Open Whisper Systems launched privacy-focused messaging app Signal on the Google Play store earlier today, six months after its original launch on the iOS App Store. It is available for Android phones only for now, but support for tablets is in the pipeline.
TextSecure and RedPhone, two communication apps from Open Whisper Systems on Android, will be merged into Signal. RedPhone users will receive a prompt to install Signal, while TextSecure users only need to update the app.
Signal offers text, group chat, and calls on Android, all with end-to-end encryption. Photos and video are supported on the app, letting users send whatever media they want without fear of a hacker or government finding the information. Google already provides its own mobile encryption, but Signal manages all of the communication sent outside the device.
Users add contacts through an address book rather than pins, codes or email addresses. Since no communications are stored on Open Whisper Systems’ servers, it is impossible for anyone to trace the call or text back to you. And even if a third party gets hold of the messages, they will be encrypted, making them impossible to read.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 2, 2015
The app is recommended by one of the world’s best-known privacy experts, Edward Snowden. He said on Twitter that he uses Signal almost daily. If that isn’t enough, Open Whisper Systems’ code is open source, letting you check to see if there are any imperfections.
Open Whisper Systems code is used by WhatsApp for its own end-to-end encryption messaging service, an app used by 800 million people. The developers have worked on a few other projects involving mobile encryption, making them one of the leaders in the field.
Signal doesn’t have some of the features you might expect if you’re coming from Facebook Messenger, but if you want a secure, simple messaging platform, this is the best in the business. Open Whisper Systems plans to launch a browser version in the near future.