How is Discord different from WhatsApp groups

Apps / software WhatsApp alternatives: which messengers are there?

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More and more users want to get away from WhatsApp for a variety of reasons. Not least because of the planned merger with Facebook Messenger and Instagram. But what alternatives are there to still keep in touch with friends and family? And are they really that much better than WhatsApp? We have put together a list of messenger apps for you.

Telegram

Telegram is a messenger that is offered on various platforms: Both as a smartphone app and through browser use and programs on the computer. Telegram uses a general cloud synchronization. This means that you can access all messages from any of your devices. Unless you are in what are known as "secret chats". These chat rooms are secured with end-to-end encryption. Only the sender and addressee can read the messages. However, there are always doubts about the actual security of the encryption. All messages are saved on servers, but automatically deleted after a while.

You can use Telegram to record and send audio messages and video messages. Just like with WhatsApp, you can create groups and customize the app to suit your own needs too. All common file formats can be sent with this app. By the way, since an update in May 2018, Telegram no longer automatically reads your cell phone's contacts. However, it is still questionable whether the app is fully GDPR compliant.

Discord

Discord was originally created as a Teamspeak or Skype alternative. The main target audience at the time were gamers and game developers. In the meantime, Discord has also established itself as a regular instant messenger. In contrast to many other messenger apps, Discord does not read the smartphone's contacts. The program is cross-platform. This means that you can access the messages from your mobile device as well as from your computer using a program or browser. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that you can access your messages from anywhere. However, your messages are also stored on the Discord servers and can therefore theoretically be viewed by the provider. So there is no end-to-end encryption.

With Discord, messages can be deleted from the sender. This means that they are also deleted directly from the recipient. So you could remove all conversations - nobody can really see them anymore. Of course, you have to trust that Discord will actually delete the data from the server. Files can also be sent without any problems. Calls and video calls are possible - but no voice messages. Contact lists can also be created across platforms and groups (here they are called "servers") can also be created. Disadvantage of Discord: The program is not open source, so that the user cannot search for errors in the system himself. The program itself is GDPR-compliant, but each user has to be careful which bots are active on servers. Since the bots can come from external sources, it is not always certain which data they collect.

Threema

Threema is a paid messenger. However, there are no regular fees, instead the user license has to be purchased once for just under 3 €. The focus here is on the security of user data: any form of communication is always end-to-end encrypted. This includes not only regular messages, but also files, calls or voice messages that have been sent. Just like with WhatsApp, you can also create groups and make video calls in this messenger.

In order to ensure even greater security, the app also does not use cloud synchronization. If you want to use the app, you can only do so on mobile devices. There is a browser version, but there is no computer program (so far). Incidentally, Threema can read out your phone contacts when the synchronization is switched on. A disadvantage only arises when the synchronization is switched off: the contacts are no longer automatically integrated, but are still read out. However, if you do not enable synchronization as an authorization the very first time you start the app, the contacts will not be read. A bonus: Threema is GDPR compliant!

signal

Signal is a very secure app, open source and free of charge. All communication is secured with end-to-end encryption. In addition, there is no cloud storage and you can set messages to be automatically deleted after a while. The app is only available for iOS and Android. However, there is also a desktop client so that you can access your messages on the computer.

The open source app offers you a variety of functions for this purpose: You can create groups and send all kinds of files. This even includes location reporting and the sending of contacts. Signal reads the contacts stored in the phone, but they are not processed on the server. You can easily make calls via Voice-over-IP and video calls via the app. It is also possible to send voice messages - and these are also encrypted. Signal is GDPR compliant.

Viber

The free messenger app Viber advertises with great certainty. The app uses end-to-end encryption. With Viber you can also use all common messenger features: write messages, send voice and video messages and use group chats. Besides, you can also make calls and video calls with this app. This is done via Voice-over-IP.

Viber is particularly characterized by the fact that it comes with a variety of emojis and stickers with which you can personalize each message. You can use this app on all common devices: be it on the iPhone, an Android-based device or as a desktop version on a Windows computer.

Wire

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Wire is a free app with high security standards: All messages are end-to-end encrypted. The app is also open source. This means that anyone can look at the source code and look for bugs. Wire does not use cloud storage. Messages are only temporarily stored on the servers - and of course in encrypted form.

As in WhatsApp, you can make phone calls and send voice messages via Wire. Group calls are also possible. If there are just two of you, you can even make a video call - a one-to-one conversation, so to speak. A special function of this app is the secure screen transfer. In this way you can tell your contacts directly what you are watching. Wire is a free app. Only for business customers does the messenger cost 6 € per month per user. You can set whether the app reads your own contacts on the smartphone: People you may know can be displayed. But only if you have given the app the right. All in all, there is also GDPR conformity here.

Free instant messengers

The messengers mentioned so far all have one disadvantage: They are each a closed system. There are other types of messengers. These are so-called free instant messengers. These use open standards such as XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol; formerly Jabber). They are also still open source. One of the most famous free messengers is Conversations. This messenger uses end-to-end encryption and is also open source. These properties make Conversations a very secure messenger with which you are not tied to a closed system.

In addition to the normal sending of messages, the functions also include group chats and the sending of pictures. It is also possible to create an XMPP server. For example, you can better network your smartphone with your Raspberry Pi. If the user so wishes, the app can access the smartphone's internal address book in order to add possible contacts. If this is not desired, the app does not access the mobile phone contacts in any way. Conversations can be purchased for € 2.39 in the Google Playstore.

More messengers

Of course there are many other messengers. For example, the following are also recommended: