Is it time to stop using WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is the most used instant messaging application in the world. The app has 2 billion unique users, as revealed by Facebook a few days ago. Among the best alternatives to WhatsApp is Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, iMessage or WeChat in number of users, but in functionalities it competes directly with Telegram or Signal . Now, the latter is taking more and more strength to be a safe alternative to WhatsApp.
Signal is considered one of the safest instant messaging applications . In fact, its protocol is so secure that it is the one used by WhatsApp itself to encrypt your messages from end to end. The problem is that WhatsApp collects, for example, the metadata of the users, being able to know with whom we speak, at what time, and much more. Signal, for its part, does not collect any of this data.
Signal wants to go mainstream
However, Signal has been considered until now as a niche application and intended only for those who want to have secure conversations. WhatsApp and Telegram continue to have many more users and more functions that facilitate interaction. Now, its creators have been wanting to bring it to the mainstream for two years.
The application was created by Moxie Marlinkspike five years ago, and today it is he who also maintains the Signal Foundation that is responsible for its management. Initially there were three workers, but after the 50 million dollars they received from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton in 2018, they have gone to 20 employees. Acton also joined the company as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
With that money they have managed to add functions that bring the application closer to a greater number of users, as is the case of stickers . However, they had to manage so that the stickers were also sent through their encrypted protocol, where each pack has its unique key.
It has also been difficult for them to put functions like the control of administrators in groups, where they could remove or add members without the servers knowing who is part of the conversation. Other features that have been added are clients for PC and iPad, messages and videos that disappear after seeing them once, customizable stickers and reactions with emojis. Some of these we could see in series like Mr Robot, House of Cards or Euphoria , which have helped the app gain even more popularity.
Currently, Signal has tens of millions of users , since its creators have not given approximate figures. These can be estimated by the number of downloads, where in the Play Store we find that it has between 100 and 100 million. Its creator claims that 40% of its users are on iOS, so we can get a rough idea of the users who use it.
Signal continues to introduce features to compete with WhatsApp and Telegram
In addition to the changes they have made to look more like what WhatsApp or Telegram offer , Signal has also improved privacy with features such as being able to store encrypted contacts on Signal’s servers, which could prevent it from being necessary in the future to give the phone number to identify contacts. They also have plans for a new group messaging system.
Brian Acton would like Signal to reach the levels of users that WhatsApp has today. Also, as long as they continue to obtain financing, they would not have to end up like WhatsApp bought by a large company. With all the changes they have introduced, their audience now goes beyond activists, politicians or users who are jealous of their security, and basically want to offer an application that is the reference in terms of security, but without users having to sacrifice some of your favorite features.
Unfortunately, for most users WhatsApp is more than enough. And for those looking for a little more, Telegram is the most complete messaging application in history, since it also allows you to create channels and use it independently of the mobile , something that neither WhatsApp nor Signal allows at present.