As we know, Facebook now owns WhatsApp. Facebook purchased the whole WhatsApp platform for $16 billion worth of stock and cash. Since Facebook is not a company that many people trust when it comes to their privacy, the purchase of WhatsApp has made many users delete the app from their smartphones. Most recently, the tech giant was fined nearly $270 million by European Union regulators for not disclosing what it exactly does with WhatsApp users’ data.
But if you enjoy using messaging apps like WhatsApp instead of the regular messaging (SMS, RCS) app that comes pre-installed on your phone, WhatsApp is not the only messaging app for smartphone users. There are a ton of messaging apps for Android and iOS users, with better privacy and more features than WhatsApp. Here are a few of them…
Developed by Switzerland-based company Threema GmbH, the Threema messaging app is one of the most privacy-oriented app you’ll ever find. Due to many of its privacy mechanisms, you can be sure that only you and the intended recipient will read your messages. Two important privacy and security mechanisms that the app uses are end-to-end encryption (E2EE), and that the app itself is an open-source application. This means that while no one can intercept your messages, any individual or external entity can examine the app for malicious codes.
On top of that, since Threema is not financed by advertisements, the app does not collect any type of user data. Another aspect that makes Threema even more secure is that its whole infrastructure (servers) is hosted in Switzerland, a country with strong privacy laws and independent from the USA and the European Union. Unlike most other messaging apps, Threema doesn’t even require a phone number or an email address.
Threema is available for iPhone, Android, and desktop computers for a one-time price of $3.99.
Signal is another great option for those interested in a great WhatsApp alternative. The Signal messaging app is an app developed by the non-profit Signal Technology Foundation. Like Threema, Signal also uses end-to-end encryption technology to fully protect your conventions from unwanted attention. The app uses its own end-to-end encryption protocol called the Signal Protocol. The Signal Protocol is an open-source cryptographic protocol even used by tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
This protocol was also intensively reviewed by a group of academic security researchers on which they found that the Signal Protocol “provides useful security properties.”
Since the Signal Technology Foundation does not rely on ads to generate any revenue, the app does not track your internet usage around. Unlike Threema, the Signal app is completely free and funded through users donations. The non-profit organization currently accepts fiat and cryptocurrencies as donations.
You can download Signal for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, and Mac computers. A phone number is required for this app.
Element is a relatively new chat app with a great user interface. The app offers end-to-end encrypted communication while offering additional security features. For example, if you don’t trust Elemen’s own servers you can host your data on your own server. The app is built off the Matrix Project which offers many unique features that other messaging apps don’t offer.
Based on the Matrix Project, Element offers E2EE communication. Also thanks to the Matrix bridging services, you can communicate with other users that do not have the Element app but are using alternative messaging apps such Microsoft Teams, Slack, Signal, Telegram, and even WhatsApp.
The Element app also does not require a phone number. The app lets you add a phone number but it’s optional.
You can download Element on a handful of devices including iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, and even Linux.
Excluding Facebook Msssegnger, Telegram is the WhatsApp alternative with the most active users in the Western Hemisphere. Because of this, Telegram is the WhatsApp alternative where you are most likely to find a friend using compared to others.
Although Telegram is a good WhatsApp alternative due to its amount of active users and how easy it is to use, your content/messages are not encrypted by default. All of your content is stored on Telegram’s servers. Telegram, however, does offer E2EE in a section that they call “Secret chat.”
As of now, Telegram is free and does not have any ads or requires any payment plan. Its founder and CEO Pavel Durov is financing capital expenditures of the app.
You can download Telegram on your iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux device. Telegram requires a phone number for registration.
Keybase is another messaging platform that offers open-source end-to-end encryption. Although the company got acquired by Zoom back in 2020, there’s nothing to worry about its security. Since the app is open source, security researchers can audit the app at any time and check if Zoom has changed anything in it.
You can download Keybase for Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android free of charge.
Another app that makes sure that your messages aren’t hacked or intercepted by someone else is surespot. Text messages, images, and voice messages sent through surespot are encrypted using 256 bit AES-GCM encryption using keys created with 521 bit ECDH from both users’ end. Surepost is another messaging app that does not need your email or phone number for it to work.
The app even allows you to set multiple accounts on your device.
You can download surepost for iPhone and Android device.
For those who don’t like to associate their phone number with messaging apps, another app that doesn’t use your phone number is Kik. With Kik, you set a username that acts as your identity or phone number. Other people can message you via your Kik username, this way no one knows your phone number or real name.
Although many apps don’t use your phone number, most of those apps don’t have many users, so it will be difficult to find any friends or family with them. But Kik is different. The app has more than 100 million registered users, so it is likely that you’ll find your friend there.
Kik is available across multiple platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ovi, and BlackBerry phones.
The app can be downloaded from Kik.com for those devices totally free.
If calling and video chat is more important than texting to you, then LINE is the app for you. Line offers everything in one. The app, which has over 360 million users worldwide, lets you make VOiP calls, video chat, text, and media messages.
Since the app works using your data or internet connection, communicating with international users is completely free. LINE is available on multiple mobiles and desktop OS.
The app can be downloaded for free for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, and Nokia ASHA smartphones.
Desktop users can also download the app on their Windows 7/8, Mac OS X computer for free at LINE.me.
Another app that has a large user base is WeChat. The app has over one billion users worldwide. WeChat does not offer end-to-end encryption is under Chinese survelaince.
The WeChat app is available across multiple devices for free with no ads or subscriptions. You can download it to your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Nokia, and BlackBerry at webchat.com.
A true messaging app that has everything-in-one is Viber. Viber offers VoIP calls with high audio quality, video chat, text and media messages, group chat, and more. The Viber app uses end-to-end encryption by default, so you do not have to worry about any security configuration.
You can download the Viber app for your desktop computer, tablet, and smartphone. The app is completely free with no advertisements in it.
Viber is freely available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Bada, Nokia, Windows, Mac, and Linux at viber.com.