Signal as the default messenger for all Fairphones?

Hey there,

with Signal by Open Whisper Systems gaining popularity and becoming more and more advanced, (at least in my opinion) the application is a very good alternative to other messenger services, i.e. those shipped out with Android by default. Would it be possible for Fairphone to use Signal as their main, default messagin app?

Aside from being an internet messaging application, Signal can also function as a normal SMS messaging app. It is no different to the default Android messaging app, it is even possible to switch between SMS and Signal protocols. More importantly, Signal is fully Open Source and has been reviewed by security experts.

Such a "partnership/collaboration would really boost Signal’s popularity and recognition. I would assume that many Fairphone users have Signal installed anyway, given its nature.

What do you think? Should it be considered doing so or would it be better if Fairphone did not pre-install third-party applications?


I don’t use Signal, mainly because of its zentralized walled-garden nature. We don’t need a second Whatsapp with all its downsides.

Fairphone OS should stay as Vanilla as possible without too much bloatware.


I’m am not sure if Signals Server is also Open Source. Furthermore, Signal requires Google Play Services (GCM/Firebase Cloud Messaging) to work and Signal is hesitant regarding distribution trough a third-party.

They laid out there reasons for this and I find them understandable. However, that makes default distribution with Fairphones somewhat unlikely.

In general, I like the idea, thought. :+1: I know that Wire Messenger is currently planning to open-source the complete infrastructure. If and when this happens and it is possible to build and use Wire with and without Google Cloud/Firebase Messaging, that might be an alternative. What do you think?


I wouldn’t like to have that choice made for me, either. I’m using Jabber together with the app Conversations and the OMEMO encryption: Decentralized, open source and what I find very helpful: With Gajim I can use the same account on Windows or Linux computers with encryption, too, so when working at a computer I don’t have to use my phone to write a message while I have a fully featured keyboard available anyway.
If we had gateways between the many messengers that would be cool. Jabber used to have the server side option to connect to ICQ and other messengers so that you still needed to have accounts there but you could limit yourself to your favorite Jabber program/app while still being able to talk to contacts on all channels.


As far as I know, Signals server is open source. Moreover, Signal does not require Google Play Services (GCM) anymore - there is an independent way to download and install the apk directly, see https://signal.org/android/apk/.
Apart from that, I agree that it’s not reasonable to pick one special (random) messenger as a default on the FP2 or any Android system.

  • Signal is “open source”, not “free software”. -> No thanks!
  • Signal is not available on F-Droid. -> No thanks!
  • Signal is not endorsed by PrismBreak. -> No thanks!
  • Signal claims downloading the App from the G%§$e play store is “safe”. -> No thanks!

I see no reason to use Signal at all.


At least “Signal protocol”, the encryption protocol is open source.

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Whats the problem with PrismBreak?

Although I use Signal, my opinion is that Fairphone should not pre-install appications when it is not necessary, that means, if the pre-installation does not have benefits over a user-initiated installation via Google Play, F-Droid or an APK. We don’t need tons of pre-installed apps which waste the memory of the phone because not everyone uses it. A user-initiated installation of Signal is possible without problems, as I did.


I like the idea. I have the Google Messenger App disabled and use Signal for SMS.

I think for the most basic functions like phone calls and SMS the apps should be preinstalled. And I would prefere Signal to the Google Messenger as default app for SMS.


I don’t think Fairphone should come with any chat app preinstalled. I prefer the closest to stock android.

Besides, if I had to choose an alternative to whatsapp I’d rather use a decentralized protocol like xmpp (jabber). I like conversations or zom for chat, and jitsi for videocalling (zom and jitsi aren’t in f-droid yet, but they should be added soon).


FWIW, there appears to be an official Signal Server written in Java.

As for OP suggestion. Maybe have the browser choice screen of Windows XP N :stuck_out_tongue:. Problem with your suggestion is default apps like these are never going to make everyone happy. For example, I’d like to see Firefox as the default browser, but that won’t happen either (and “apps” are using an embedded version of Blink/Chrome anyway). Hopefully PWA is going to make a difference here, giving users back control of the software on their smartdevices.

Right now, with regards to IM the Western world is using WhatsApp as IM (and, worse some are using Telegram as alternative, as well as WeChat in China). If you want people to switch from these to Signal, give them 1) incentive (e.g. education) and 2) backwards compatibility (ideal) or seamless switching (less ideal). Educate them with the pros and cons of each IM. Here’s an attempt by Dutch equiv to EFF called Bits of Freedom (BoF). Then installing Signal isn’t much hassle. Without these 2 factors, adding it as default isn’t going to make the difference. They’ll just swap to whatever is the most popular option.

What makes a bigger difference is adding E2EE to current protocols which is what happened with WhatsApp, and recently Skype.

Also, the GDPR might help to combat the data sharing of businesses like Facebook (owner of WhatsApp).

Also, Signal has the downside of not being a federated protocol like SMTP (together with IMAP the 2 protocols used for e-mail) and XMMP (“Jabber”) are which is by design. The argument is silly though; it boils down to “if the standard is open, and the software is open source, a closed source fork can occur”. Well, duh. And it all depends on DNS(SEC) and BGP plus PKI under the hood.

Add to that the refusal of being available outside GCM and…

…alas, Signal isn’t the panacea of IM. By design!

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Do you mean “Progressive web apps” or something else? And could you explain more why they provide better privacy? Thanks!

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Thanks for the link, quite interesting. It would have been useful to provide a bit more information why you are posting this here. I read the article anyways, and figure it’s about the bad implementation of key changes in Wire, right?

But in the interest of a good discussion, a summary would have been very helpful and welcome!

Yes, a PWA is basically a website but then working like an “app”. For the website owner, it just looks like a regular visitor. For the user, it looks like an “app”. With a PWA, you (ie. the user) are the one in control, not whoever made the “app”. With a PWA you get to decide which browser (and rendering engine) you use, you have the freedom to override all the CSS however you see fit (e.g. change the color or the font or hide some elements) and you get to decide which addons the PWA uses including for example an adblocker. At the same time, a commercial website doesn’t have to develop an “app” nor do they have to maintain it. Which saves them costs. In short, it reverts the WWW less into the walled garden it is nowadays. I have no issue whatsoever [EDIT: (*)] with a newspaper asking subscription access to their news, but I do have an issue with them forcing me to see their content in the way they see fit, and only that way. That’s not the way the WWW was intended to be. Nor did protocols like Gopher, Usenet (NNTP) and e-mail (SMTP/POP3/IMAP) work that way, for that matter.

(*) Its not sustainable regarding data because information wants to be free, just like when a GPG encrypted message with one of the people able to decrypt having incentive to share the unencrypted data. We need to think of alternative methods to consume news, such as Blendle.


Content of the post is described in the title, summary of the whole post is at the top (though it isn’t named as such), conclusion is at the bottom. Unless you really don’t want to visit medium.com I don’t see the problem.

The protocols being discussed are WhatsApp, Signal, Allo, Wire, and Telegram. The latter two don’t communicate key changes well (or, if you want to be negative, contain a dark pattern regarding key changes).

From looking at the title alone, it’s not clear why the link is relevant. It’s just a nice and friendly practice to tell others why a specific, especially longer, piece of information is relevant in a discussion when linking it.


Like many others in this topic, I opt for a Fairphone without pre-installed apps.
I, for my part, am an avid fan of Threema as a messenger app. For those who are unacquainted with it: threema.ch is worth looking into.


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