Open Whisper has released a new Android and iOS beta of Signal, the popular encrypted messaging app that is a favorite of privacy-advocate Edward Snowden.
The beta brings the ability to have encrypted video calling, which is something that WhatsApp had announced months ago. If you would like to get this to work you just need to go into the Settings menu and click on “Advanced” to find this feature and enable it. You need to have both the caller and the person receiving the call enabling this feature in order for the encrypted video calling to work properly.
There is a new audio codec in the Signal app, with the app now using Opus instead of Speex VoIP. Opus is definitely a better audio codec as it is considered to be a lot more reliable and durable for the smartphone technology. Web Real-Time Communications has also been added to the Signal app on both Android and iOS. This Web Real-Time Communications is replacing the ZRTP protocol, which used to authenticate the key exchanges.
With this beta update iOS users are urged to disable the CallKit integration. The developers have said if you want the most privacy with the Signal app as possible, iOS users need to disable the CallKit integration.
CallKit is a native feature on iOS 10 and you might not even know it is automatically enabled on your iOS device. It basically will store your conversations in the recent calls section and give you an option to take calls from the lock screen. CallKit is good for certain situations and people, but your metadata is put into Apple’s iCloud, including how long you had conversations with someone and all of the people you have called or received calls from.
Of course, privacy advocates like Edward Snowden have been talking for a long time about metadata and why it is not a good thing, so if you are into the most privacy possible, you need to disable this feature.
If you want to disable the CallKit feature on your iOS device, just go into Settings, click Advanced, and then hit Use CallKit. That is where you can disable this feature. Signal is owned by Open Whisper Systems, and the company is looking at ways to change these types of features to be automatically turned on in future updates. For now, though, you need to manually disable this feature from your iOS device.
When it comes to privacy and messaging apps, a lot of them have taken barely any steps to ensure the privacy of the user or safety. One thing that Signal does that stands out among all of the other messaging apps is that it requires both a user and session verification. This helps the app defend against the attacks that are known as man-in-the-middle, and it will keep you safe and secure while using the app. There are many other messaging apps out there, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but privacy features are lacking in those apps.
If you are looking to get the most secure messaging app as you could possibly get, then the Signal app for both iOS and Android is the top choice. You can download the new beta of Signal now for iOS and Android, although remember that beta updates can have some glitches and bugs. The official releases should happen within the next week or so.