WhatsApp, Signal and Co.
What is the best messenger?
03/12/2022, 6:17 PM
Messenger apps are somewhat similar. However, upon closer examination, they differ strikingly. The main differences at a glance.
Messenger apps are indispensable to many people. Which of them is the best also depends on individual factors. Is availability the priority or is the connection secure? Are many functions important or simple design? Many messaging services are similar in the way they work, and it is the right service for whom users have to evaluate themselves based on their needs. These are the pros and cons of the most famous apostles.
Perhaps the fact that Facebook SMS is one of the most popular services is mainly due to the huge number of Facebook users. Some of them have installed the associated app on their mobile devices and are using it. The Google Play Store currently has more than five billion downloads. Unlike many other messaging services, you don’t need a phone number, having a Facebook account is enough. An email address is required for this. If you don’t have a Facebook account vice versa, you can register with a phone number and use Messenger.
As far as functionality, the messenger offers much that the user’s heart desires: individual and group chats (up to 250 people), emojis, GIFs, audio and video calls (up to 50 people). If you want to send files via Messenger, you will find a maximum size of 25MB, and the maximum duration of videos is four hours.
However, users have to make compromises when it comes to privacy: anyone who agrees to Facebook’s terms and conditions agrees that Facebook will collect “content, communications and other information”. End-to-end encryption can be activated for conversations between two people. Meta also announced this in January for group chats, calls, and video phone calls.
Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp was launched in 2009 focusing only on sending messages. The company wanted to enable users to send unlimited messages for free. The fact that a phone number is necessary for this is due to the fact that WhatsApp saw itself as an alternative to classic SMS. As many people jumped into the shopping cart in no time, Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014. Today, WhatsApp is the ultimate messaging app for many. To date, more than five billion downloads have been accumulated worldwide here on the Play Store.
The range of functions is large and advanced: chat in privacy and in groups (up to 256 people), emojis, GIFs, audio and video calls (up to eight people), one-time messaging, and voice messages. Although users can send files, the size of photos, videos, and voice messages is limited to 16MB – no other provider is so stingy. For this purpose, the communication is encrypted end-to-end by default, which the company does not want to change in the future. There is also a desktop version and a browser version for the computer, where users connect to the mobile device via a QR code.
Because of data protection, WhatsApp has had to struggle with its dwindling number of users in the past, data protection advocates have warned that the company is sharing its data with parent company Meta. However, the company has always rejected these claims, saying that end-to-end encryption should not be weakened. Among other things, WhatsApp has defended itself against the Indian government’s attempt to abandon the principle of end-to-end encryption in favor of law enforcement.
Signal is one of the biggest winners from Meta’s lax privacy policies. The messenger app has been developed under the name TextSecure since 2010, followed by the launch of Signal in 2014. In the opening speech, whistleblower Edward Snowden (38 years old) promoted the use of the app, saying that it is easy to use and secure. Since February 2020, Signal has been the European Commission’s recommended messaging service for itself and its employees to communicate securely. When businessman Elon Musk, 50, tweeted in January 2021: “Use of signal,” the rush was so great that SMS verification was temporarily overburdened on the same day.
The scope of Signal’s functionality is the same as that of WhatsApp. From a maximum file size of 100 MB (200 MB for videos) to one-time voice messages to the desktop version of the app: regular users will find everything they need for mutual communication in Signal. Signal also allows group chats with up to 1,000 participants, and up to 40 people can participate in video calls at the same time. Signal users don’t have to put up with real flaws, the only question is whether Signal is now prevalent among the circle of friends, family and acquaintances like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
Since Telegram allows groups of up to 200,000 members, the app has become a popular alternative to Facebook in recent years. Similar to a social network’s follow button, users can join public groups with a simple click. In recent years, this low hurdle has attracted many people who feel intimidated by platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. As a result, the news service is increasingly in disrepair, and there have been calls to ban the app in recent months as the lateral thinker and neo-Nazi scene increasingly organizes itself via Telegram.
However, Telegram has a lot to offer in terms of technical functionality that the competition cannot offer. For example, Telegram users can share files up to 2GB in size, and up to 1,000 video call participants are allowed. The other range of functionality is the same as the competition, but there are criticisms of data protection: Depending on its terms and conditions, Telegram may store data such as an IP address or information about devices on which the app is installed up to twelve months. End-to-end encryption is also a standard for video calls and so-called “secret chats”.
The Swiss messaging app Threema is the only paid one among the listed apps. The app costs €3.99 for a one-time basis on both the App Store and Play Store. In return, users get a messenger that has nothing to complain about in terms of data protection and security: end-to-end encryption ensures a secure connection, and tracking services are not used. Threema can also be fully used if you don’t want to give the app your phone number or give access to the phone book. Instead, users receive their own Threema ID after installation. Here Threema is a step ahead of Signal itself.
The scope of functionality is similar to other messaging apps, but the focus on privacy can be felt all around. Individual chats can be secured with a fingerprint or contacts verified with a QR code, and Threema does not automatically sync between different terminals. Sending files is limited to 50MB in size, up to 256 people can participate in group chats, and currently only two people can make video calls.
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