As we discussed extensively here at 9to5Mac, Facebook’s suite of applications has not been available for hours: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. If you’re looking for an alternative to WhatsApp for cross-platform encrypted communication, the top options are below.
When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $ 19 billion, the messaging app reassured users that the acquisition would not change their focus on user privacy and “as little as possible about you.” In 2016, WhatsApp started sharing data with Facebook by default, but users still had the option to log out.
But switching from WhatsApp to alternatives is not as easy as you might think. For many people, WhatsApp is a primary tool for communicating with friends and family, and while those of us intertwined in the tech community may be ready to make the switch, not all will feel the same way.
WhatsApp is referred to by many as the real cross-platform messaging solution the world needs. Despite some concerns over the years, messaging remains end-to-end encrypted so that Facebook (as it currently stands) cannot see the content of messages.
Of course, the ideal solution for Apple is to bring iMessage to Android and Windows, but it is very unlikely that such a move would even be considered these days. Just as one solution for simple, cross-platform, encrypted video communication would be to transfer FaceTime to non-Apple devices.
Nonetheless, here are some alternatives to WhatsApp for cross-platform encrypted messaging.
Signal has seen a dramatic surge in popularity over the past year as people turned to new platforms for encrypted communication. The app supports group text and audio messaging, as well as audio and video calls. It is compatible with IPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, Linux and Android.
Compared to WhatsApp, Signal makes its focus on data protection clear. There are a variety of taps throughout the Signal application to emphasize this focus, including things like media unique viewing, Signal PIN, and more. Signal is also an independent non-profit organization, which means that development is supported solely through donations from users.
Signal uses end-to-end encryption for message delivery based on the Signal protocol, and does not log any metadata about messages or users. The app privacy label in the App Store indicates that Signal does not collect any data associated with users. A report from The Wall Street Journal more details:
The app also doesn’t log a lot of information (metadata) about the type of message itself. “Signal is committed to storing as little data as possible and still providing services,” says Lujo Bauer, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University.
If you are looking for a new messaging application that has the greatest focus on privacy and encryption, Signal is an excellent option. Signal is available in the App Store as a free download.
Telegram is one of the most popular alternatives to WhatsApp and offers a cross-platform messaging solution with end-to-end encryption that is also completely free. In fact, Telegram claims to be more secure than WhatsApp because of its use MTProto protocol:
Telegram is more secure than mass market messengers like WhatsApp and Line. We are based on the MTProto protocol which is based on proven algorithms to make security compatible with high speed delivery and reliability on weak links. We are continuously working with the community to improve the security of our protocol and our customers.
To protect data other than the encrypted messages themselves, Telegram says it uses a distributed infrastructure. “The relevant decryption keys are divided into parts and are never kept in the same place as the protected data,” explains the company.
The new app privacy labels in the App Store show three pieces of data that “can be collected and associated with your identity,” including contact information, contacts, and identifiers.
Telegram is available on the App store as a free download.
Again, as I wrote at the beginning of this article, switching from WhatsApp to something like Telegram or Signal isn’t quite as seamless as it may seem. Neither of the apps has caught WhatsApp mainstream adoption, but if you want to be the anti-Facebook force among your friends and family, Signal and Telegram are both great alternatives.
A third party tool that could help is one called Watomaticthat is supposed to tell your WhatsApp contacts that you have completely switched messaging services.
Do you have any other recommendations? Are you planning to stick with WhatsApp despite the increasing connections with Facebook? Let us know in the comments below!