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✏ Messaging Apps - Pros and Cons

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#1

This is a Wiki Post. Everybody can add information by clicking the green pencil above.


Continuing the discussion from Threema, a good alternative to Skype?.


Signal

(Former TextSecure and Redphone)
Platforms: Android, iOS, CM, Desktop (Browser)
Can (video) call and send texts, photos, GIFs, videos, audio, contacts, location, arbitrary files, etc. [up to 100MB]
:heavy_plus_sign: end to end encryption (audited and trusted by the crypto community and endorsed ie by Edward Snowden)
:heavy_plus_sign: easy to use (Similar Functionality as WhatsApp, therefore easy for people that are used to WhatsApp.)
:heavy_plus_sign: free
:heavy_plus_sign: independent (developers are supported by community donations and grants)
:heavy_plus_sign: open source client
:heavy_plus_sign: Video calls
:heavy_plus_sign: Automatically scans telephones contacts for other Signal users
:heavy_plus_sign: can additionally also be used as standard SMS, MMS messenger (unsecured)
:heavy_plus_sign: Easy to switch which SIM card to use when sending SMS (only on Android 5 and higher. Long press and select on send button.)
:heavy_plus_sign: Signal reduced metadata storage to a minimum, only the date of registration and the last day you connected to the service gets stored. More info here)
:heavy_plus_sign: There is also a version, which works without Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) (https://signal.org/android/apk/ This version uses websockets and may consume more battery than the GCM version. It will auto-update itself)
:heavy_plus_sign: multi-device support
:heavy_plus_sign: possibility for disappearing messages
:heavy_plus_sign: Ability to send any kind of files (.pdf, .doc, etc.)
:heavy_plus_sign: can additionally be installed from https://signal.org/android/apk/ and will auto-update itself (does not use GCM)
:heavy_plus_sign: can additionally be installed through Yalp, without Google Account and without Google Mobile Services. Yalp is available in F-Droid.
:heavy_minus_sign: lack of widespread user base
:heavy_minus_sign: not available on F-droid (but in https://fdroid.eutopia.cz/ LibreSignal [abandoned]) / currently need of Google account for Android-Version, see discussion on Github) (install APK from signal.org or via Yalp, see above)
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use Signal as well!
:heavy_minus_sign: registration via telephone number only

Skype

:heavy_plus_sign: Video calls
:heavy_plus_sign: communicates with computer-based users
:heavy_plus_sign: no telephone number needed for registration
:heavy_minus_sign: Closed source
:heavy_minus_sign: Owned by Microsoft: Intelligences like the NSA are able to intercept your calls
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use Skype as well!
:heavy_minus_sign: no end to end encryption

Telegram

Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, FirefoxOS, UbuntuTouch, Browser, Mac, PC, Linux
Can share photos, videos, audio, contacts, location, files, etc.
:heavy_plus_sign: Telegram client is open source
:heavy_plus_sign: Similar Functionality as WhatsApp, therefore easy for people that are used to WhatsApp.
:heavy_plus_sign: Ability to send any kind of files (.pdf, .doc, etc.)
:heavy_plus_sign: Automatically scans telephones contacts for other Telegram-users
:heavy_minus_sign: Telegram server not open
:heavy_minus_sign: Questionable encryption (see Wikipedia)
:heavy_minus_sign: end to end encryption is deactivated per default
:heavy_minus_sign: group chats can’t be end to end encrypted
:heavy_minus_sign: lack of widespread user base
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use Telegram as well!
:heavy_minus_sign: registration via telephone number only (you can choose a username so that other users cannot see your phone number)

Threema

Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Amazon Fire OS
A full-grown messenger with focus on privacy and encryption.
:heavy_plus_sign: End to end encryption
:heavy_plus_sign: Lots of privacy settings
:heavy_plus_sign: Ability to send any kind of files (.pdf, .doc, etc.)
:heavy_plus_sign: New design, clean look
:heavy_plus_sign: Ability to do surveys
:heavy_plus_sign: Works without Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) and polls new messages every 5/15/30 minutes
:heavy_plus_sign: Can be used completely anonymously
:heavy_minus_sign: Lacks users, not very widespread
:heavy_minus_sign: Account bound to one device
:heavy_minus_sign: Closed source, thus claimed encryption cannot be verified
:heavy_minus_sign: No test version
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use Threema as well!
:moneybag: One-time purchase of license (no recurring charges)

