Alternative Apps to WhatsApp

WhatsApp is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, messaging apps in the world. It became the app of choice for most because of its security features, including end-to-end encryption. 

However, many have expressed concerns after Facebook, who acquired WhatsApp in 2014, announced changes to the app’s privacy policy. The social media giant also announced plans to combine its three separate messaging platforms, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram’s messaging function.

ADVERTISING

While these changes may not completely undermine users’ privacy, I believe that getting to know the alternative apps to WhatsApp would still be helpful to some. In this article, I will discuss about seven alternatives to the messaging app WhatsApp.

  • WhatsApp Mobile Messaging Platform
  • Signal Private Messenger
  • Telegram
  • Viber
  • Threema
  • Session
  • Element
  • Wickr Me
Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: 9to5Mac

WhatsApp Mobile Messaging Platform

WhatsApp Messenger is a free, cross-platform centralized instant messaging and voice-over-IP service founded by former Yahoo! employees Brian Acton and Jan Koum in 2009.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: Business Today

The app allows users to send text messages, images, documents, and video files, as well as make voice and video calls and send voice messages. 

It was initially criticized for its lack of encryption but was later praised because of its addition of end-to-end encryption

In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion and in January 2021, the app announced a new Privacy Policy, causing numerous users to transfer to other messaging platforms.

Recent Security and Privacy Concerns Regarding WhatsApp

When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, many have expressed concerns about security and privacy as the social media giant and its third-party apps have been notorious for data harvesting and security breaches in the past that resulted in leakage of user data.

The company introduced its new privacy policy under which it says it will collect and share your personal data with Facebook and Instagram. 

Signal Private Messenger

Who else would come up with a more secure messaging up other than the Signal Foundation, the group that provides end-to-end encryption to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger? Signal Private Messenger not only brings end-to-end encryption but a bunch of other security features too.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: PCMag

Signal’s privacy features include self-destructing messages, which refer to messages with set timers that will be automatically deleted from both the sender and receiver’s devices after the specified amount of time. 

It also has a screen security feature that will prevent recipients from taking screenshots of conversations.

The app retains all regular functions of a messaging platform such as sending texts and making calls but it only needs a mobile number to create an account. The number is not even linked to the profile and is used solely for registration.

Download and Installation

The Signal app can be used for free on desktop and mobile. Its mobile version is available to both Android users and iOS device owners.

The Android version can be downloaded via the Google Play Store and requires Android 4.4 and up to work on your mobile. It currently has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on almost 1.7 million user reviews. It has been downloaded more than 50 million times.

Meanwhile, the iOS version has a file size of 207.8 MB and requires the device to be running on iOS 11.0 or later. It currently has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on more than 400,000 user reviews on the Apple App Store.

Telegram

Another end-to-end encryption messaging platform I’ve tried is Telegram. Aside from messages, it also has end-to-end encryption for voice calls and since it is a cloud-based app that works across multiple platforms, it claims to be the fastest messaging app on the market.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: Wall Street Journal

Telegram has all the other features that typical messaging apps have but what sets it apart is its unique offerings like super groups where up to 100,000 users can chat, public channels where anyone can join in the discussion, and optional end-to-end encrypted secret chats.

Using the app, I was able to share files of up to 2 GB in size, use a username in chats, and have a passcode lock

Download and Installation

The Telegram messaging app is available to both iOS and Android users. The iOS version of the app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store. Its file size is at 182.4 MB and it requires iOS 9.0 or later for it to function properly.

The Android version of the app has a 4.3 out of 5 stars rating on the Google Play Store based on more than 8 million user reviews. Telegram has an Editor’s Choice seal so it is easy to spot if you found the correct app.

Viber

This cross-platform VoIP and instant messaging app from Japanese company Rakuten has been around for a decade. I’ve been using Viber for a few years now, particularly to message or call businesses that use the app primarily.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: Just Alternative To

Registration is done using a mobile number but unlike WhatsApp, the number doesn’t need to be connected to the internet for the desktop app to be accessible. 

It also offers end-to-end encryption for calls, messages and the shared media and it applies to messages saved in multiple devices

It also has a Viber Out feature that allows users to make international calls to non-Viber users at nominal rates. Viber also has a sticker store and games that you can play with other users inside the app.

Download and Installation

The Viber app is downloadable for free and can be used on a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Bada, Mac, Windows. The Android version of the app is currently rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store.

Meanwhile, the iOS version of the app can be found on the Apple App Store and has a file size of 232.2 MB. It requires your device to run iOS 11.0 or later and currently has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on more than 200,000 reviews.

Threema

Another notable app that I think is a great alternative to WhatsApp when it comes to privacy is the open-source instant messaging app Threema. What I liked the most about Threema is that it doesn’t require a phone number or any personal information to create an account.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: SeventyOne

The app basically encrypts everything, from messages to shared files, and even status updates. Unlike other messaging platforms, it also doesn’t collect metadata. This is a good choice if your main concern is privacy and security.

However, as great as its security is, Threema lacks in some aspects as a messaging app. While most apps consider voice and video calling a basic feature, this app doesn’t. 

But it has some unique features like creating polls in groups, password or fingerprint-protect chats, and anonymous chatting

Download and Installation

Unlike other entries in the list, Threema is a paid app and costs $2.99 for both Android and iOS users. If you ask me, I think this app is worth the price if you’re strictly into security

The Android version of the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store while the iOS version will be found on the Apple App Store.

Session

Another WhatsApp alternative that emphasizes on reducing metadata is Session. The beginning of its privacy policy stresses that the app never knows who the users are, who they’re talking to, or the contents of your messages.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: NextPit

To make sure it accomplishes this, Session does not store any personally identifiable information, including IP address, phone number, and email ID. 

If your priority is anonymity in using a messaging app, Session would fit you right.

Download and Installation

The app is free to download for both iOS and Android device owners. The iOS version of the app has a file size of 58.6 MB and requires iOS 12.0 or later.

Meanwhile, the Android version of the app has a file size of 78 MB and requires Android 6.0 and up to run. It currently has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store.

Element

Previously known as Riot and Vector, the Element messenger app not only offers end-to-end encryption but also features decentralized storage. This means that upon registration, you get to choose the server that will host your messages.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: Element

Aside from picking a free server, you also have the option of hosting your own or paying for a separate hosting, which is used mostly by businesses. No personal details are needed to sign up so anonymity is maintained.

The unique thing that I found with Element is the secret key that it gives upon registration. This key is needed when logging into new devices.

Download and Installation

The Android version of the app is free to download and requires a device to be running Android 5.0 and up. It is currently rated at 3.9 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store.

Meanwhile, its iOS counterpart has a file size of 112.1 MB and requires iOS 11.0 or later. It has a rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars on the Apple App Store.

Wickr Me

Last but not least, the Wickr Me app boasts of Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) that lets users create anonymous accounts and send disappearing messages and attachments. It also does not log IP address or any user metadata.

Alternative Apps to WhatsApp
Image Source: TechJunkie

Because of this, the app doesn’t has no way to identify a Wickr Me account owner even if a phone number is linked to it since this information is encrypted too.

Download and Installation

The iOS version of Wickr Me has a file size of 126.5 MB and requires iOS 12.3 or later. It has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Apple App Store.

The Android version requires a device to be running Android 5.0 and up. It is currently rated at 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store.

Conclusion

In this age of digital communication, privacy and security are a rare commodity. Lucky for us, there are other options in the app market that we can use as alternative ways to continue protecting our privacy and ensuring our data security. Hopefully, this article helped you weigh those alternatives.

ADVERTISING