The data Whatsapp plans to capture and share with it’s parent company, Facebook, is mentioned in the image. However, this step isn’t as appalling to me as my peers . This was always on the roadmap of the application. Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg would pay $16bn to acquire Whatsapp otherwise?
However, for those who still are concerned by Facebook using their data to play with their minds, let us explore some best Whatsapp alternatives in 2021 that are working in India. In this post I will mention some unique features these platforms may have to offer. Later, I will compare generic features of these platforms with Whatsapp. So let’s get started.
Launched back in 2013, Telegram currently a user base of 400mn globally, telegram is the second, most used, instant messaging platform after Whatsapp. Apart from the basic attributes of messaging and video calling, there are some unique traits of telegram. Lets discuss them:
A1. Group Chat:
Telegram does offer group chat like Whatsapp does. But unlike Whatsapp’s capping of 256 members, telegram can have 2,00,000 members. If you have always wondered why all society/mohalla groups are on Telegram you have the answer.
Apart from that, their are multiple features that make a group chat super intuitive. You can run polls, quizzes, hashtags. Similar features are available for a broadcast channel as well. You may add up to 200k members for a broadcast group.
A2. Secret Chat:
One can use this functionality if they plan to leave no traces of the conversation. Secret chat is end-to-end encrypted chat that lets you converse with the other person using self destruct messages. You can set a timer for self destruction of these messages as per your convenience. Messages, once read, get auto deleted from sender’s and receiver’s chat, once the timer expires. One cannot take screenshots OR forward these messages either.
A3. File Sharing:
Just like Whatsapp, files can be shared in telegram as well. Video, Audio, PDFs, APK- all file formats are supported. However, unlike Whatsapp, the size limit in Telegram is a staggering 1.5GB. I can see a lot of merit in this at workplace where outlook allows a file size of 35MB space and you are too lazy to upload it on cloud. Telegram can rescue you in such situations.
A4. Desktop Client:
While highlighting some pros, it is important to take a note of some cons as well. I didn’t like the fact that their is no web based version of telegram. You have to mandatorily download a desktop client which will sit as a software on your laptop. I like the ‘no strings attached’ version of Whatsapp Web. A quick closure of the tab and you are back to work. Let’s see if telegram leverages this privacy war and enables this.
A5. Other Drawbacks:
Apart from the desktop client, there are a few other shortcomings in the application as well:
- I would get a notification as soon as my contact joins the telegram. You can turn it off from settings but it is super annoying. These also are counted towards your unread notifications, further worsening the situation.
- E2E encryption is not enabled by default. Only when you are having a secret chat, your texts are encrypted. Otherwise, they aren’t. This means that desktop client as well won’t support secret chats.
Signal is around since 2014 and we wouldn’t have been discussing this had Elon Musk, not tweeted about it. Ever since world’s newest richest man endorsed Signal, the application has seen a surge in downloads and is currently tops the Apple Appstore free application chart.
Fun Fact: Share price of a company with related name (Signal) has also soared by 7x after this tweet. It’s a crazy world we live in.
Coming back to product features: Signal tries to offer you a one stop solution for all your messaging related needs. It can replace your default SMS application and work as a two-in-one platform handling text and signal messages both. You will be notified if you are trying to send message via Signal or normal text message via a padlock symbol, that denotes if the message is secure (signal) or unsecure (SMS).
B1. Disappearing Messages:
Just like Telegram, you can enable self destruct messages (called disappearing messages) in Signal. In this case, you need not specifically setup a secret chat and can enable/disable it any time in the existing chat window itself.
B2. Desktop Client:
The same story is repeated here. The desktop client needs to be downloaded separately and there is no web based app that can enable quick access for you.
B3. Groups and Broadcast:
There is a possibility of making groups on Signal application with a limit of 1000 members. However, there is no broadcast functionality as of now. Another tweet from Elon Musk may jolt the developers to add it (maybe).
B4. Note to Self:
I’ll be honest here, I liked this feature a lot. Quite often I use my Whatsapp as clipboard/ to-do list/ notepad. My thoughts, ideas can be accessed any time from Whatsapp. I also tend to share an image to a a contact just to access it via laptop using WA web.
However, for that, I send messages to my other number. That is not required here any more. There is an auto generated contact called ‘note to self’ and you can park all your thoughts there.
Here’s a tl;dr version of the above article. You can compare the key features of three platforms in a quick glance.
|Group Chat||Yes (Upto 256 Members)||Yes (Upto 200k Members)||Yes (Upto 1000 Members)|
|Group Video Call||Yes (Upto 8 Participants)||No||Yes (Upto 5 Participants)|
|File Sharing||Yes (Upto 16MB for Photos and 100MB for Documents)||Yes (Upto 1.5 GB)||No|
|Native OS Integration||Yes||No||No|
|Backup Support||Seamless with Google Drive/iCloud||Manual||Manual|
|E2E||Yes||Yes (In secret chat)||Yes (Including Metadata Encryption)|
Link to download these apps are below:
While security and privacy are key pillars of an instant messaging platform, I feel another aspect is the users who use it. I am totally up for switching to these alternatives from Whatsapp. But will my peers do? FOMO due to switching is going to be a massive barrier in the same. For now, I will stick to Whatsapp with obvious signing up for other two alternatives. What are your thoughts about switching and these Whatsapp Alternatives? Let me know in the comments section below or you can hit me up on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you find this article useful, please consider sharing it on social media using the links below.