WhatsApp vs Signal Features: WhatsApp has some features like sharing status updates, custom chat wallpapers, and WhatsApp payment to name a few that Signal does not have.
- WhatsApp has some features that Signal does not have currently like status updates, custom chat wallpapers, and WhatsApp Payment to name a few.
WhatsApp has been facing criticism for its updated terms of service slated to go into effect from February 8, 2021. The new policy tweaks how the platform processes user data when a WhatsApp business account is involved and shares it with Facebook. Users are moving to alternatives like Signal with many tech giants endorsing it. According to Sensor Tower, Signal has seen 2.3 million new downloads between January 6 and January 10.
WhatsApp has been around since 2010 and became the default messaging system for almost 400 million users in India by mid-2019. It became the most popular messaging app and became an indispensable part of users’ lives. Now, even as some users have started switching to alternatives like Signal, they miss some of WhatsApp’s features that Signal does not.
Extensive sticker packs: The stickers available on Signal are limited against the plethora of stickers present on WhatsApp. However, Signal has noted that it will roll out features like chat wallpapers, an About field for your Signal profile, animated stickers and media auto-download settings and full-screen profile photos soon.
Status updates: WhatsApp also has status updates that Signal lacks as it does not support status updates.
Online and last seen: WhatsApp shows the online and last seen status of live or active users on the platform. However, Signal does not show online status or last seen, and also gives users the option to disable typing indicators. There is no way you can do that on WhatsApp.
Custom chat wallpapers: WhatsApp recently introduced a custom chat wallpapers feature that allows users to set different wallpapers for different chats. WhatsApp says that by making your chats distinguishable, users will never worry about sending messages to the wrong chat.
Third-party backups: While WhatsApp allows users to backup their chats on third parties like Google Drive, Signal does not give its users this feature. However, the app gives users the option to manually set up a local backup.
WhatsApp payment and carts: WhatsApp launched WhatsApp’s UPI-based payment feature in late 2020 with the NPCI and subsequently rolled out carts for WhatsApp businesses, monetising the platform. Signal’s Brian Acton left WhatsApp in 2017 because he did not want the app getting monetised, so Signal, later taken over by Acton has neither a payment method nor carts.
While WhatsApp has some features that Signal does not, Signal has some features that WhatsApp does not have. Signal gives users the option to write a note to self rather than forming a single person group to send notes to oneself. Signal app also allows users to relay their voice calls to app servers to conceal their contacts’ identity.
It’s easy to distinguish between a personal account and a business account on WhatsApp. In an individual chat, tap the contact’s name to view their profile. If they’re a business, their profile will include one of the following labels:
- Official business account: WhatsApp has determined that a notable and authentic brand owns this account. An "Official business account" has a green checkmark badge in its profile and next to the header in the chat thread. The name of the business is visible even if you haven't added the business to your address book.
- Business account: This is the default status for a business that creates an account on one of the WhatsApp Business products.
Note: An "Official business account" does not indicate that WhatsApp endorses this business.
Why am I seeing a new system message in my WhatsApp chats?
Some businesses you chat with on WhatsApp may choose to use Facebook or another company to help them manage and store their messages.
You’ll see the following messages, when a business chooses to:
- Use a partner: You’ll see “This business works with other companies to manage this chat.”
- Use Facebook’s Hosting Services: You’ll see “This business uses a secure service from the Facebook company to manage this chat.”
If a business is managing their chats by themselves, you’ll see: “Messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted. No one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”
Even if a business chooses to use Facebook to host their messages, Facebook will not automatically use your messages to inform the ads that you see. Just like with any other communication channel, like call centers or email, businesses are able to use interactions with customers for their own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook or elsewhere. You can always contact a business to learn more about its privacy practices.
If you don’t want to receive messages from a business, you can block them directly from the chat, or delete them from your contact list.
Always private and secure
Every WhatsApp message is protected by the same Signal encryption protocol that secures messages before they leave your device. When you message a WhatsApp business account, your message is delivered securely to the destination chosen by the business.
