WhatsApp has become ubiquitous with mobile messaging, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re suffering from WhatsApp fatigue or you don’t like the privacy issues with this Facebook-owned app, here are the best WhatsApp alternatives you should look into.
When it comes to WhatsApp alternatives, Signal is at the forefront. Its popularity is largely because of the company’s stance on user privacy. Signal is an end-to-end encrypted app, just like WhatsApp. The messaging service promises that all your data is encrypted and can’t be viewed by Signal or third parties. It’s a relatively small company run by a not-for-profit organization and survives on donations.
What sets Signal apart, though, is the fact that the app is open source. All of its code is available online and is up for public scrutiny. This means that if there is any privacy issue in Signal, it can be checked by security experts. In fact, WhatsApp’s in-house encryption system is built using Signal’s code.
When it comes to user experience, Signal is quite similar to WhatsApp, and won’t be a big hurdle switching from WhatsApp to Signal. They both have a similar interface for sending messages, creating groups, making group voice and video calls (up to eight participants), sending stickers, and more.
Telegram has been touted as the best alternative for WhatsApp for a long time now because of its stance on privacy and its suite of features.
The messaging service lets you create groups with up to 200,000 users and share files of up to 2GB for free. There are public channels and self-destructing messages (unlike WhatsApp’s disappearing messages).
Telegram’s list of unique features is quite long. For instance, Telegram Bots. This feature lets you integrate different services and automation right into Telegram using chatbots.
The app has end-to-end encrypted chats, but the default chats are also stored on Telegram’s servers. If you want real, device-to-device encrypted chat, you can use the Secret Mode feature. Once enabled, messages are only stored on your phone. If one person deletes a message, it is deleted from both devices.
Telegram can be used for free, and it’s available on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. While Telegram doesn’t have a web version like WhatsApp, it has support for great third-party desktop clients (something that’s sorely missing from WhatsApp).
Discord started out as a game chat platform, but it has evolved into something so much more. It’s now touted as an alternative to both Slack and WhatsApp, depending on your needs.
Discord is a server-based messaging app, but it also has a private message feature that’s very similar to WhatsApp. From its “Friends” tab, you can add friends using their username or gamer tags. You can then use Discord for private messaging, group chats, group calls, media sharing, and more. You can also create a group chat with up to 10 friends. If you need more, you can always start your own Discord server.
Discord is free, feature-rich, and private. Unlike Signal and Telegram, you don’t need to share your phone number, or even your real name to use Discord on iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux.
If you want to turn up the security key to 11, take a look at Keybase. Keybase started out as a key directory for private and public identifier keys, but it also has an end-to-end encrypted messaging component.
The messaging feature can be used for private messaging, groups, and teams. Keybase is an open-source app and uses public-key cryptography to protect messages. Messages, media, and file transfers are protected in such a way that even Keybase can’t read your messages.
Threema takes security really seriously and it’s not afraid to charge for it. You pay a one-time fee when buying the app ($2.99), and in return, you get end-to-end encryption for all data that passes through the messaging service. This includes messages, video calls, files, and even status updates.
The company lets you chat anonymously and there’s no need to link a phone number or email to your account (they are optional). The service generates a random Threema ID when you first start using the app that other users can use to communicate with you.
Threema doesn’t collect any user data and doesn’t show any ads. It’s a Swiss-made app with servers hosted in Switzerland.
The app doesn’t skimp on features either. You get your usual text messaging, voice calls, video calls, file sharing, groups, lists, and access to a desktop web client. Threema is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and web.
Not ready to jump ship away from WhatsApp? Here’s how you can secure your WhatsApp account and data.
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