Thinking of switching from WhatsApp to Signal? Here’s everything you need to keep in mind

By: |
January 23, 2021 12:46 PM

Does Signal have all the features that WhatsApp offers and how smooth will this transition be?

whatsapp vs signal featuresFinancial Express Online gives you a run down of what to expect.

WhatsApp vs Signal: In the middle of a new privacy policy and evaluation by the Government of India, users in large numbers are shifting from Facebook-owned WhatsApp to alternative instant messaging platform Signal. An open-source not-for-profit messaging app, Signal provides the same end-to-end encryption for the chats that WhatsApp does. What is further pushing people towards using Signal is the advocacy of tech mogul Elon Musk, who has been a vocal critic of Facebook and its products for a long time.

Signal is also becoming popular due to the fact that it is a privacy-oriented instant messaging platform, going to the extent of encrypting even the metadata.

But does Signal have all the features that WhatsApp offers and how smooth will this transition be?

Financial Express Online gives you a run down.

Signal: Creating an account

Creating an account on Signal is fairly simple, and the process is the same as that for WhatsApp. The user is required to key in their phone number along with their desired username, after which a verification code is sent to the phone number. Once that is keyed in, Signal usually asks the user to set a pin for the app, an additional safety feature that WhatsApp does not have. Moreover, Signal requires the user to key in this pin once every day, but this setting can also be disabled if the user so desires.

Apart from this, like WhatsApp, Signal also allows users to register their touch ID or phone unlock as security for the app, and offers a hoard of features to ensure that all bases are covered. For instance, it also gives the user the option to disable Signal previews from being viewed in app switcher, something which is on by default on WhatsApp if the Touch ID security feature is enabled. However, Signal allows users to enable this setting even if Touch ID security feature is not enabled, one-upping WhatsApp.

WhatsApp vs Signal: How do they compare?

Most of the features offered by WhatsApp are also available on Signal, meaning users would be able to transition smoothly without having to compromise much in terms of the way they use their instant messaging app.

Like WhatsApp, Signal also allows audio as well as video calls for individuals as well as for groups of up to eight people, and is supported on iOS, Android and Desktop. Like WhatsApp, Signal also informs the user when the other person is receiving the call, indicated by “Ringing”, and in case the recipient has a weak connection or no connection and is not receiving the call, ‘Ringing’ does not appear, letting the caller know that the call would not mature.

As for the call quality, it is on par with that offered by WhatsApp.

Apart from that, like WhatsApp, users can send several attachments to the chats, from GIFs, images and videos, to contacts, locations and documents. However, as far as location is concerned, WhatsApp has an added feature of sharing live location, which Signal does not have at this stage. The live location feature allows a user to share their live location in a personal or group chat, and the recipient(s) can track the movement of the sender in real-time. The feature has proved to be quite useful for several users from the security point of view.

Moreover, the Facebook-owned instant messenger lets users share a variety of stickers with each other. This functionality is limited in Signal, and their current collection is, frankly, not that good. Reports, however, have suggested that it would be bringing in more stickers, so hopefully, they would come up with a better collection of stickers for users to share and enjoy with friends.

Signal also does not have a payment option, which was released on WhatsApp after much anticipation. WhatsApp users can link their bank account to the platform for a UPI-based payment feature. However, this is a cause of concern among users, especially recently, due to the updated privacy policy by WhatsApp.

Another feature that Signal is missing as compared to WhatsApp is the broadcast list, which allows a user to create a list of recipients and send a message to all of them at once. While seemingly like a ‘channel’ on Telegram, the difference is that the recipients of a broadcast list receive messages on their individual chats with the sender, hence neither knowing that the message has been broadcast nor knowing who the other recipients are.

Signal: The need to fight misinformation

As misinformation and fake news began spreading on WhatsApp since a few years ago, WhatsApp brought some changes to curb this issue. One of them was indicating the word ‘Forwarded’ on any message that had been forwarded from another chat, and another was to limit the number of people to whom a message could be forwarded at once.

Since Signal has not gained as much traction as WhatsApp, it either did not have to face this issue at all or witnessed it at a very small scale, eradicating the need to bring in such measures.

Now, however, with people shifting to Signal in huge numbers over a very short period of time, 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 as WhatsApp.

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