With WhatsApp rolling out its new privacy policy and the subsequent social media uproar, Signal has seen a massive increase in downloads, all thanks to the extra security it offers. It has now become the foremost alternative to WhatsApp, surging to number one position on the Play Store.

What is Signal?

Signal is an encrypted messenger that facilitates exchange of messages, pictures, videos and other files as well as video and voice calls individually or in groups via the internet. Signal App features primarily focus on privacy, which is reviewed by independent security researchers from time to time. This, along with the app’s endorsement by Elon Musk, has resulted in a huge spike in its usage.

Why Use Signal App

Signal App owner, Moxie Marlinspike established the Signal Foundation along with the founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton with an aim to provide worldwide access to a secure messenger.

Signal App Features 1

Today, the only credentials required for using Signal is the phone number through which the presence of the user on the application can be ascertained but not the activity undertaken by them. This means that a third party may know that you are using the app but not what messages you are sending, who you are contacting, the timing of messages, location, etc.

Signal App Features: What’s New

  • End to End Encryption – A major reason why users are now planning to shift to Signal is that the messaging service offers end to end encryption to users and does not save any records such as call logs, messages, etc.
  • Application PIN – Another feature is the option to lock the application by adding a specific PIN that allows the user to have control over who can access it on their device. This provides an added layer of security to your private conversations and can be enabled under the ‘Privacy’ tab of the Settings of the device.
  • Larger Group Size – Signal allows making a group of 1000 people with the security of end to end encryption of chats. This can essentially be helpful for users who use internet messaging service for expanding their business or for office coordination.
  • Screen Security – This feature in particular provides the opportunity to block someone from taking a screenshot of the chat in the Signal app. By turning on the ‘Screen Security’ option, the recipient will be barred from saving the chat in the form of a screenshot. This feature can be disabled any time the user wants. 
  • Face Blur – One of the most interesting Signal App features is the ability to blur out faces in an image using the editor tool before sending it. The processing for facial encryption takes place on the user’s device and none of the edits are saved on the application’s servers.
  • SMS Facility – Signal also serves as the default text messaging app on Android devices integrating both services for sending messages to users not using Signal App. However, such messages are not secured by its end to end encryption and are labelled as ‘Insecure SMS’.

What Needs To Be Improved?

There are certain features missing in the application that users want the developers to add in the upcoming updates, some of which include:

  • Live Location – This feature is essential for tracking the exact location of a person especially when travelling or coordinating to meet. Without this feature on Signal, one will have to use another app such as Google Maps which may hamper the overall experience of the user.
  • Chat Backup – Signal currently does not offer the option to backup chats to a third party service such as Google Drive which can be problematic at the time of moving to a new device as there will be no option to restore the chats.
  • Online Status – One of Signal’s new features should be the ability to add a status that disappears in 24 hours similar to that of WhatsApp. Users like adding these statuses to share updates from their lives with their family and close friends, thus adding a personal touch to the messaging experience.

The technical team is already working to improve certain Signal App features such as increasing the limit of participants in a group call to 8, adding wallpapers and stickers, introducing the option to auto download among others. Now that Signal has gained immense popularity, it will be interesting to see how the experience of using the app unfolds.