Whatsapp

Platforms: Android, iOS, Blackberry, Symbian, Nokia S40, Windows Phone, Browser
Can share photos, music, contacts, videos, voice messages.
:heavy_plus_sign: It is the most widespread messenger.
:heavy_plus_sign: end to end encryption (provided by OWS, the makers of Signal)
:heavy_minus_sign: Belongs to Facebook, hence connected to privacy concerns – they do analyze your metadata
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use Whatsapp as well!
:heavy_minus_sign: Closed source, thus claimed encryption cannot be verified
:heavy_minus_sign: they copy all phone numbers in your address book on their servers
:heavy_minus_sign: registration via telephone number only

XMPP Clients (Conversations/Xabber)

XMPP is a robust, well established protocol upon which applications can build for easy and interoperable messaging.

:heavy_plus_sign: extensible through XEPs (XMPP Extensions).
:heavy_plus_sign: Does not require a Google Account or specifically Google Cloud Messaging (GCM)
:heavy_plus_sign: No walled-garden: Your buddies can also use ANY XMPP-Server to chat with you! (XMPP is a federated protocol, which means you can freely choose a trustworthy server for yourself while still chatting with contacts that are using other servers.)
:heavy_plus_sign: can be used completely anonymously
:heavy_minus_sign: No secure encryption as default
:heavy_minus_sign: lack of widespread user base, but it is possible to change ! Google chat is supported though.

Conversations

Platforms: Android 4.0+ (But you can use ANY other XMPP software at various platforms to chat with)
Conversations is a Jabber/XMPP client for Android 4.0+ smartphones that has been optimized to provide a unique mobile experience.
Design principles
• Be as beautiful and easy to use as possible without sacrificing security or privacy
• Require as little permissions as possible

:heavy_plus_sign: Fully Open Source, free at F-Droid, or :moneybag: at Playstore
:heavy_plus_sign: end-to-end-encryption (OMEMO) available with open source (also PGP and OTR support)
:heavy_plus_sign: You can use ANY XMPP/Jabber² service you like (existing thousands), Creating new account can be done via the App, only username/password neccassary!
:heavy_plus_sign: high grade of privacy: none private informations are gatherd (no Adressbook crawling)
:heavy_minus_sign: Not available for non-android-based telephones (though XMPP clients exist for every platform and are interoperable)

Kontalk

Platforms: Android (Play Store, F-Droid), Java client (requires Android app at the moment)
:heavy_plus_sign: Automatically finds all contacts in your address book using phone number hashes as Jabber ID
:heavy_plus_sign: Version on F-Droid doesn’t connect to GCM (Connection policy)
:heavy_plus_sign: FLOSS
:heavy_plus_sign: end-to-end-encrypted
:heavy_plus_sign: very customisable
:heavy_minus_sign:No group chat (will be implemented in December 2016)
:heavy_minus_sign: No flawless federation with other XMPP networks yet.

Xabber

Platforms: Android 4.0+ but an alternative version (FDroid link) is available and still updated for devices between Android 1.5 and 3.2.
Advantages and inconvenients are quite the same as Conversation’s, though it’s UI is different and :
:heavy_plus_sign: Highly customisable
:heavy_plus_sign: Support for old versions of Android
:heavy_minus_sign: Less encryption options

Facebook Messenger

:heavy_minus_sign: Belongs to Facebook, hence connected to privacy concerns.
:heavy_minus_sign: end to end encryption is deactivated per default

SIMSme

:heavy_plus_sign: end-to-end authentication and encryption
:heavy_plus_sign: self-destroying messages possible
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use SIMSme as well!

Wire

Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, Internet Browser
:heavy_plus_sign: everything is end-to-end encrypted (audiocalls, videocalls, text, pictures, files)
:heavy_plus_sign: ability to send any kind of files up to 25 mb (.pdf, .doc, etc.)
:heavy_plus_sign: communicates with computer-based users
:heavy_plus_sign: clients and server are open source (see Golem.de)
:heavy_plus_sign: self-destroying messages possible
:heavy_plus_sign: free
:heavy_plus_sign: use of telephone contacs is optional (and anonymized, only hash values of contact data is submitted)
:heavy_plus_sign: multi-device support
:heavy_plus_sign: Works without Google Cloud Messaging (GCM), uses WebSocket connection instead
:heavy_plus_sign: Possibility of registration with mail address only
:heavy_minus_sign: lack of widespread user base
:heavy_minus_sign: not available on F-droid yet (but APK file is directly available from website)
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use Wire as well!

