Which messenger(s) do you currently use? If you had your preference, what single messaging service would you prefer to use?
SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, Signal, Wire, Wickr, Telegram, GroupMe, Viber, Threema, etc.
There are dozens of competing messenger services out there, each of which is either supported by or suffers from the network effect. Futhermore, each seems to come with its own pros and cons. I'm curious about not only people's current use, but where everyone thinks we are headed. As such, I have a few questions:
Which messengers do you currently use at the moment? What are their advantages and disadvantages?
If you could magically switch all of your contacts to be on one messaging service, which would it be and why?
Do you think we'll ever see a realistic convergence of messaging, or are people destined to use different platforms for different contacts?
I use WhatsApp, reluctantly, because that's what most of my friends and family use and I'd rather talk to my friends and family than make some principled stand against Facebook. Occasionally Google Hangouts but less these days. Ideally I'd use Signal, which is encrypted, not owned by Facebook and has mostly non-terrible mobile and desktop clients - but only two people I know have that installed.
RCS promises to fix and unify messaging over various clients and platforms. I'm not confident it will.
If it helps, I think using Whatsapp is taking a stance of sorts against Facebook. They would much rather have you on their non-encrypted Messenger service.
What will happen to Whatsapp in time remains to be seen. But in the mean time, as a Facebook hater, I am happy to continue using it.
Whatsapp was designed from the ground up to be secure, user-focussed and resistant to advertising. It originally used Open Whisper's Signal Protocal and as far as I know still does. The founder recently left Facebook (to start the Signal Foundation with Moxie Marlinspike) over disagreements about how to monetise the platform, in that they wanted to and he did not. Story goes that he walked away from $850m in stock options to do so. Brian Acton is a multi-billionaire but that's still pretty ballsy. What Facebook will do with Whatsapp remains to be seen.
I have heard rumours that good quality e2e crypto is a design goal for FB's unified Messenger/Insta/Whatsapp messaging service, and they're moving to make messaging a core part of their business over the coming years. Zuck likes knowing stuff about his users but I think he likes not letting the government read their messages slightly more.
Whatsapp's e2e is basically worthless because it does things making unencrypted backups to icloud or google drive. One of the trump guys got burned that way.
Facebook also hoovers up massive amounts of metadata.
E: signal to whatsapp typo
These things are opt in and can be disabled. WhatsApp is the most widely deployed instance of an e2e encrypted messenger. That is the opposite of worthless.
Eh, that doesn't make it worthless. Signal Protocol still means your messages can't be snooped in transit (unlike SMS) and you can't be man-in-the-middled. You can always turn off backups. I think they're off by default but don't quote me on that.
I'm not sure what counts as 'massive' amounts of metadata but I don't really care all that much. Given the choice, I'd rather FB didn't have that data but I'm not very bothered that they do.
SMS is fine for a fairly limited form of messaging - local, single-person and text only. If I look through current message threads I'm in, there is audio, video, animations, emoji and more. Half of them involve more than one person and I don't recall group SMS working very well (I think my carrier forces them to MMS, which cost me money to send). The other problem is that national SMS might be included in your phone plan, but international rarely is - a significant number of my friends live abroad or at least travel a lot. Telcos say they're not reading your messages but as there's no encryption you have no idea if that true, not to mention the entire system is intentionally backdoored at a network level by the government (at least in the UK) and SMS are trivial to spoof.
Finally, I've never found a decent way to send SMS from my desktop. I like typing on a proper keyboard if I can.
SMS has it's advantages but for me it's like email - worked great for a while when there was no other option but it hasn't kept up and is no longer the best solution. For me. Obviously it's working for you though.
If my parents, sisters, in-laws and best friend don't get at least one or two videos/gifs/photos of their new grandson/nephew/godson doing some baby stuff every day or so I start getting messages asking if something is wrong... one group message to dump all that stuff to is such a time saver.
Voice is good if you're talking to one person. In your timezone. Who is free to talk when you are. On the rare occasions I do call people I never expect them to answer and it's always a surprise if they do. Asynchronous conversation fits so much better into my life. Plus I prefer having a chance to think before I reply, which voice rarely affords. And sometimes I want to reply with an image or a link or something. Perhaps that's down to me having mediated so many of my friendships via message boards but that's just how my life has been for the last 20 years. Rich media messaging is just the personal message board of the current age.
