If you are looking for a way to keep your conversations private over text, it is essential to choose a messaging app carefully. Not all of them End-to-end encryption (E2EE)Others may have security holes that threaten your privacy.
Simply put, E2EE means that only you (the sender) and the recipient can see the contents of your messages. This – and most importantly – excludes any third parties, such as your mobile operator, Internet service provider (ISP), and phone manufacturer. Some users may want this extra layer of protection to help prevent any outside intrusion from government and other organizations that might try to use your private chats against you.
All the apps listed here are free and offer E2EE, so don’t worry about your privacy. Let’s get into it.
Signal is one of the most popular private messaging apps and it’s my personal use. It offers a simple and aesthetically pleasing interface that makes it easy to use as an alternative to your device’s default messaging app. Signal also describes itself as an “independent, not-for-profit company” with no ads or in-app trackers. Messages, voice calls and video calls are E2EE on Signal.
Note: On Android, you can also arrange to use Signal for less secure SMS/MMS messages, but the only way you can get complete protection in Signal is if both users on either end are using the app. (You don’t have to worry about this if you’re an iPhone user, though, since you can’t change your default SMS app.)
Telegram is another great secure messaging app. Provides server and client encryption for group and private conversations, you can also send messages with E2EE using Secret Chats Feature in Telegram. This not only prevents anyone from forwarding your messages but also allows you to send self-destructing messages as well, which disappear after a set amount of time. If you delete your message in a secret chat, Telegram will also delete it from the recipient’s device.
While Telegram recently introduced a paid category Offering faster downloads and larger file uploads, the free version of the app still has a lot of great features. (Telegram has a set of rad stickers that you can use to decorate your messages.)
Wickr Me is another app with a parent company that might make it seem unconvincing. Amazon Web Services bought Wickr Me last yearThe service is still a powerful messaging app that should keep your conversations safe. While Wickr Me is geared more towards business professionals who use the app to connect with their colleagues, that doesn’t mean the average user can’t use it. The free version of the app allows for encrypted personal and group messaging, audio and video calls, and file sharing. It also lets you set timers for messages to disappear.
Wire is a bare-bones messaging app that does exactly what you need to do: send E2EE messages and make E2EE audio and video calls. There are some paid options as well, but these plans are best suited for businesses looking for a secure collaboration app.
With Viber, you can expect a full-featured messaging experience, complete with everything you’d find in a modern messaging app, like stickers, GIFs, and reactions to messages. It also works a bit like Telegram where you can explore and join different channels to stay up to date on topics that interest you. Although it supports E2EE for calls and messages, it’s a bit more cluttered than some of the other channel apps here – you might see ads and channel recommendations while using it.
The interesting thing about Skred is that you don’t need a phone number or email to sign up. Skred also doesn’t use your phone’s contacts to detect if any of your friends are using the app. You can only invite people to the app by asking them to scan a QR code from your app in person or send the code to them through another messaging service. Skred supports E2EE messaging as well as voice and video calls.