Signal app review: Cross platform private messaging service

Signal is an open-source instant messaging app that has around 10 million users. It was launched in 2014 by Open Whisper Systems. It supports Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android operating systems. Is Signal as good as WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, etc? How different is it from other instant messaging applications? Let’s find it out!

Signal Messenger review

Signal requires phone number verification. It consumes about 64 megabytes of storage memory. It requires location, phone, contacts, SMS, and storage access permissions to work on the Android OS. The app prompts you to enable these permissions when you run it for the first time. Once you grant Signal the required permissions, you’ll be prompted to make it the default SMS app on your device.

When you make Signal a default application for sending SMS, it will import text messages from your phone to a secure database. The database is saved on the user’s phone. There’s no option to cancel the task of importing SMSes in Signal.

Signal considers all imported messages as unread. Once the import task completes, you’ll see several notifications from Signal. The app enables you to find messages by their text content. It lets users bulk delete the SMSes.

Note: Users can’t choose the SIM card they want to use to send SMS. Signal reads the “Preferred SIM for SMS messages” system setting to select the SIM card.

What users can share with Signal?

  • Files of various types, contacts, text messages.
  • GIF images, location, individual photos, audio clips.

Here’s the list of features the Signal private messenger provides to the users:

Disappearing messages

These messages are deleted automatically from the sender’s and recipient’s devices after the stipulated time. While creating a disappearing message, you’ll be asked to set the message expiry time.

Unlike WhatsApp, Signal doesn’t display the names of the users on its main interface. The app goes through the user’s phone book and finds the phone numbers linked with a Signal account. To see this list, the user should tap the floating “edit account” option displayed at the bottom right area of the main interface.

Groups

Signal enables users to create a group. If your friend is not using Signal, you can still make him join the group, but the messages will be sent via the SIM card.

Message Trimming

WhatsApp and other messaging apps may save 1000s of megabytes of junk data on your device. They don’t provide an option to delete old messages automatically. Users can configure Signal to remove junk messages when the conversation length reaches the threshold set by the user.

Auto download files

Signal can automatically download images, videos, documents, and audio files over WiFi or mobile data connection like other instant messaging applications.

Must see: Best download manager apps for Android

Customization

Users of Signal Private Messenger can change the text font size. They can also disable its built-in emojis and use system emojis. To disable the emojis, head over to the app’s settings panel.

The app sends a message to the recipient when you enter the message body and tap the send button. It can also send a message when you tap the keyboard’s enter button. You must enable it from the setting’s interface to use this feature.

Signal supports dark and light color themes. You cannot change the background image/color of the chat interface in this application.

Conversation settings

The Signal Messenger enables you to block messages from certain contacts. You can set a different ringtone for each contact and mute conversations from the Conversation Settings interface of this app.

Verify safety number

Signal allows users to verify the security of the encryption algorithm it uses. To access this feature, tap the “Conversation Settings” option from the menu. Now, scroll down to find the “Verify Safety Number” option. When you tap this option, you’ll see a QR code and several groups of numbers on the screen. You should compare these numbers with those displayed on the message recipient’s device.

Also read: Best video calling apps for Android

Removing phone number

Users can de-register or unverify their phone numbers in Signal. If you want to uninstall the Signal app, make sure you delink your contact number from its settings interface.

Screenshots

Things I liked about Signal private messenger

  • Text messages are encrypted.
  • Option to automatically delete messages.
  • Same interface for managing SMS and conversations.
  • Option to make free voice and video calls.
  • The app doesn’t have ads. It doesn’t have in-app purchases too.
  • Signal is the only popular messaging app that you can use as an SMS app.
  • Open-source (see the source code on GitHub)

Things I didn’t like

  • Convincing friends to use this app is difficult.

Download Signal

Final thoughts

Signal is a must-have app for people who don’t want third-party firms to read their messages and see photos/videos they’ve sent to friends. It is also a great choice for users who are looking for a basic messaging app that has not been developed for the sake of making money.

Also see: Best VPN apps for Android

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