In a world where almost everyone is crying foul over messaging apps listening in to your conversations and using certain keywords to serve you ads, it’s a surprise that what is considered the most secure messaging platform has less than 100 Million users globally.
Although the issues of apps listening in to your conversations has not been proven, other security issues have been proven when it comes to the usual messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and even the slightly less popular Telegram.
Signal, a messaging app dedicated to offering privacy at its core, has been around for a number of years now. A good number of journalists use it to protect their sources, governments are now turning to using the platform and privacy crusaders speak about it day and night.
Despite this, I barely have 10 of my 400 contacts using Signal. Even the ones who have accounts, hardly use it anymore. So why is Signal struggling to catch up with the likes of WhatsApp and Telegram?
It’s Just Not Enough
For the few days that I actually used Signal on the daily, I was able to pick out a few things about it that made me crawl back to the popular platforms.
To begin with, there are no extras beyond messaging and making video calls (which we will get to in a few). WhatsApp has stories and hundreds of stickers which makes the otherwise annoying platform entertaining. Telegram on the other hand has groups and channels among other features that have pushed the growth of the platform over the past few years.
See, Signal is simple maybe a bit too simple. You use it to text serious stuff, make a few voice calls and maybe a video call and you’re done. It’s not an entertainment platform and it was not built to be so. Speaking of video calls, they really suck. Maybe it’s because of all the encryption happening but the quality of the audio and video is low.
Lastly, as one of the most unfortunate things, there’s no messages cloud backup. You can only create a backup on your device and if you switch devices, that’s how you lose all your messages. Oh, and it also lacks features such as editing of messages despite having disappearing messages built in.
But It’s Not All Bad
There are things that work well. First, you can customize each individual contact’s theme – which isn’t such a big deal but it’s good to have these things.
Secondly, the app doubles as an SMS app, which brings all your messages into one platfrom making it seamless to use.
There’s also an in-built Note to self feature that you can use to send messages to yourself or save documents for access later on. Signal has also built dekstop versions of the service, which is a good thing but they are apps you have to download and not just a web platform like we have with WhatsApp and Telegram (as much as Telegram also has an app).
Other features such as Group messaging are available on the app and like we mentioned earlier, there’s audio and video calls too as basic as they may be.
Would We Recommend it?
If you are dealing with state secrets or doing some high risk communication then you probably already use Signal. However, for the everyday chaps, switching to Signal will be a hard ask and not something that we can outrightly recommend.