When it comes to privacy, chat apps that use end-to-end 256-bit AES, enterprise-level encryption are the Holy Grail. End-to-end encryption scrambles and encodes each message you send directly on your phone, allowing only the intended recipient to decode and read it. This encryption process is important because it allows only you and the receiver to read your conversation, preventing malicious parties from snooping and providing you with complete peace of mind. Most Android devices include a semi-encrypted solution in the Google Messages SMS app by default, but is there any other best messaging apps?
What is encryption?
When the message’s code is processed by an encryption algorithm (a block of instructions), which should be AES compliant, the process begins (Advanced Encryption Standard). Anyone who eavesdrops on the message will only be able to make out a jumbled message when it is sent. This is then decrypted (decoded) on the recipient’s device, allowing the message to be hidden from “end-to-end” — from the sender’s end to the receiver’s end.
Encrypted messaging on Android
The Android ecosystem is brimming with powerful security and privacy-focused mobile apps that enable us to send messages without worrying about malicious actors — or government agencies — reading the content. Unfortunately, some of the most popular and best messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram, do not provide end-to-end encryption by default (outside of secret chats), which means that hackers and the company itself could read your messages if intercepted. Furthermore, while the Google Messages app does provide end-to-end encryption when sending messages via RCS, it falls short because that coveted encryption occurs only during one-on-one messages (not group chats) and when both parties enable chat features. Google is also on board with Apple on this, because iMessage provides an end-to-end encrypted, multi-device system (as long as you’re chatting with someone else using an Apple device). As a result, experts agree that when chatting with friends, family, and colleagues, users should use alternatives. Fortunately, within the Android ecosystem, there are a number of best messaging apps for android to choose from that provide true end-to-end encryption. We’ve selected some of our favorites; see which one of the messaging apps is best for you…
Threema is one of the open-source chat apps for messaging with some innovative privacy features. It encrypts data using the NaCl cryptographic function and allows for anonymous login via an ID key. Threema also has a QR “friend-addition” function, as well as voice, picture, video, and text encryption. Its app is particularly popular in Threema’s home country of Germany, and while it isn’t free ($3.99), you may decide it’s a small price to pay for its suite of security features. It is available for both Android and iOS devices.
Another open-source app that provides end-to-end encryption for messages, files, videos, and conference calls is Wire. It also has enterprise-level functions, such as serving as a secure collaboration platform for businesses with integrated video conferencing tools and allowing users to run Wire on a company’s own data centers. Another feature that will appeal to power users is the ability to store decryption keys locally rather than on online servers. Wire Personal is free on iOS and Android, and there is also an Enterprise subscription tier.
Signal is one of the best messaging apps that is end to end encrypted and is widely regarded as one of the most secure messaging apps for android on the market. End-to-end encryption (using a tried-and-true encryption algorithm) is supported on all incoming text, voice, and group-chat messages, as well as media and attachment sharing. Messages that self-destruct, custom wallpapers, a Chrome browser plugin, and animated stickers are among the other features.
WhatsApp is one of the world’s most popular voice and chat apps, and it uses the VOIP standard to send voice data over the Internet. Since 2016, the Facebook-owned app — or, more specifically, the Meta-owned app — has used Signal’s algorithm to encrypt data sent and received via end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp also has or is working on a number of other features, such as disappearing messages, transferring chat history, and end-to-end encrypted backups. WhatsApp is completely free and available on both the Android and iOS platforms, allowing you to securely communicate across borders.
Signal, in our opinion, is the most secure and user-friendly end-to-end encrypted messaging app for the Android platform. It’s also possible to make Signal the system-wide default messaging app, which ensures that all outgoing messages are encrypted, which isn’t available on iOS devices. While we recommend Signal, you can’t go wrong with Threema, Wire, or WhatsApp if your only goal is to keep your chats with friends and family as secure as possible.