What are MetaMask Snaps?

MetaMask Snaps

TL;DR
MetaMask is spreading beyond the Ethereum ecosystem and becoming a platform. The most popular crypto wallet has made a big step in boosting innovation in its ecosystem, called Snaps. View them as ‘browser extensions’ or plugin for your MetaMask app, adding functionality. Snaps let developers of other protocols build plugins for MetaMask. Keeping people safe is one of the big goals, moving between chains another.

MetaMask is a crypto wallet made available as a browser extension. It connects your browser and the Ethereum blockchain, so you can interact with applications, for example trading app Uniswap. MetaMask is by far the most popular browser extension crypto wallet, with over 22 million app installations and users. At quite some distance comes number two, Coinbase wallet.

MetaMask top crypto wallet
Source: Goingecko.com

But MetaMask has its limitations. For one, as mentioned, it is until now only compatible with Ethereum. But now the Snaps will be the extensions, the ‘power tools’ that can upgrade the functionality of your MetaMask wallet.  

Currently, there are a few main use cases for Snaps, such as transaction safety and access to more chains than just Ethereum or Ethereum compatible chains. 

Note: currently, Snaps are not yet available on the mobile version of MetaMask, but they will be in the near future. Also, the current open beta mode of Snaps means that developing is still permissioned instead of permissionless. Meaning they’re audited by the MetaMask developers. This too will change soon.

Transaction Insight Providers

An example of how to install a Snap. For example, a transaction safety provider. This means that whenever you’re confirming a transaction you can have additional third parties helping you stay safe. The next time a scam does the rounds, these apps will be the first ones to notify you.

MetaMask Snaps overview

Let’s say you opt for Wallet Guard.

How to add Snap to metamask

Click Add to MetaMask. Wallet Guard is one of the Snaps that does so-called transaction simulation: it looks at your transaction and tries to estimate the results and warn you of scams if necessary. Now, this app might not catch all the scams. But another Snap focused on Transaction insights just might. You can install multiple transaction insights Snaps, and together they will cast a safety net around you.

Notifications

Another category are Notifications. An example is Push Snap protocol, a peer-to-peer push tool. It allows any wallet address to receive notifications directly in MetaMask. For example if the above-mentioned transaction Insight Snap Wallet Guard will let you know if any contracts that you’ve issued allowances to are are now known as as vulnerable.  They might for example encourage you to issue revocations.

New Chains Supported

There are with the current selection of Snaps more than 20 blockchain protocols that MetaMask can support. If a dapp out there wants to interact with your assets on Aptos or Algorand, for example, that’s now possible.

The he most important chains wallets of which are supported are:

  • Aptos
  • Cosmos
  • Solana
  • SUI
  • Tezos

ShapeShift Example

The Shapeshift Snap has more than ten chains integrated, including Bitcoin. Finally! Your MetaMask wallet can interact with Bitcoin! Let’s have a look.

Let’s take the ShapeShift MultiChain Snap as an example. To install it, for search convenience uncheck the Notifications and Transaction Insights categories from the top dropdown. What you are left with are the interoperability apps. 

Select ShapeShift and click Add to MetaMask.

Add ShapeShift to MetaMask

You will see a pop-up that says Installation complete. Click on the link and proceed here.

Go to app.shapeshift.com

The ShapeShift website will prompt you to connect with MetaMask.

Connect ShapeShift to MetaMask

After successfully pairing your MetaMask wallet with ShapeShift, you are in! Lo and behold, your MetaMask wallet can now deal with for example swapping ETH for BTC. Unheard of until now. (ShapeShift uses Thorchain for this).

Trade on ShapeShift with MetaMask wallet

Future Use Cases

In an interview with Bankless, MetaMask Co-founder Dan Finley thinks ahead. The current use cases of Snaps are pretty straightforward. But more is possible. He envisions a future where an app onboarding a person into a crypto wallet is done by a single link. That might include a subsidy for gas or some kind of permission to do something on the user’s behalf. In order for this to work, Snaps would need to be able to not just share information but permissions as well.

Conclusion

These Snaps were designed with a certain set of use cases in mind. But it will be interesting to see where the developer community takes this new functionality. Probably in directions we don’t expect. It is a welcome development, as MetaMask has felt stagnant for a while in terms of its user friendliness and usability. 

What are MetaMask Snaps? - - 2024

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What are MetaMask Snaps? - - 2024
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