More and more people are expressing concerns over using popular use messaging apps like Twitter, Instagram, and even standard SMS services. They feel that these apps and services are not secure enough to ensure privacy. That’s while we have seen a huge swell of interest for the Signal app.
The Signal app is free to download and was developed to send encrypted text, image, audio, and video messages to individuals and groups. It can also be used for encrypted phone calls between Signal users for mobile users. Here’s a quick look at what this app is all about, and why there’s been a sudden surge of new users for it.
What is Signal?
Signal is a communication app that supports messaging, voice and video calls, and more. It’s fully cross-platform, free, open-source, and features end-to-end encryption. This makes it a popular choice for users looking for enhanced privacy and security.
The origins of the Signal app go back to 2010, when a company called Whisper Systems first launched two Android apps: TextSecure, which encrypted text messages, and RedPhone, which did the same for voice calls. In 2011, the company was bought by Twitter and the apps were released as free open-source software.
In 2013, one of the founders of Whisper Systems, Moxie Marlinspike, departed Twitter. He formed another startup, Open Whisper Systems, and continued to develop TextSecure and RedPhone. In 2014, it was announced that the company would merge the two apps into one, with the new name Signal. In 2018, Marlinspike and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton formed the non-profit Signal Foundation to continue the development of the app and to keep it free and open-source software.
In recent years, there’s been a surge of new downloads for Signal. Most people believe it’s due to changes to another popular encrypted messaging service, WhatsApp. In early January 2021, WhatsApp revealed that it will change its terms and services agreement, saying that it will start sending personal data to its parent company Facebook. This began officially sometime in 2021.
Obviously, many WhatsApp users didn’t like the change and have since moved on to other chat apps like Signal and Telegram.
What platforms support the app?
Signal is available for iOS and Android devices and is also available for PCs running on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. The program is also open-source, so developers are encouraged to create their own clients. You can download it on Android via the button below.
A signal phrase is a short introduction phrase that indicates that a quote or paraphrase is coming. By introducing a quotation or paraphrase with a signal phrase, you provide an effective transition between your own ideas and the evidence used to explore your ideas.
One of the best ways to let readers know more about your source is to use a signal phrase. Signal phrases help readers “move from your own words to the words of a source without feeling a jolt” (Hacker 406). A writer uses signal phrases to avoid dropped quotations, smoothly leading the reader into the source’s ideas.
How to Use a Signal Phrase
Signal phrases provide a seamless transition from the writer’s thoughts to a source’s thoughts and can provide details about the source that highlight credibility and expertise.
Avoid dropped quotations:
Did you know that some bread batters should be hand mixed? “This light mixing technique produces quick breads with a lovely open crumb” (Greenspan 2).
Instead, use a signal phrase:
Did you know that some bread batters should be hand mixed? According to Dorrie Greenspan, author of Baking: From My Home to Yours, “This light mixing technique produces quick breads with a lovely open crumb” (2).
Signal Phrase Examples
In the words of noted psychologist Carl Jung, “…”
As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead noted, “…”
Kanye West, Grammy award-winning songwriter and rapper, says, “…”
“…,” claims reality-TV star Hulk Hogan.
Authors Amy Tan and Tobias Wolfe offer two unique perspectives on growing up: “…” (Hacker 408)
Verbs in Signal Phrases
Choose an appropriate verb to create your own signal phrase that will make your source’s position clear (Hacker 408).
Hacker, Diana. Instructor’s Edition: Rules for Writers. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004.
By Hannah Davies
- In this article…
The messaging app boasts features like end-to-end encryption, voice and video calls, group chats and even encrypted stickers. It’s also ad-free, costs nothing to use and claims to have no ties to any major tech company.
Signal has received praise from the likes of whistleblower Edward Snowden and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, but why do they trust it?
We’ve already looked at WhatsApp and Telegram. Now, we’ve reached out to security experts to learn more about Signal, how it handles your data and whether you should be using it as your main messaging app…
Is Signal safe?
Signal is safer than many messaging apps because it uses end-to-end encryption, which ensures that no one (not even Signal) can intercept and read your messages.
