The results of the decentralize.today 2019 review of messaging apps are in...

​During the course of last year, we undertook to review a number of the most popularly available messaging apps.

This  is the fourth year we have undertaken the review and we do get asked  why we devote so much time and energy to this exercise. Well, the simple  answer is because we all devote so much time to communicating by text  that we need, we deserve to have the best, most private, most secure,  most usable service possible....that simple, it matters!

A  secondary, but none the less important, factor is that nothing in this  sector stands still for very long, if at all. So we, in turn, need to  stay ahead of the curve so that you understand what has changed,  improved, deteriorated, gone up, gone down or simply arrived!

One  of the more interesting developments in recent times has been the rise  of offline messengers which operate across WiFi or Bluetooth so watch  out for additional reviews during 2020 on new entrants such as  Bridgefly, Fire Chat and Near Peer gain admirers!

​And we even snuck out a little taster for you with our most recent  review of the new kid on the block, Briar, you can find that at:

Briar – new kid on the (messaging app) block - Review
This is more than just another WhatsApp alternative. For once, this doesn’t rely just on having an internet connection, but also sends and receives messages via WiFi and Bluetooth. Even better is that it doesn’t rely on any one server! It is pure peer-to-peer and fully encrypted. It also has a bl…

​In total, we reviewed 8 different services, well, if truth be told,  although we included WhatsApp and FB Messenger in the list, we didn't  really look at them because...well...Facebook!

Our findings, in the  order in which they appeared in decentralize.today during 2019, are as  follows with an 'At a glance' chart at the end for the DR;TL crowd!:

1. Threema 11 June - https://decentralize.today/privacy/threema-secure-messengers-or-not-so-secure

Much  loved & admired, one of the first and still one of the best overall  privacy respecting apps, one significant downside is that it is not  entirely open source but can provide the independant audits to ease any  concerns. Based in Switzerland and connects with no outside contacts,  offering voice for the first year, still a fave.

2. Signal 13 June - https://decentralize.today/privacy/signal

Edward  Snowden is a fan so take from that what you choose. Much liked, good  graphics and operability, good heritage, been around nearly 5 years now,  has some good features, timed auto delete and contact blocking, video  calls, to name a few, as well as solid data security management. But  there some significant downsides, one of which, it's funding, we flagged  in our review. Also requires your cell number for registration  purposes...

3. Riot 16 June - https://decentralize.today/decentralization/riot-im

Riot.im  in conjunction with Matrix is a more team oriented app, although it  does allow for 1-2-1. Registration doesn't require an email address or a  cell no and it offers good voice & video. It also allows you delete  for all, which is ok but can be misused! We will be honest here....at  DT we like Riot...it is decentralized, open-source, encrypted (if you  want), notifications, groups and no trackers or permissions. The one  huge downside for us is that it's as ugly as.....the graphics suck!

4. Telegram 26 June - https://decentralize.today/privacy/telegram-secure-or-not

Oh  Telegram.....you promised so much in 2019 and yet...Hong Kong happened! It's all very well having stickers and cloud stored messages that can  be accessed by any of your devices and groups of up to 200,000 members  but when you allow messages to be accessed by the authorities and put  peoples' freedom and safety at risk, well, it doesn't sit well and does  you no favors!

5. Discord 29 June - https://decentralize.today/privacy/discord

Designed  more for gamers, has video and chat features but, as explained at  length in the review, openly collects factual and behavioral data from  users..this is explained in the 'privacy policy' but not in full detail,  also closed code....enough said, we're not fans but each to their own.

6. Status 12 December - https://decentralize.today/privacy/status

A  newer entrant, in beta at present (desktop only in alpha) so  problematic from the get-go as you need to load via their Test Flight  app. Multi-faceted with messaging, browser and crypto-wallet (ETH  favoring!), so lots of promise. Issue over funding as Signal put cash  into Riot...wait! what? Exactly!

​Condensing all of the information gathered into one easy to view chart looks something like this:

Key

V – Voice calls

Z – Video calls

D – Desktop

P – Polls

B – Broadcasting

W – Wallet

X – Browser

GPS – Google PlayStore

NGPS – Needs Google Play Service and Framework

And we're not finished yet...this journey has no end. Commencing on Thursday 19th March, we will commence our 2020 review process with 9 services up for review and a roundup this time next year.

The final verdict:  we like encryption, open-source, no trackers or permission requests,  groups, voice, video, desktop and notifications so there really is only  one service that ticks all the boxes even if the layout leaves a bit to  be desired...sure you can figure it out...clue? We hope you are having  one (but not in a Hong Kong sense of the word!).

Stay safe, people!!