But to each their own, of course. Obviously if SMS ain't broken for you, no need to fix it.
Buuuut email is so clunky though, and nobody uses crypto and my inbox is about 75% messages from shops saying they've posted my item and the threading sucks and inline media is flaky at best and I either have to check it manually or I get notifications all day long for stuff I mostly don't care about and really the only human who emails me any more is my dad. It would be weird to email people at this point. Plus I've got group chats which run to thousands of messages. That's a LOT of re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: fwd: re: re: re: re: re: re: to deal with.
I don't disagree email would work if I bothered getting email addresses for everyone involved and setting up aliases and so on, but then walking works if I want to get somewhere - doesn't mean it isn't faster and less hassle to take my bike.
Especially on mobile, email is just not the way to go if you want to message people on the go. Whatsapp/signal for example automatically compress videos and photos so your mobile data is not getting used too much. For your use case it seems lime SMS is enough, but for me it's pretty much the polar opposite :
I guess as others said it's just the way we communicate - for you it's just short text messages, for others it's long drawn out group messages with a lot of media. Each having their specific tools that can solve them.
You have to trust the telcos on this. SMS is not securely encrypted. That means it's technically feasible for a 3rd party to eavesdrop, and it is absolutely trivial for the cell provider to eavesdrop on messages, as well as forge arbitrary messages, selectively drop them, etc.
You might be fine with it in Australia, but only because you trust your government & telco enough, and/or don't consider your messages sensitive.
If you were a political dissident in Iran, would you trust the "universal" SMS to arrange political protests? How about a Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar, trying to arrange safe passage for your family? Would you recommend that an LGBT person in Russia, where homosexuality is outlawed, text romantic messages to their same-sex partner using SMS?
SMS is many things, by virtue of being the lowest common denominator. But private or secure is absolutely not one of them.
Much better alternatives exist, and are even open & standardized. The current state-of-the-art is the Signal Protocol which originated with the Signal messaging app, as the name suggests. It's also been adopted to various degrees by WhatsApp and Facebook (though unfortunately this doesn't mean there's interoperability at the protocol layer along the lines of IRC or XMPP).
Signal has also become the tool of choice for journalists needing secure communication with their sources. Even if you don't use it, you benefit from it every time you read a news story with information from confidential sources.
OK, so you'll talk to them in person. How do you arrange when and where to meet?
And some things just can't be done face-to-face. This is just a reality of life. Methods for communicating securely using non-face-to-face methods go back to the Caesar cipher at least. In the example I gave of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, imagine they're trying to flee the country and need safe transportation, safe lodging for each night while they travel, and someone to meet them on the other side of the border they're trying to sneak across. That simply can't be done face-to-face in any feasible way.
You're completely missing the point. The carrier can't read it. It's end-to-end encrypted, meaning encrypted before it leaves your phone or computer, and only decrypted by the recipient. Signal the company can't read it. Your cell phone carrier can't read it. Apple or Google or whoever made your phone can't read it.
Since Signal can't read your messages, at all, ever, of course as a company they will comply with law enforcement requests. The developers of it aren't stupid, they don't want to end up in jail for contempt of court any more than you or I do.
The key to Signal is that it's secure even when the company complies 100% with the police and happily hands over all the data they have on you.
As I said, it's an open protocol and it's possible for it to be reviewed and audited by third parties. Some researchers at Oxford, among other places, did exactly that (pdf):
Of course Signal has to comply. They aren't above the law. But they've solved their problem by designing their system from the ground up to have access to essentially no information. Here is what they had to give in response to a subpoena : https://signal.org/bigbrother/eastern-virginia-grand-jury/
So frankly, a dissident in a dictatorship is way better off using signal rather than meeting up in person to coordinate constantly.
While I like its ubiquity, I regularly have technical problems with SMS. It is far from frictionless for me. Do you experience any common issues with SMS? Furthermore, do you find yourself running up against limitations in its featureset?
