What is Signal?
Signal is a cross-platform encrypted messaging service available for Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows, Mac and Linux. The app is remarkably similar to your favourite messaging app (WhatsApp). It uses the internet to send one-to-one and group messages. The messages can include media attachments such as files, notes, audio, video, and pictures. You can also use it to make one-to-one and group calls (voice and video).
Signal only collect information about the phone number that you use to create an account. All the chats are secured by end-to-end encryption and nobody can access your chats but you.
This messaging app is developed by Signal Technical Foundation and Signal Messenger LLC which is a non-profit company. Moxie Marlinspike, an American cryptographer and currently CEO of the company., and Brian Acton (WhatsApp co-founder) created Signal Foundation. Brian Acton, who left WhatsApp in 2017, has put in around $50 million to help with funding Signal.
Is Signal Free or Paid? Do they host advertising?
Signal app is completely free to use. And you would not see any advertising on the app. It allows you to send messages or media to your friends or group of friends. It also allows voice and video calling to up to 150 members in a group.
What are the common features?
Here are the common features that are available in Signal Private Messenger. This is surely the best alternative for WhatsApp is you are thinking about ditching WhatsApp permanently.
- In Signal, you cannot add people to group automatically. People will receive a link to accept the invitation for a group. That means nobody can add you to any group without your acknowledgement.
- Like WhatsApp and some other messaging apps, you can reply to any specific message on Signal and delete the messages for everyone.
- Signal also offers “Disappearing Messages” feature. You can set the message to disappear for each individual chat and choose timing accordingly in the range of 5 seconds to one week.
- Signal has its tagline as “Say Hello to Privacy”. They provide end-to-end encryption which is already available in WhatsApp but Signal respect your privacy by collecting minimal data, unlike WhatsApp or Facebook. You will not have to compromise on the features by using Signal.
- This is a cross-platform app and you can use it on several devices including Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, and Linux.
What are the privacy features on Signal?
Signal respects about your privacy more than WhatsApp. And this is the reason people are looking for the alternative of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Elon Musk himself urged people to ditch WhatsApp and switch to Signal for more privacy. Here are the privacy features that Signal Messenger offers to its users:
- You can opt for “relay-calls” where all the calls would go through a Signal server without revealing your IP address. However, this might reduce the call quality. Importantly, you might never need this feature.
- Like WhatsApp, you can turn ON or OFF read receipts. You can also turn off Typing indicator to avoid showing when a message is being typed.
- There is no feature like status to show you online, unlike you have on WhatsApp.
- You can turn off link previews on Signal that you send on messages.
- Signal also offers an option to set Security PIN to keep your account safe. You can turn on the PIN reminder to ensure that you do not forget the PIN. Recovering the PIN is not possible if you forget and you would lose the access to your account.
- There is screen lock feature what would use your phone’s lock security such as Face ID, Touch ID, Fingerprint or Pattern etc. However, answering calls and messaging is possible even when the screen lock is there.
- Signal only collect minimal information. It collects the contact info that you use to create the account. It store all the data locally on your device. Your profile picture and name are end-to-end encrypted.
- Signal has also made it clear that is cannot decrypt or otherwise access the content of your chats including both calls and messaging.
- Signal app makes it very clear that it does not sell, rent or monetize your personal data or content in any way.
- Privacy for your contact list says that Signal can optionally discover contacts in address book who are Signal users. According to signal, all the information related to your contacts is kept secure and may be cryptographically hashed and transmitted to the server so that it can determine which of the contact is registered on Signal.
How can I use Signal on an iPad or a Laptop?
As we discussed earlier, Signal is a cross-platform messaging app. That means you can use it one your device including Android, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Linux, and Windows. However, Signal does not transfer your chat history to your other device.
For example, you are using Signal on your smartphone and you link it to your computer using QR code feature (same as WhatsApp). By doing so, it would sync your account to your computer, but your chats will not be transferred. This happens because all the message history is stored locally on your smartphone. It means, if you lost your device you would not be able to restore any of your messages as you cannot back up on Google Drive or iCloud.
Should I ditch WhatsApp and Switch to Signal?
Well, that is up to your usage and decision. You are the one controlling your privacy and usage. We would not say that Signal is best in every term or feature. You might find WhatsApp have some rather good features that are important to you. But Signal is getting everyone’s attention because of how it handles your privacy.
Surely, Signal offers better privacy guarantee than any other messaging service. They have made it crystal clear that they do not sell or monetize user’s data. Also, it is a non-profit company. They have no plans of bringing advertising in future ever.
If your privacy is a concern and you do not want Facebook to store and share your data, then you should ditch WhatsApp and switch to Signal. On the other hand, you are still using WhatsApp and if sharing your data and new privacy policies does not bother. You can opt to stay with WhatsApp.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Ans. WhatsApp is ranked 57th among messaging apps while Signal is ranked 2nd.
Ans. Hacking is only possible through physical contact with your device.
Ans. All the messages and chat history are stored locally on your phone and Signal does not have access to those.
Ans. It has proven to be safe so far. iMessage has similar end-to-end encryption but according to experts, Signal is more secure.
Ans. Android users have encrypted backups for their messages. Backups are encrypted with a unique passphrase to ensure only you can access your messages.
Ans. It is developed by Signal Technical Foundation and Signal Messenger LLC.
Internet is fragile and there are a lot of security and privacy issues available occasionally. Companies collect data to share with publishers, show you relevant ads., and obviously to make more profit by utilizing your data. No matter what security you apply to the apps connected with the internet, it can be cracked if someone really wants your data. Facebook recently made changes to WhatsApp privacy, but does it mean that they were not using your data earlier? The only difference that it make is about accepting to do so. And Facebook is doing so to enhance their advertising revenue.
End-to-end encryption is there in every other app nowadays. But what matter most is how companies respect your privacy. How they handle your data? What they collect and why they collect information about you and your contacts? That is what matters. Because by installing any app and giving permission to your data on your phone you somewhat know that your information might be used somewhere without your consent. Now it is in our hand what we choose to do with these privacy concern.
The best way to take care of your privacy on the internet is by getting a basic knowledge about common terms. You can ditch WhatsApp today and maybe you find something better than Signal, WhatsApp or even Telegram.