Looking for the perfect messenger…

Today many people are looking for an alternative to WhatsApp, but I’ve been looking for the perfect messenger for many years. Do you believe that the perfect messenger exists or can exist? I do not, because even if you find something close to your ideal, you will still need people who will use it too. Popular solutions are never perfect

What I expect from the perfect messenger:

1. End-to-end encryption

I’m looking for a safe way to communicate and I don’t want someone to read my conversations, so I need end-2-end encryption. Today almost every messenger has encryption, but I can not use Facebook Messenger or still popular in my region ICQ and messenger from VK.

2. Sign up by email

There’re many reasons why I prefer to register by email. A phone number is too sensitive data. What if I had to change my phone number, but forgot to change it in some service? Too many problems that I wouldn’t have with email. That’s why I cannot use Signal or Telegram.

3. Desktop and web versions

I’m a desktop slave, and my laptop is the main screen that I see during the day. That’s why I need a desktop or at least a web version, and that’s why today I just can not use trusted and and quite popular Signal.

4. The ability to choose a device I prefer

I was really serious when I said that I’m a desktop slave. In most cases, I use my smartphone only for calls and SMS (or as a clock). I don’t even pay for mobile internet. It’s just inconvenient for me. And this is the main reason why I cannot use very interesting Threema.

5. No auto-updates

I hate auto-updates! That’s why I prefer the web version of Skype, but not a desktop one. I expect the app to ask me about the update before this update is downloaded already. Remember: I’m a desktop slave and very often I use a 3G modem with limited internet traffic.

6. People who also use it

I need something popular. I just can’t use a messenger that no one else uses. I think Wire is really close to my ideal, but I just don’t know anyone who uses it. With whom will I communicate there? You don’t choose the messenger, people around you choose it.

Maybe the perfect messenger exists, but today nobody uses it…

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    1. Yep, but not web version. I want to test it before installing. And a desktop app can lead us to point 5. Will it?

  1. Well I heard that the Signal devs were working to make possible register without a phone number, so maybe will be a solution to the point #2

  2. I like Signal, but I only know one person who has it installed on their device — and I’m not aware of them ever having used it! Also, it is not available for KaiOS or Java-based phones, just Android (and Apple?) so I can’t really use it as 1) there’d be nobody to message and 2) my device won’t even run it!

    Popularity (or sufficient popularity) is an important issue. It is a little annoying that I sometimes miss out on things because people say, «I thought you already knew, I posted it on Facebook» or «I messaged everyone on Whatsapp», but eventually people realise that email, phone or SMS is the only way to get hold of me.

    My ideal would be a decentralised, open protocol with e2e encryption so that anyone could produce an implementation of it on any device. I suppose the nearest so far would be something like xmpp or matrix, but it’s just not widely-enough adopted by regular, non-technical users, because they are not aware of (and/or don’t care) about the myriad privacy-issues with Fakebook, Whatscrapp and similar. You can’t persuade someone to move to Signal or Briar when they can’t even see what’s wrong with oversharing or profiling, all their friends are on another app, the app is easy to install from the most-popular app-store, etc. There is no chance they’d see that although it doesn’t matter if anyone reads their conversations, if we all use meaningful encryption* it generates sufficient noise to blend-in (and therefore protect) the few people who really do need it (e.g. journalists, human-rights workers, etc).

    *It irritates me when people say «but Whatsapp is encrypted!»… so I use the term «meaninful encryption» to distinguish between true e2e encryption, and the «encryption» done in the apps produced by large data-harvesting corporations, where the conversation may well be encrypted, but the service-provider still has the keys, so could therefore still decrypt the conversations if they so desired. A false sense of security is worse than no security at all!

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