Unlike Telegram, which also benefits from end-to-end encryption in its “secret chats”, Signal has the feature enabled by default so you won’t have to take any additional steps to get this extra layer of privacy.
“Signal is safe to use, mainly because it provides end-to-end encryption, which means messages are secured before they’re sent, and they are decrypted only once they arrive at the intended recipient’s device”, explained McAfee VP Antony Demetriades.
“Essentially, it encodes your message so that only the intended recipient’s device can unlock it”.
There are also options for users who don’t want to connect their Signal account with their personal phone number or iCloud history.
“While the platform requires your mobile number to sign up, you can set this up using a Google voice number, while Apple users can stop their history from syncing with the cloud by turning off ‘show calls in recents’ in settings”, added Demetriades.
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Signal vs other messaging apps
So, how does Signal compare to other popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram?
“Out of the three apps, Signal has the best reputation for security and privacy using published encryption that has been thoroughly scrutinised and without any incentive to capture your personal information”, said Searchlight Security CTO and co-founder, Dr. Gareth Owenson.
“WhatsApp is safe in that it uses the same secure encryption as Signal but is owned by Facebook – a company which has historically monetised personal information (principally for advertising). WhatsApp has recently come under criticism for attempting to expand the amount of data shared with Facebook”.
Telegram has a more trustworthy reputation than WhatsApp and offers more features than Signal, but this has earned the app some unsavoury users.
“Telegram has a reputation as a secure messaging app but this is largely due to the feature set it offers rather than the strong encryption”, explained Dr. Owenson.
“Research by Royal Holloway recently found vulnerabilities in the cryptography used by Telegram. Telegram is also popular amount darkweb criminals and other malicious actors due to its perceived security”.
However, which app you pick will ultimately come down to what you need from your messaging service.
“For the average person, all of the apps provide adequate security and they may prefer WhatsApp due to the number or their contacts who will use it. For the truly paranoid, stick with Signal”.
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Over the last few years, Signal has become one of the most popular messaging apps around. Favored by tech giants, cybersecurity experts, journalists, government officials, and many more, Signal has gone from a darling secret of the security community to a group chatting phenomenon.
Signal is known for its incredible security and wealth of features. On an internet where it seems that more and more businesses are trying to track you, Signal can keep all of your conversations private.
Here’s a guide to the Signal app, including why it’s become so popular.
The Signal app, explained
Signal is safer and more secure than most messengers because of a process called “end-to-end encryption.” This works by encoding a sender’s message in such a way that only the intended receiver’s device can unlock it.
Neither Signal, nor your phone company, nor the government can read your messages. That’s why it’s remained popular with journalists, government officials, and anyone else who deals with classified materials.
However, Signal’s messages are only secure if both the sender and receiver are on the app. Otherwise, you’re just sending standard text messages back and forth.
If you prefer to communicate through Signal, the app has a simple feature to invite someone to download it. Blocking someone from contacting you through the app is just as easy.
Encryption itself isn’t a unique feature. Apps like iMessage, Telegram, and WeChat all do it to an extent. But unlike other apps, Signal’s source code is publicly available, so experts have been able to poke and prod at its defenses for years, strengthening it in the process.
Signal’s key features
Signal is similar to other messaging apps, but with a lot more security features. It’s available for free on iPhone, Android, Mac, and PC.
Android users can even set their default messaging app to Signal if they want to.
On a basic level, you can have one-on-one conversations with someone or start a group chat. In these chats, you can send pictures, videos, internet links, voice messages, and more. You can even send and react to messages with emojis, much like on Slack and Discord .
Signal’s beta version is testing new kinds of chats with forum-like features. Those include group admins, updates, timers for disappearing messages. For now, groups are capped at 150 people, but adding and removing new people from a group is simple.
If you’re concerned about someone accessing the Signal app from your phone, you can lock the app with the same passcode or fingerprint scan normally used to lock your phone.
Signal requires a phone number to join the app. To keep yours private, you can sign up with a Google voice number. Apple users will want to visit their privacy settings within the app and turn off “Show Calls in Recents” to prevent your history from syncing with the cloud.
You can also set your messages to disappear over time, or photos to disappear after a single viewing.