Ring

Platforms: Android, Linux, macOS, Windows
:heavy_plus_sign: everything is end-to-end encrypted (audiocalls, videocalls, text, pictures, files)
:heavy_plus_sign: no central server, completely p2p
:heavy_plus_sign: free
:heavy_plus_sign: multi-device support
:heavy_minus_sign: registration via telephone number only

Tox

Platforms: a variety of clients is available for Android (with own F-Droid repo), Linux, macOS, Windows, iOS
:heavy_plus_sign: everything is end-to-end encrypted (audiocalls, videocalls, text, pictures, files)
:heavy_plus_sign: no central server, completely p2p
:heavy_plus_sign: free and open-source
:heavy_plus_sign: multi-device support
:heavy_plus_sign: can be used completely anonymously
:heavy_minus_sign: Walled-garden: your buddies have to use Tox as well!
:heavy_minus_sign: no offline messaging, both contacts have to be online at the same time to chat (and even to complete a friend request)

RCS(-e)/Joyn/Message+

:heavy_plus_sign: Standardized.
:heavy_plus_sign: No walled-garden: The app is provided by your mobile provider.
:heavy_plus_sign: No additional account required.
:heavy_plus_sign: It’s planned that this is pre-installed on future devices.
:heavy_minus_sign: Must be explicitly supported by your mobile provider.
:heavy_minus_sign: Now, it’s not pre-installed. Your buddies have to install the app too.
:heavy_minus_sign: Prices are not consistent. Someone could use it for free, other must pay per call minute or message. Criticized as an attempt of the mobile providers to make more money.
:heavy_minus_sign: coupled with telephone number

Old-school: SMS

:heavy_plus_sign: Standardized.
:heavy_plus_sign: Supported by nearly every mobile phone, even the old dumbphones. Or you can use a specialized website or some webmails for writing SMS messages.
:heavy_plus_sign: You have many choices which app you use for SMS.
:heavy_plus_sign: SMS can also be sent or arrive without Wi-Fi/mobile data connection.
:heavy_plus_sign: Possibility of automatically sending messages
:heavy_minus_sign: Plain-text only. You cannot send formatted text, images, photos or videos with SMS messages.
:heavy_minus_sign: Not necessarily included with your data plan. If you have to pay per-message, you pay the per-message fee per 153 characters if your message exceeds 160 characters.
:heavy_minus_sign: No end-to-end encryption out-of-the-box.
:heavy_minus_sign: coupled with telephone number

Old-school: MMS

:heavy_plus_sign: Standardized.
:heavy_plus_sign: Supported by nearly every smartphone, old mobile phones will receive a SMS message with instructions to get the message with a computer anyway. Or you can use a specialized website or some webmails for writing MMS messages.
:heavy_plus_sign: You have many choices which app you use for MMS.
:heavy_plus_sign: Possibility of automatically sending messages
:heavy_plus_sign: Support for formatted text, images, pictures, videos, …
:heavy_minus_sign: Very high per-message fees (for example 0.39€)
:heavy_minus_sign: No end-to-end encryption out-of-the-box.
:heavy_minus_sign: Some mobile providers disabled MMS because of the Stagefright security hole.
:heavy_minus_sign: coupled with telephone number

Old-school: E-mail

:heavy_plus_sign: Standardized.
:heavy_plus_sign: Nearly every person has an e-mail account.
:heavy_plus_sign: E-mails can be sent and received by nearly all communication devices (on PC/laptops with application or webmail, smartphones/tablets, even some dumbphones and printers).
:heavy_plus_sign: You have many choices which app you use for e-mail.
:heavy_plus_sign: Possibility of automatically sending messages
:heavy_plus_sign: End-to-end encyryption possible with S/MIME, OpenPGP or encrypted files.
:heavy_plus_sign: You can attach files of every type on a message.
:heavy_minus_sign: Not all e-mail applications support all features (such as HTML e-mails or end-to-end encryption).
:heavy_minus_sign: Chatting is not really comfortable.


