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Signal and WhatsApp: Some common features that you can find in both messaging apps

Cross-platform messaging app Signal has been downloaded by millions of users in India after WhatsApp updated its privacy policy allowing other Facebook companies access to its data.

Akarsh Verma | January 24, 2021 | Updated 19:07 IST

Highlights

  • Signal has become the top downloaded app on both the Google Play store as well as Apple App Store.
  • WhatsApp made a controversial update to its privacy policy allowing other Facebook companies access to its data.
  • The Signal app offers several features similar to WhatsApp like end to end encryption and also new features like a group video call on desktop.

Signal is a cross-platform messaging app just like Facebook-owned WhatsApp or Telegram. You must have heard a lot about the app in the news lately. That's because several WhatsApp users were outraged by the newly updated privacy policy.

WhatsApp announced an update to its privacy policy, which included details of data it collects from users and shares with parent company Facebook. The policy change saw a lot of users being unhappy with the sharing of additional data with parent company Facebook. The policy change also led WhatsApp to delay its implementation of the revised privacy policy update by three months. Signal was one of the beneficiaries of the privacy debate and saw a lot of people endorsing it on social media platforms. One of the names was the Tesla CEO Elon Musk who suggested using the Signal app on Twitter.

Due to the spike in demand, Signal has become the top downloaded app on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store in just a few days. What is even more interesting about Signal is that it is very similar to the Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp.

Top 5 features of Signal:

Linked device: Signal allows users to use the platform on as many devices as possible, like WhatsApp. You can use the Signal app on your phone, laptop, tablet, or any other device, all at the same time.

End-to-end encryption: Like WhatsApp, all messages exchanged on Signal are end-to-end encrypted. This means all messages exchanged with your friends will be visible only to you and your friend and to no one else.

Read receipts: Like WhatsApp, there's an option for a read receipt. This feature can be enabled or disable whenever required. Enabling read receipt means your contacts will be able to see whether you check their messages or not. Disabling the option means, they will not be able to see when or whether you check their message.

Group video calls: Much like WhatsApp, Signal also offers video group calls on mobile as well as on desktop. However, there's no group voice call option available. The process is straightforward, all you need to do is select the contacts, add a name to the group and click on the video icon.

Dark mode: Signal also offers Dark and Light mode options, same as WhatsApp which recently introduced a dark theme. The interface can be changed to light or dark whenever required by heading to the Settings menu, click on Appearance, enable dark/light theme.

However, with people shifting to Signal in huge numbers over a very short period, it would also need to bring in some measures to curb the spread of fake news on its platform, even if it is similar to that WhatsApp. Since Signal has not gained as much traction as WhatsApp, it either did not have to face this issue or witnessed it at a very small scale, eradicating the need to bring in such measures.

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