and bought an Android. So, with all that being said, let’s take a look at Zap Android.

A Look at Zap Android

When you first download Zap Android, you will be taken to the wallet UI that displays the default values.

If you follow the “Setup Wallet” button, you will be taken through the steps to connect Zap Android to your own LND node. At the moment, this is done through lndconnect, which is also used with our Desktop and iOS wallets. Simply scan an lndconnect QR code (via command line or within your Zap Desktop wallet) or paste an lndconnect string. Currently, on-device LND support is not available for Android (Android dev is a little behind iOS dev as you can imagine) but soon come.

By default, Zap Android enables a Scramble PIN screen, so when entering your PIN, screen watchers can’t easily guess the numbers you’re entering.

Another cool setting is “Hide total balance”, which when enabled, will display a Zap logo instead of your balance. When clicking the Zap logo, your balance will appear for a few seconds before fading away.

Sending, receiving, managing your channels and viewing your history should look fairly familiar.

I would like to remind everyone that Zap Android is very early in development and should be used carefully. As always, bug reports, feature requests, and general comments are encouraged via Github and Slack. Zap Android is not perfect yet, not even close. But, it is off to one hell of a start.

The code is also now open source, of course. You can find the Zap Android repository here. Michael will commit and help maintain the repository when he can, but he has a full-time job during the day. So, I would love to fund passionate Bitcoiners that can do some serious native Android development to maintain the repository and build out the future of Zap Android with me and the community. If you are interested, tweet at me, email me, ping me on Slack, flash a signal in the clouds, or whatever. Let’s do this!

Thanks

That’s all, for now, my friends. We’ve been whippin’ up some crazy cool stuff, so you’ll be hearing more from Zap soon. Stay woke.

As always, thank you for the support and don’t be shy if you want/need to reach out. Hit me up via email or via Twitter. For those looking to report bugs, give feedback, suggest features, and so on, our Slack and Github is the place to be.

Catch y’all on the flip side. Cheers 🍻