There are infrequent missed messages (almost always in groups) and the occasional large text that comes through in pieces, at times out of order. Admittedly, these have gotten a lot better recently, but they still happen enough that it's bothersome.
Mainly though, it's that I spend large portions of my time in areas with poor cell signal, and it's a crapshoot as to whether my texts will actually get out. Sometimes I'll be notified that the sending has failed, while other times it'll appear to go through on my end, but my recipient won't get it. My husband and I switched to Signal simply because he was getting maybe 50% of the SMS messages I tried to send while at work. It has worked perfectly, even with the same poor connection. That said, Signal has other frictions, so it's not a perfect universal replacement, but it was a significant step up for us.
I don't think it's a range issue so much as an interference one. I'm well within a coverage area, but I get far better service on the top floor of the building rather than the first, for example.
There's another building I'm in infrequently that's a notorious black hole for cell service. You always see people standing outside it on their phones. I'm convinced it's a giant Faraday cage.
I will say that I've been impressed that Signal seems to work even with a very poor/inconsistent data connection, while SMS doesn't. I'm able to get out messages with a single bar, or when my phone is waffling between one bar and none. Signal also reliably notifies me about its sending status, breaking it into two chunks: letting me know if it's been received by Signal's servers, and then if it's been delivered to my contact. With the unreliability I've had with SMS, that feature alone brings great peace of mind.
Plus, if I don't have any cell service at all (like in the Faraday cage building) I can usually hop on a wireless network and send a message on Signal, but SMS is still non-functional for me in that situation.
Edit: As I re-read what I wrote, I realize I sound like I'm shilling for Signal. Far from it, actually. I posted this whole thread because it wasn't everything I wanted it to be and I was wanting to get others' thoughts on the different platforms out there.
My praise for Signal is more for data-based messaging in general than that one particular app. It just happens to be the one I've used.
I would love an iMessage that felt more like IRC—it needs to focus more on the quality of life of group discussions. If I had to pick only one, though, it'd be iMessage. The many many many features of iMessage (and E2E encryption) that I don't get to use are worth more me than only using IRC. I'd drop everything else in a heartbeat.
Realistically, I don't forsee any convergence—ever. Sorry.
Why is IRC your go to messenger, I've heard of it many times before but I can't really pin down what makes it so attractive compared to say whatsapp or fb messenger which are my main choices.
Same as anybody else, really. My friends are there. And, I found them there, from hanging around in huge IRC chat rooms. I'd honestly prefer to use iMessage, provided it had better quality of life for group chats.
SMS/iMessage for individual communication with anyone, Telegram for group chats with my core friend group. Telegram has the best media sharing features and best selection of cross-platform clients (especially if you're excluding Facebook or Google services), so it was a pretty easy sell to get my friends to install it. The desktop/web clients make it great for sharing quick Photoshops or web links from wherever I am. We treat it like some unholy union of IRC and 4chan.
Discord, because everyone (including my friends in real life) I used to talk to on Skype jumped ship when it became a thing (and good riddance to be honest, Skype is truly awful to use). I've always been more involved with people online than with people in real life, so for me the biggest pro of Discord has always been the fact that it allows me to encounter all these different communities I can be a part of. And while I could say many negative things about it and the way its run, from a usability standpoint it's still the best experience I've had with a messaging client compared to everything else I previously used, so I don't hate it as much as many others do.
Probably Matrix. I absolutely love the unifying concept behind Matrix and I'm a huge proponent of open source software, so Matrix is honestly the messaging software I have the most regards for. But sadly everyone's already settled in other places so I highly doubt I will ever use it much because of that, since I won't have anyone on it. One can hope though.
Probably not, but I think we'll get something close to that. I (sadly) believe Facebook will eventually have a monopoly over the majority of messaging in the Western world, especially once they finalize their plans to combine instagram, facebook and whatsapp messaging into one, unifying a huge chunk of the mainstream market there. Asia's market will also continue to be dominated by WeChat (China) and LINE (Japan and Korea). And the rest of us who refuse to use these services will probably remain a tiny minority, as much as I hate to put it like that. So yeah, there will probably never be something truly unified for the whole world, but in practical terms we're going to get somewhat close to that eventually, even if it's in the worst way possible.
advantages - no client to install, I can leave gmail open in a tab at work, I can also get the messages on my phone via data or wifi. It's completely replaced my SMS. Everybody I talk to on a very regular basis (more than 5x a day) uses gmail already so it's not a big ask for them to talk to me in hangouts.
Disadvantages - My older friends and family still use SMS or iMessage so I have to switch to SMS to talk to them and it's difficult to get them to switch to hangouts. My friends who primarily communicate through facebook and have an iphone are hesitant to switch to hangouts so they message me in discord. Not a huge disadvantage but people who know my email address can just start talking to me.
AOL instant Messenger - because I miss it. Real Answer: Hangouts because of the convenience of having it in the same tab as my email.
As far as I can see, I don't think there will be convergence. The older people I know seem hesitant to switch away from things they already know. People my age are a little more willing to switch but are starting to become weary of anything new as well. Younger people seem to gravitate to whatever. I think it'll be segregated based on age and willingness to try new things.
OK, so I use Whatsapp a lot. What am I really giving up? Facebook wants one thing, it wants to show me ads I might click on. It absolutely sucks at that, but still. That is all it wants. In return for a fast, reliable, capable messaging service they get to know when I send messages and who to. What is the problem with that? There isn't a person reading my messages and I honestly wouldn't care that much if there was. It's not particularly personal information. I mean, it's personal to me, in the sense it relates to the person who is me, but it's nothing that's actually personal, nothing I particularly care about. It's not like I'm detailing my weird sexual kinks or my secret crime plans or something I actually want to keep private. There's tonnes of stuff I don't put on the internet because I want to keep it private. That I send 20+ messages a day to my wife just isn't something I care about keeping quiet. If I did it by text my phone carrier would know, if I sent letters my postman would know, etc.
It's not that I'm unaware of what Facebook are doing, and it's not that I wouldn't use something else if there was a realistic choice, but equally I just don't care very much. I like to think I'm capable of critical thought, so what am I missing?
Which databases? In the context of messaging services, the databases containing encrypted messages and non-encrypted metadata? Messages which, even if they were decrypted, are mostly just about remembering to buy milk or silly gifs. That's not going to help anyone steal anything.
Also "strewn all over the internet" isn't the case. I don't hugely trust Facebook (which is why I don't tell them things I actually want to keep private) but they do employ good information architects. A friend of mine is one of them. My data there, my data at Google - it's pretty well secured. My phone itself is likely easier to break into than their databases.
I'm sure they're good (and with the amount they get paid, they really should be), but they're still not perfect. Just last week, they noticed that they've had hundreds of millions of users' passwords sitting around in plaintext for 6+ years.
The overall problem with them keeping so much data forever is that it only takes one slip-up. If a server with a full history of everyone you've talked to and when (even if not the actual messages) ends up exposed and that data all gets extracted, there's no way to put that genie back in the bottle afterwards. Maybe there wouldn't be anything in there that's worrisome for you personally, but there certainly would be for a lot of other people.
Given the choice between a service with a nightmare scenario (even an unlikely one) and another one where a similar scenario can't possibly happen, it's a lot better to encourage as many people as possible to use the latter.
Given the choice I'd use Signal, but I don't have the choice - I have to use the service that the people I want to talk to are using, or I don't get to talk to people. If I could get people to change then I would do, but all that ends up happening is one or two people install it then never use it. I like my friends more than I like Signal, so I don't use Signal.
If I were in a position where I did want to keep things quiet and/or couldn't risk even small things like metadata getting out I'd be less blase about it. But that doesn't change the fact that - at least for me - there appears to be no significant risk.
I don't think you're acting maliciously here, I'm sure rather the opposite. But your well-meaning actions could be based on faulty premises. Maybe it really doesn't matter that there's a database somewhere with my message metadata in.
fwiw, I've spent years considering this. These issues have been on (OK, mostly off, but sometimes on) my mind since SMS came along, let alone Whatsapp. I'm aware of the technical aspects and my conclusion is that there's just nothing that bad happening and the risks are too small to bother about when you consider the benefits. I haven't heard anything that's particularly convincing otherwise.
Hangouts is great, and used to be so much better! Did you ever use it when it had SMS functionality built in? I would SMS my parents from Gmail, it was beautiful. Then Google decided to kill it for whatever inane reason.
I didn't, but it would be amazing if they would include that functionality again.
In a given week, I will use Facebook Messenger, Slack, SMS, Discord, and Snapchat.
I have accounts on many many more services.
I absolutely hate it. Where does it stop?! I have some friends I don't talk to as much as I might otherwise because I don't want to get on yet another messaging service.
In my perfect world, there would be a 3rd party messaging service which integrated with all the others, and it would have all the regular features we've come to expect from a multimedia client, like in-line images, custom emojis, link previews, etc. This service will not sell the contents of my messages to advertisers. (I'd also be willing to pay a monthly fee for it).
This is the showstopper, I think. I would also be more than willing to pay for something like that, but would most other people? I think, at this point, people simply expect messaging to be free.
Unfortunately, that means that a feature-rich service has no way of financially sustaining itself. While I love Signal as much as the next person, the fact that it has no monetization method is unsettling. It costs money to run and develop--how are they going to make it work long-term?
Wikipedia has a brief overview of their funding. And last year they made a pretty big announcement:
Slightly more background with this Wired Article.
Currently I'm using Matrix.org for my main messaging service because it's secure, open source, decentralized, respects your privacy, works on most platforms and you can host your own server.
Signal is my second go to messaging service and I'm only using it with people who I don't mind sharing my phone number with. It's a bit easier for people to use than Matrix.org and ease of use seems to be the top feature on everyone's list.
I would like everyone to switch to Matrix.org because I genuinely think it's the best option currently available.
IMO Matrix.org currently offers a pretty realistic way of convergence because of the Matrix.org bridges. You can bridge different messaging services together and use all of them from the Matrix.org client.
I use SMS, Discord, and IRC, and in the past, I've used Skype, Google Talk / Hangouts. SMS is nice because it works anywhere and it works on my crappy feature phone that doesn't support any other message service, but it only goes to other phones, and I have to pay every time I use it as well. Discord is definitely the most feature rich and has most of my communities on it, but I don't like that its proprietary and driven for money. IRC is open, cross-platform, and works with dozens of different clients, but it doesn't support history when you're offline and can be rather a pain to set up the first time, with the passwords and all.
If I could, I'd move everyone to IRC + email, although I've heard XMPP might be more of what I'm looking for. Something cross platform, open source, highly extensible, and preferably decentralized.
I think we'll always see a couple of different services, but I do think the diversity in chat services is declining, and will continue to do so. Social services by nature are driven by community - your friends have to be on the service for you to use it as well - and tech companies have a vested interest in building isolated ecosystems that can't communicate with each other.
I don't message a ton, but the 3 people who I messaged the most actually had all converted to Allo to give it a shot. I'm sure we were the only 3 people in the world who used it until the bitter end. I'm an Android person and wanted an option to message from the computer so I didn't message from my phone all the time.
For what it's worth, I'm in the US, so SMS is the baseline messaging platform. Unfortunately, with all of my friends I'm the dude that makes our group messages use the dreaded green bubble.
My friends don't trust me anymore for getting them onto that dead end bandwagon. I'm now using just SMS and one friend who really wants me to use discord. It just seems like a really heavy application to only use for messaging! I don't really want a store, and voice and all of those bells and whistles, I just want to be able to type my messages out from the computer. Now that you can SMS from your computer with Android, I'm trying to convince him that would be a better solution (he messages other people with SMS too, so I wouldn't be forcing him to pick up something new for only one person again). I made him jump ship to Allo though, so I'm using that with him for the time being.
I understand the irony of me not wanting extra bloat and me suggesting Google supported messaging platforms too. There's no perfect solution, and I think messaging is destined to be fragmented.
Hopefully RCS would solve these problems, but unless Apple okays it then it will never happen. And they have no reason to do it, so I think RCS is pretty much DoA, as much as I hate to say it.
In an ideal world something that was FOSS with end to end encryption would be used by everyone. So I guess Signal is the closest thing? I am not a software person, so it might be an oxymoron to be FOSS and encrypted (i.e. I don't understand if you would have to make your encryption public to be open source?).
I just want to feel secure and message from my computer it my phone, alright? And not need my phone to message like you do for WhatsApp.
Christ, I feel this so hard. I absolutely loathe typing on a phone keyboard if I can help it and yet so many messaging platforms don't have a web client or a dekstop app.
Works pretty well. You still need a phone and a data connection on that phone, but at least you can type properly.
For real. Even though it doesn't work so great, I'm super happy that you can now SMS from the computer with Android messages. I feel like I don't have to reply to things instantly anymore and just get to my messages when I am at my computer next.
I've been trialing Wire as a replacement to Signal with a few of my contacts. The app looks like it's more tailored to teams in the business world, but it's free for personal use.
The nicest feature it offers is that it has a functional webapp for messaging. The biggest downside, however, is that your chat history is not pulled up in the webapp. If it had that feature and a couple other QoL things, I'd consider throwing in my lot with it and trying to get some of my contacts to shift over to it. Unfortunately, at present it still has a few hiccups and, of course, suffers from the fact that nobody uses it.
To answer this question, it is not an oxymoron to be FOSS and encrypted. I understand the intuition, though: FOSS is about making things public that are usually private (source code), and encryption is about making things private that are usually public (literally anything), but it's not an accurate intuition in this situation because those are acting on different levels.
For most encryption algorithms to be secure, what needs to be secret is the private key (or passphrase), not the algorithm itself. In fact, the majority of researchers think that for an algorithm to be secure, it should be publicly viewable! That way, security researchers can look at it and try to attack it from every angle to make sure it's robust. A lot of the most used encryption libraries in the world, that keep the entire internet safe, are FOSS. So as long as you can keep your encryption keys safe, and you're using trusted and maintained software, you're good to go, even (especially) if it is FOSS.
So yeah, Signal is a great solution, as is Matrix or XMPP (with OMEMO) in the messaging space. Telegram is a bit of a weird case because they wrote their own encryption libraries instead of using well-tested ones. Other FOSS tools with encryption include Veracrypt, LUKS, GPG, Keybase, IPFS, and of course stuff like cryptocurrencies.
: Things like OpenSSL/LibreSSL/BoringSSL, libsodium, GPG, etc.
: It's licensing is a little tricky, though.
: Specifically, I believe IPNS uses public-key cryptography. Otherwise, IPFS mostly just uses hashes.
Thanks for the response and the explanations! I probably should have read into it myself, but it's very helpful to have someone someone explain it to me. Intuitively, it makes sense that it should work, but my lack of understanding of internet security/cryptography get me second guessing myself about these kinds of things constantly!
It's very much not an oxymoron. FOSS refers to the source code of the software itself. Encryption only concerns itself with the data that the software handles. Encryption (the algorithm) is part of the software, too, and it should definitely be open source for the software as a whole to be considered FOSS.
If you are worried about the encryption being open-source weakening it, don't be. Security through obscurity is no security at all - and having the code out in the open allows people to actually check on it, at the very least see how it's put together and from what and if the encryption system being used is not homebrewed. It being closed source won't stop bad actors from getting access to it, not if it also has to run on their devices.
Thanks a lot for this response. I have become more interested in my online security recently (I get the irony of using Allo here) but I'm embarrassingly uneducated when it comes to this kind of thing.
Intuitively, this makes sense to me, but my lack of understanding about internet security/cryptography often get me confused.
This response rules, thanks again.
I haven't seen a big computer security group here in tildes yet, but I can suggest https://reddit.com/r/netsec for general computer security news and discussion, and https://reddit.com/r/crypto for cryptography discussion (full disclosure, I'm a moderator of /r/crypto).
Having had a good run with most of them as they became popular over the years, I'm finding Discord to be a real breath of fresh air. I was pretty surprised to find such diverse answers in here honestly. It seems like most of the communities I frequent have moved to having a subreddit backed by a discord server, and dropped most of the older messaging services altogether. Apparently my experience is not as common as I thought.
To answer the questions, nevertheless, I'd have to say
Discord. The only thing I would improve is to make it open source, but then it might not be as functional and well-maintained as it is so that's up for debate.
Discord because it has it all and still manages to be fast and reliable. Everything from text to voice to video to screen sharing and remote desktop capabilities, all possible between more than two people at a time. In addition, it's not limited to phones at all, and most of the time I use it from my desktop. It covers all modes of communication I need it to.
Probably not, because there is such massive inertia involved, as evidenced by this thread.
Mostly Telegram, Slack once upon a time, and lately Discord. Their main advantage is the fact that the people I want to talk with are on them - Telegram has huge issues (they rolled their own crypto, their servers are closed, they lack any way to block/ignore an user outside of private chats), but at least their desktop app is not Electron crap. Discord is flat-out not open, and I am leery of using this kind of services.
Probably Matrix. It's open, it's federated, it has E2E encryption (at least with one client), it has decent bridges from what I can see.
We will probably not converge anywhere except to a few huge silos with a bunch of smaller networks. I just wish that bridging them could be made easy, but of course that won't happen.
I used Allo, but that's discontinued. I've moved back to Android Messages (default SMS app) in anticipation for RCS, since I only talk to one person really, it's not that big of a deal. I also talk to a bunch of rando's on Discord.
Out of curiosity, why are you against messengers that have strong group-chat tools? Riot and Telegram have pretty good 1-on-1 chat experiences, too.
Also, why does Riot/Matrix count as being group chat-focused, while XMPP/Jabber doesn't? I feel like they both fulfill a similar niche.
I mostly use signal, and signal is my preferred messaging app. I got a few of the most important people in my life to use it as well, at least when talking to me. For everyone else I use SMS.
I use WhatsApp. I shouldn't really, but everyone I know uses it, barely anyone uses texts anymore. I'm in a few different groups on WhatsApp with my friends. One for sharing videos, one that has just a couple of close friends in, another for friends who don't live here anymore. It's very easy to setup new groups, share images or videos etc.
Really weird that matrix was only mentioned once.
I don't know why, but I can't really get my head round this one. How do you use it?
Honestly, it's not that surprising, cause the linked site is really a description of the protocol aimed at developers, not a great walk-through of what it means for the average user. If you're interested in using it, the main client implementation is Riot (it's developed by the same developers, but all clients are interoperable).
Matrix (and, by extension, Riot) is still a little early in its development, but is progressing very quickly (they just announced their 1.0 release). They have a lot of nice features like decentralization, end-to-end encryption, and perhaps most importantly, bridging to other messaging services. I would say they are not quite mature enough yet to go mainstream, but I imagine in a year or so, it will be a very attractive ecosystem. Whether that will actually make it popular remains to be seen, but design-wise, they seem to be doing a lot of things right.
Why can't you get around this one? So, matrix is the protocol, then there are clients that use this protocol, such as riot.im, nheko, etc etc. Check a list of clients here: https://matrix.org/docs/projects/clients-matrix
Matrix is like e-mail, in that it is decentralized. So, you can run your own server and communicate with others. In e-mail, g-mail users can communicate with hotmail users. A similar thing is possible with matrix.
I use WhatsApp with my family and iMessage/sms everywhere else. WhatsApp is nice because it lets us use more advanced features in groups than SMS, since half of us are on android and half on iOS
I’m stuck with WhatsApp for friends who use it in group chats (planning birthday parties and such). I’m trying to move to Telegram, less for crypto/privacy reasons but just to have a simple way of escaping the facebook grip. It’s striking how easy it is to switch, it gives me hope. Got most of the people I message regularly to switch with me and it was painless.
iMessage pretty much exclusively, but I'm a communications recluse. Want to let me know there's a birthday party coming up? Better either call, text or email. I won't have anything Facebook- or Google-related on my phone, mostly on principle. I only log into FB from desktop, and then very rarely, only to talk to two or three people who always beg me to get FB Messenger, but there's no way I'm falling into that trap. Why, when you can reach me other ways? Hell, I miss when people would actually call and chat for a bit!
I'm not in the U.S so if i need to contact friends, family, business and social networking i have to use WhatsApp. For me it has no advantages over other messaging apps as Telegram even if it uses E2E ands the big downside of being own by Facebook. Sometimes i use Telegram with my close friends and family and i like the extra features i don't find in other messengers, specially bots as IFTTT that i see it really underrated. I have used Discord few times just for voice chat with some of my friends and play online.
I use sms. I recently switched from messages to signal because I found out signal can do sms and mms, but I don't use the signal protocol with any contacts. Everyone I know and would want to communicate with uses sms. Longer messages seamlessly go over mms without me even knowing. Group mms works flawlessly for me. I have seen other people have some hiccups, but I can usually help them fix it within a few minutes. I have not seen a phone plan (in the us) that does not include unlimited sms/mms for years. It also works better than anything on flaky coverage areas like when I go skiing. I see no reason to use anything else.
I mostly use WhatsApp because that's what everybody uses. SMS is a no go except very rarely because there is a big spam problem (at least here in Turkey, I get 1-10 spam messages every day) and I've basically turned off the notifications for it (shows up but no buzz or sound), mostly use it for 3D secure verification codes.
I'd like to give Signal a try, but nobody I know uses it. And I'm not a big fan of IM too, I just use it when I need it, I don't like smalltalk chasing me around throughout the day (whereas many people are constantly interacting with other people throughout the day, over multiple media). So I don't really care all that much, except if WhatsApp removes E2E or starts advertising, then I'll most probably stop using it. I do like multimedia messages and voice/video calls over the internet tho. Maybe if Signal could convince Samsung or HTC to preinstall Signal as the SMS/MMS app, more people would start using it.
I use iMessage for direct family and friends.
For general online people I use Discord, Reddit Chat, and Telegram. This is not ranked in any particular order, but I do have the largest presence on Discord out of the 3. I'm not in many open channels on Telegram as it's my 'last resort' as it is the least censored compared to Reddit or Discord.
Discord because some people use it and it's not under the FB umbrella. Signal because it replaces your regular SMS app and can send messages more securely if the other person also has Signal, it's a no-brainer.
My D&D group created our own Discord group (I guess that's a messenger, isn't it?) But that's pretty much the only thing I use Discord for. For everything else I stick with regular SMS, which is down like 90% since the D&D group stopped using it. The only person I text now is my girlfriend.
For my family, I've been using Hangouts. My parents use Hangouts, the rest I use the Google Voice integration to connect with them. It's going to be really annoying when Google shuts down Hangouts.
Discord has basically replaced Steam chat for me, which is great because the Steam app is still crap on Android. I also have Skype, but only because it keeps re-enabling itself. I want to nuke that shit from orbit but Microsoft seems bent on forcing it down my throat. Skype should be classified as malware at this point.
I wish I could have everyone on Hangouts (without needing Google Voice integration and the looming shutdown) because it's available on every device.
Mine is so fragmented but I use different messaging services for different purposes. In a given month, I'll have used Whatsapp, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram Direct, sometimes SMS, Telegram, Slack and Discord at the very least. Telegram and Discord I use more so to contact people I don't know IRL as such.
Facebook Messenger. It's what my friends and family use.
I would prefer a peer to peer solution for this (one of the few situations I think decentralization is great for), but to talk to people there has to be people to talk to.
I use SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Discord. I only use WhatsApp because I have a long time friend on there that quit using Discord, SMS, I use to message people without a cellular data connection/without an iPhone, iMessage, I use to communicate with my family/friends that I know IRL (as literally everyone I met IRL has an iPhone now), and Discord, I use to have nice discussions in some servers, and also communicate with moderators of subreddits I moderate on Reddit*.
*aside from some subs, r/comedy, r/sbubby, r/ExpandDong, r/NoNut19 (yes I'm serious about that, I do mod their sub), and /r/gravityforum are the only subs I mod that use Discord to talk with other mods, every other sub either uses modmail/reddit chat or has mods that are so inactive that I'm doing all the work.
WhatsApp because it's what the entire country uses so i'm stuck. Even the storefronts have whatsapp numbers now.
I'm in Matrix waiting for the overtake that will never come. I'm in two groups that are mostly dead. The one from my country didn't spoke a word since i joined.