In short, Signal is an app that’s focused on privacy first, and gives you a wide range of tools to manage that privacy.
Barbara Smith contributed to a previous version of this article.
Millions of people use Signal every day for free and instantaneous communication anywhere in the world. Send and receive high-fidelity messages, participate in HD voice/video calls, and explore a growing set of new features that help you stay connected. Signal’s advanced privacy-preserving technology is always enabled, so you can focus on sharing the moments that matter with the people who matter to you.
• Say anything – State-of-the-art end-to-end encryption (powered by the open source Signal Protocol™) keeps your conversations secure. Privacy isn’t an optional mode — it’s just the way that Signal works. Every message, every call, every time.
• Go fast – Messages are delivered quickly and reliably, even on slow networks. Signal is optimized to operate in the most constrained environment possible.
• Feel free – Signal is a completely independent 501c3 nonprofit. Development is supported by users like you. No advertisements. No trackers. No kidding.
• Be yourself – You can use your existing phone number and address book to securely communicate with your friends.
• Speak up – Whether they live across town or across the ocean, Signal’s enhanced audio and video quality will make your friends and family feel closer.
• Whisper in the shadows – Switch to the dark theme if you refuse to see the light.
• Sound familiar – Choose custom alerts for each contact, or disable noises completely. Simon & Garfunkel wrote a hit song about it in 1964, and you can experience the sound of silence whenever you want by choosing “None” as your notification ringtone.
• Picture this – Use the built-in image editing features to sketch, crop, and flip your outgoing photos. There’s even a text tool so that you can add more words to the 1,000 that your picture is already worth.
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The secure messaging app Signal has been around for years. But thanks to heightened awareness of the need for privacy the app recently exploded with new users.
Known for its end-to-end encryption and independent structure as a non-profit organization run by a foundation — not a big tech company — Signal has previously been the communication method of choice for activists, people in the hacker community, and others concerned about privacy.
In recent years, Signal has also been investing in more infrastructure and features to support its users. That’s a good thing: Signal first saw an increase in users in the spring of 2020 as people participating in anti-racist protests around the murder of George Floyd realized how closely law enforcement was surveilling them and asking companies to hand over user data. It’s only become more popular since then.
So, thinking about joining Signal? Bottom line: If you care about privacy, it’s a good idea. Here’s what you need to know.
OK, so what is Signal?
Signal is a free, privacy-focused messaging and voice talk app you can use on Apple and Android smartphones and via desktop. All you need is a phone number to join. You can text or make voice or video calls with friends, either one-on-one or in groups, and use emoji reactions or stickers just like in other apps. But there’s one big difference: Signal is actually really private.
Is the Signal app secure?
Communications on Signal are end-to-end encrypted, which means only the people in messages can see the content of those messages — not even the company itself. Even sticker packs get their own special encryption.
Signal created the encryption protocol (basically, the technical way you implement this) that other companies including WhatsApp and Skype use. Plainly put, it is the gold standard of privacy.
Is Signal really private?
Yes — and that privacy goes beyond the fact that the content of your messages is encrypted. You can set messages to disappear after certain customizable time frames. Plus, Signal collects virtually no data on its users. The only information you give the app is your phone number, and the company is even working on a way to decouple that from using Signal by making encrypted contact servers. If the police come knocking to Signal for data on its users, it says, truthfully, that it has no data to hand over.
Part of the reason it collects no data is because Signal is a non-profit organization, not a for-profit company. It has no advertising, so no incentive to track users. Instead, it’s funded by grants and private investors — one of whom had a huge personal interest in making a privacy-oriented platform. Though a small group of privacy activists created Signal in 2013, it has grown in recent years. In 2018, WhatsApp founder Brian Acton donated $50 million to create the Signal Foundation, which now runs Signal. Acton got on board with the mission to make a truly private messaging service after Facebook acquired WhatsApp and Acton reportedly left the company amid clashes with Facebook over how it was eroding WhatsApp’s privacy.
Signal vs. WhatsApp (and other messaging apps).
Both Signal and WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted using the same technology. That means the content of the messages you send and calls you have are both private. However, Facebook collects lots of other information in the form of usage statistics, metadata, and more. And there’s no longer a way to opt out.
Signal does not have as many fancy customization features as WhatsApp, like backgrounds. But when it comes to true privacy, there is no comparison.
You can see a full list of alternatives to Facebook-owned messaging services here.
Another app rising in popularity is Telegram. Telegram says it’s also all about privacy, but it actually has plenty of downsides. Messages on Telegram are not truly end-to-end encrypted by default. Plus, the fact that private groups are unlimited in size, can be joined via a link, and are explicitly not moderated has made it a hotbed for toxic and illegal content, like terrorism and revenge porn (also known as non-consensual pornography). Signal does not moderate content either, but it limits groups to 1,000, and is more about communicating with people who are actual contacts than joining groups of strangers like on WhatsApp and Telegram.
How to join Signal
Once you download the latest version of the app, you’ll have to register your phone number. Then you’ll receive an SMS message with a verification code. From there, you’ll have a Signal contact list that will show you all of the contacts saved in your phone that are on Signal. You can securely text, voice, and video chat any of them, and you can manually add phone numbers of people not saved in your contacts, too. Voila, you’re Signaling!
Related Video: How to permanently delete your social media
This story was originally published in November 2020 and updated in July 2021.
When it announced the changes, it failed to make it clear that none of them affected the end-to-end encryption that protects individual and group chats. Instead, the changes – which allowed more data to be shared with third parties and, potentially, parent company Facebook – were to do with chats between users and businesses on WhatsApp.
Nevertheless, many users are still wondering whether to ditch WhatsApp and what are the alternatives that will keep their chats and personal data secure.
Is Signal more secure than WhatsApp?
Signal, which was founded by former Facebook employee Brian Acton and Moxie Marlinspike, has fewer users than WhatsApp and Telegram.
Signal offers broadly similar features to WhatsApp and a similar interface, but the difference is that it’s an open source platform (which means it can be checked for vulnerabilities by security researchers) that’s not run for profit.
Interestingly, Signal’s encryption protocol is actually used in WhatsApp, so there’s no difference in the security you get when sending messages to individuals or groups in either app.
Unlike WhatsApp, however, Signal does not have a cloud backup feature which means that chat history would be lost if your phone was stolen or damaged. It is possible to use the ‘chats backup’ feature to transfer them to a new phone but this must the same type as your current phone: Android to Android or iOS to iOS.
Plus, WhatsApp recently announced that its backups will now include end-to-end encryption. Previously, this was only available when transferred to Google Drive or iCloud but now the end-to-end encryption will be available during the transfer too. This is something Signal doesn’t have.
There’s another difference: Signal collects only the contact information it needs, but doesn’t link it to you. By contrast WhatsApp collects a lot and does link it to you. You can see the difference in the image below.
Should I switch from WhatsApp to Signal?
So, Signal is arguably safer to use than WhatsApp. It doesn’t offer cloud backups, but that doesn’t make it less secure: it just means it lacks that feature.
Functionally, Signal lets you do the same things as WhatsApp: chat using text, emojis, GIFs, stickers, as well as voice and video calling.
Group chats support up to 1000 people, though voice and video calling is currently limited to eight people, just like WhatsApp.
Signal has a ‘disappearing messages’ feature as well, but it can be set using a timer of five seconds to seven days. This means that once the timer has passed messages will automatically disappear, and this option can be set by anyone in the chat.
In terms of usability, both services require that you provide a mobile phone number. WhatsApp now allows up to four companion devices, but they can’t be other phones.
It’s the same with Signal: you can use only one phone and up to five other devices (PCs, laptops, tablets).
Signal introduced the ability to use a PIN instead of a phone number but you will initially need to register with a phone number, and then you can use it on another device or PC with your PIN.
But what is most likely to convince you to switch to Signal is the fact that it doesn’t collect personal data like WhatsApp does. The sticking point could be whether you can persuade friends and family to make the switch to Signal with you, as there’s no point in making a stand about privacy if you can’t communicate with your friends and family.
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