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Signal to remove SMS support from Android

Signal stops texting support from Android so it can focus on developing a more secure and reliable platform.

Image: THAWEERAT/Adobe Stock

If you have relied on the Signal messaging app on Android for SMS communication, your access to the plain text feature in the app will soon be terminated.

To prioritize security and privacy, Signal has announced that it will soon be phasing out SMS and MMS support on Android. The cross-platform centralized encrypted instant messaging platform, which merged its RedPhone encrypted voice calling app and TextSecure encrypted SMS protocol in 2014 to release Signal, has supported instant SMS messaging on Android for over five years.

However, Signal now believes it has reached the point where SMS support for Android users will be scrapped so they can focus on the security and privacy offerings on the Signal platform.

“We’re focused on building secure, intuitive, reliable and enjoyable ways to connect without supervision, tracking or targeting,” Signal said in a blog post. “Dropping text messaging support also frees up our capacity to build new features (yes, like usernames) that will keep Signal fresh and relevant going forward.

“After much discussion, we have determined that we can no longer continue to invest in accommodating SMS in the Android app while devoting the resources we need to make Signal the best messenger out there.

SEE: Mobile Device Security Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Following the announcement, users now have a few months to leave the SMS feature in Signal and export their text messages to another app or the default Android messaging app.

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What this new change means for Signal users on Android

Signal explained that this new change would only affect Android users who use Signal as their default SMS application. By this they mean that users can only be affected if Signal is their medium for receiving and sending text messages. For this category of users, the company advised that they should use other apps for their SMS communications and would make provisions to allow them to export their SMS to other platforms.

Since Signal made this announcement, it has been: Twitter page has been inundated with mixed reactions from users. While some users view the move as bad for Signal, others welcome the announcement because the move only affected SMS communications. Nevertheless, Signal hopes that its 40-plus million users will understand and adapt to the new changes this will bring.

“We understand that this change will be frustrating for those of you who use Signal on Android for texting in addition to sending Signal messages. It rarely feels good to change the way you communicate with the people who matter to you. have to change,” Signal explains. “We have not made this choice lightly, but we feel it is necessary to ensure Signal meets the highest privacy standards going forward.”

Why Signal is waiving SMS support for Android

According to Signal, there were three main reasons that led to SMS support being removed from the Signal app in Android. One of the reasons is that plain text messages have become increasingly insecure, as they can be easily intercepted using various methods, giving away access to metadata. Signal also states that since text messages are insecure, it has become easy for telecommunications companies to invade people’s privacy.

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“Because privacy and security are at the heart of what we do, it doesn’t align with our values ​​and what people expect when they open Signal,” the company explains.

The second reason is that the cost of instant messaging data has become very affordable, unlike in the past when quite a few people could afford data. At the same time, SMS costs are now high in various parts of the world. According to Signal, this has led to more SMS costs for users. Therefore, there was no need to continue supporting SMS communications when users could easily access data and use it for more secure instant messaging.

The third reason is that Signal felt that having text messages in addition to other instant messaging features in the Signal interface is not good for the user experience. Signal argued that some users often misunderstood text messages sent or received through the Signal interface as secure and private when they were not. To put an end to this confusion, removing the SMS feature was the best move.

After this announcement, one may wonder what alternatives Signal users have. Currently, Telegram and WhatsApp offer encrypted instant messaging. However, Signal users may find it difficult to turn to these secure messaging platforms as they do not offer plain text SMS communication and rely on data. While other names such as TextNow, Microsoft’s GroupMe, and Viber have competed with Signal in providing text messaging support on Android devices, users may be concerned about the ability of these alternatives to provide maximum security and privacy.

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