:de: Kann die Originale SMS-Software ersetzt werden?
Did anyone try Wire - the chat videocall app?
How to send a picture with Messenger App - like MMS
:de: MMS Konfiguration klappt nicht
:pencil2: Advantages/Disadvantages of Google Messenger over Signal
Android 6 default messaging app
Signal or equivalent on FPOOS?
:fr: Recevoir des sms par la wifi
SMS delivery message
What is the advantage of FPOOS + OpenGAPPS over FPOS?
#3

Thanks for the list. I’d add that Signal, while opensource and IRRC, uses Google Mobile Services to send the messages through their own servers. This means they can read your metadata (which is kind of a prerequisite if you want to have your recipient actually receive your message, however with XMPP you and your recipient choose who has access to this metadata, since you can choose your providers). Correct me if I am wrong.

I’d add Xabber which has the same advantages and inconvenients than Conversations, with a better user interface according to my tastes. Beginners, please note there are XMPP clients for all platforms so a Conversations or Xabber user can talk with someone on his computer or iPhone flawlessly provided they both have a XMPP adress.


#4

If you’d like to add Xabber, go ahead (press the green pencil)! :slight_smile: However I suggest to not add it as its own point, but include it in XMPP-clients (e.g. “Conversations / Xabber”).


#5

Oww now that’s a sexy feature I completely missed out because I didn’t read the title in its entirety :stuck_out_tongue:


#6

Signal can be used/installed without Google, here Info in German, but it had to be renamed to LibreSignal

one has to add
https://eutopia.cz/experimental/fdroid/repo/
to the fdroid-resources first.

– Franz


#7

Irssi anyone? :wink:

I think Signal is most likely to come out as the best alternative…
Another alternative is Surespot, but I do not think it will come far; it is pretty ugly…


#8

Google Hangouts is missing from this list?
One plus for Hangouts is that you can configure it to be your SMS client as well and both types of messaging integrate seamlessly in one app.


#9

You could add “myenigma” as another free end-to-end-enrypted messenger.


#10

It’s a wiki post, you can add it yourself :slight_smile:


#11

I added Facebook Messenger, SIMSme, RCS(-e)/Joyn/Message+ and the old-school communication protocols SMS, MMS and e-mail.


#12

What about WeChat ?


#13

Development of MyEnigma has been dismissed.


#14

Anyone tried QKSMS? It is also available on F-Droid.
Everything seems to work fine but I have a bug with autodata to send/sent MMS. Not sure if it is because of QKSMS, FP or my mobile company (Free mobile).


#15

Is the eutopia.cz F-Droid still working? I face problems updating the package sources since about 2 weeks…?


#16

You could use iCirklShareapp.It’s a new mobile messaging app for iPhone and android users.iCirklshareapp is coming soon.iCirklShare is a new live video calling app that gives you fun ways to connect with your friends.Be ready to feel the experience of iCirklShareapp.

  • Free text

  • Create,Join & Share a Cirkls

  • Online video calling, inactive alerts

For more detail please visit: http://www.icirklshareapp.com/


#17

Threema:

[quote=“Stefan, post:1, topic:10893”]
:warning: The license can alternatively be purchased on the official website. You won’t receive automatic updates if you choose that way but it is possible to update manually from inside the app.[/quote]It’s not true, I bought the app from their Website together with licences and get iformation about updates on automatic.


#18

Interesting to read…

Ring vs Signal vs Vector vs Wire vs Jitsi vs Ekiga vs Tox, what is really the best secure, private, trustworthy and functional alternative to Skype???


#19

and there is this:

Brian Lunduke testing texting-apps


#20

I added Tox and amended Wire, which i prefer.

When it comes to messaging-only applications, one should consider taking a closer look at the Matrix ecosystem, especially the Riot clients.

Back in the days I also used Kontalk, but it’s rather limited in functionality and available only on Android (and beta-ish Desktops), so I decided not to add it here.

Cheers


#21

Kontalk is in active development, and the next stable release will implement group chat! :smiley: Currently @stanzi and me are testing alpha7: