Ever notice that there are a whole ton of messaging options, and more keep coming out? I have at least seven different messaging platforms installed on my phone. Since different people have their own preferred platform, sometimes we have to use multiple ones, or sometimes different ones for different purposes. How many of these have you heard of:
I have a few personal opinions about how we got here. #rant alert
A general problem:
There have been many “standards” over the years. They work great until some company comes up with a different idea and makes their own “standard”. Choice. Sometimes that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. One one hand, a savvy consumer can make good choices. On the other hand, it can be overwhelming.
Google’s problem is that they keep changing things. Why they don’t just call their service Google Messenger and STAY WITH THE ONE APP; just update it or roll out whatever changes are actually necessary. They have a beta test mechanism, so they should just use that to test out new ideas. They keep rolling out new platforms and killing off their old platforms. And again. And again. Or they try something slightly different when they don’t need to. Sometimes they roll parts of their old platform into a new platform, but still require the user to sign up on a different page and install a different app.
Grand Central. Google Cloud Messaging. Google Talk. Hangouts. Allo. YouTube Messages. Together. And those are just a few of the ones listed on the Killed by Google page https://killedbygoogle.com/ that are of a messaging nature that have been shut down. Google has plenty of other products & services that could be considered on the watch list. The Android platform is the biggest in the world. It is a pity Google gives it a bad name by killing off their own products.
Microsoft keeps focusing on solutions for businesses, and then trying something for consumers because someone else came up with an idea that ended up being popular. They often end up being too late to really make a difference. Like Google, Microsoft has had a number of different options over the years. Remember MSN? Windows Live Messenger? Are many of you using Skype daily? Microsoft has moved on to Teams in business environments. And while it is powerful, I know many individuals who are barely scratching the surface with what it can do.
Apple’s problem is they have to have their own individual systems that they keep separate from everybody else, often refusing to play nice with anybody else. They often give inaccurate impressions regarding their security. You do not manage your own encryption, so even if they say “we cannot read your messages”, it would be more accurate to say they are choosing to say publicly that they currently are choosing to not do so, not that they cannot from a technical standpoint. Their closed monopolistic ecosystem is possibly a topic I’ll address my opinions in a future post (for those who have not heard my rant in person).
I’m not going to go through all the rest in too great detail. WeChat (possible Chinese government controlled), What’sApp / Facebook Messenger (FB owned & controlled. ‘nough said?), others in the above list are not widely enough adopted. There’s too many options to go through each in depth in a single post. Not to mention some things have changed from when I started drafting this post.
What am I using?
I use Threema. It is end to end encrypted, has good security, well designed app, and allows me to manage my own security. It is actively being supported & developed, but not ruined by feature creep or restrictions. The non-technically inclined might consider it too complex to set up, but it is worth it. Less secure, Signal gets my SMS messages (which are not secure anyway), and Signal messages (secure end to end encrypted). The app itself is not as secure as I would like it to be, and it depends on your phone number as an identity, but I’ve been using it. Both of them are cross platform, and definitely worth moving from the insecure messaging applications.