MetaMask, the popular crypto wallet and browser extension, has been working on a new feature that could make it easier and more intuitive for users to interact with blockchains. The feature, called “intents”, is a way of expressing what the user wants to do on a blockchain, without having to worry about the technical details.
Intents are a design principle that aims to simplify the user experience of blockchain applications. Instead of requiring the user to specify the exact parameters and steps of a transaction, such as the amount, the gas fee, the contract address, and the function name, intents allow the user to just state their desired outcome, such as “swap ETH for DAI” or “mint an NFT”.
The intents feature then takes care of finding the best way to execute the user’s request, by routing it to the most suitable service or protocol. For example, if the user wants to swap ETH for DAI, the intents feature could compare the rates and fees of different decentralized exchanges, such as Uniswap, SushiSwap, or 1inch, and choose the one that offers the best deal.
This way, the user does not have to know or care about the underlying complexity of the blockchain, and can focus on their goals and preferences. Intents also make it easier for developers to create and integrate blockchain applications, as they do not have to worry about the compatibility and interoperability of different protocols and services.
How does MetaMask implement intents?
MetaMask, which has over 10 million monthly active users, is one of the most widely used crypto wallets and browser extensions. It allows users to access and interact with various blockchain applications, such as decentralized exchanges, lending platforms, games, and NFT marketplaces.
MetaMask has been experimenting with the intents feature for a while, and has recently deployed a version of it on its beta channel. The feature is currently available for some of the most common use cases, such as swapping tokens, sending transactions, and approving contracts.
To use the intents feature, the user simply has to click on the “What do you want to do?” button on the MetaMask interface, and choose from a list of options. The user can then customize their request, such as the amount and the token they want to swap or send. MetaMask then shows the user the best available service or protocol to fulfill their request, and asks for their confirmation.
MetaMask’s intents feature is powered by a routing mechanism that connects the user’s request to the appropriate service or protocol. The routing mechanism is based on a set of rules and criteria, such as the user’s preferences, the network conditions, the service availability, and the transaction costs. MetaMask also uses a reputation system to rank and filter the services and protocols, based on their performance, reliability, and security.
What are the benefits and challenges of intents?
The intents feature could have a significant impact on the user experience and adoption of blockchain applications. By making it easier and more intuitive for users to interact with blockchains, intents could lower the barriers to entry and increase the accessibility and usability of blockchain applications. Intents could also foster innovation and competition among blockchain services and protocols, as they could offer more choice and flexibility to users and developers.
However, the intents feature also faces some challenges and limitations. One of the main challenges is to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the routing mechanism, as it could affect the user’s satisfaction and trust. The routing mechanism has to be able to handle the dynamic and complex nature of the blockchain environment, such as the volatility of prices, the congestion of networks, and the emergence of new services and protocols. The routing mechanism also has to be transparent and fair, and avoid any bias or manipulation.
Another challenge is to balance the simplicity and the control of the user interface. While intents aim to simplify the user interface by hiding the technical details, some users may still want to have more control and visibility over their transactions, such as the gas fee, the contract address, and the function name. Therefore, MetaMask has to provide a way for users to access and adjust these details, if they wish to do so.
What are the implications and future of intents?
The intents feature is still in its early stages, and MetaMask plans to expand and improve it in the future. MetaMask intends to add more use cases and options to the intents feature, such as lending, borrowing, staking, and creating NFTs. MetaMask also plans to open up the intents feature to third-party developers, who could create and offer their own intents to users.
The intents feature could also inspire and influence other crypto wallets and blockchain applications, who could adopt or adapt the intents design principle to their own products. Intents could become a new standard and paradigm for blockchain user interfaces, and could shape the way we use blockchains in the future.