Facebook shelled out $19B dollars yesterday to buy WhatsApp. While some are applauding the move and some are outraged by the worth of a “mere” messaging company, many users are worried about WhatsApp’s future and their privacy after this acquisition. That’s why we decided to look for alternative messaging apps you can install on your Android phone today.
Popular Apps: LINE and WeChat
If you’re looking for a WhatsApp replacement simply because you don’t like, trust or use Facebook, or you think you already gave Facebook too much information about yourself and don’t want it to have more intricate knowledge, you are probably looking at a near-Whatsapp replacement. That would be a popular app that millions of other people are using and where you are likely going to find most of your friends. In this case, you have two major options: LINE and WeChat.
LINE is one of the most popular WhatsApp alternatives. As a matter of fact, this Japanese app made the news because of its aggressive moves to infiltrate the western markets like the United States. LINE is actually very similar to WhatsApp, with the ability to sign in with a phone number only, and send free cross-platform text, audio and media messages to anyone on your contact list. The app however packs in a lot of additional features, including many Kawaii-inspired stickers, desktop support, and Facebook-like Timeline and Games.
WeChat is a very popular Chinese-made app that offers many of the same features of Whatsapp and LINE, along with stickers and games. It also differenciates itself by providing a web app for chatting from any browser, a Look Around function to find WeChat users nearby, and Drift Bottle that lets you send a message and see if any stranger is going to pick it up.
Secure Apps: Surespot and Threema
If you care about your privacy a lot and don’t want to hand your communication to any server, you might want to look into secure messaging solutions but keep in mind these are often a lot less popular compared to non-encrypted services. Other users have suggested Telegram, but my research into the app lead me to several posts that alarmed me to its flawed encryption system, like this one.
I won’t pretend to know a lot about encryption and privacy, so I’ll leave you to read this very detailed and very well researched post on missingm that explains the requirements and differences between a multitude of messaging applications. Joshua recommends a couple of secure apps you can use today so I’ll follow his advice.
Surespot is an open-source Android and iOS messaging solution with a Holo UI, media and emoji support, no phone or email signup requirements, and multiple identities. It uses end-to-end encryption to make sure all your messages stay private, prohibits the recipient from sharing media you sent to them unless you explicitly allow it, and removes messages from your device and your friend’s device when you delete them.
Threema is another end-to-end encrypted Android and iOS messaging solution based in Switzerland. Like Surespot, it offers media and emoji support along with a clean UI, but it also adds group messaging and location sharing. It is, however, closed source and that seems to make its privacy and encryption features a little more difficult to verify.
Will you be ditching WhatsApp now that Facebook has acquired it? If so, which of these apps — or maybe ones we didn’t mention here — will you be using?