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Signal vs WhatsApp

With all of the hubbub about WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, a whole bunch of people switched to Signal. As someone who’s been trying to get people to switch to Signal for years (for my own selfish reasons; I’ve wanted to try the app but can’t do so with just myself), I’ve viewed this as a good thing. However, I can’t switch apps wholesale as a lot of people I know still use WhatsApp, plus all of my work chats are there. After using both for sometime, here are a few pros and cons I’ve found with both.

WhatsApp: Feature Bloat

This has been discussed ad nauseum in other places so I’ll try to keep this short. There is just too much going on in WhatsApp. I get where Facebook is coming from on this though as I know a lot of people who manage their lives on WhatsApp.

Signal: Reliability

Signal seems to have issues with messages actually going through. A friend and I had numerous issues with chats and photos. I’m not entirely sure why. Which leads me to the next point.

Signal: Cross-platform consistency

Signal has apps for all the major platforms. However, actually syncing activity between two different platforms is a different story entirely. They have an explanation for why they don’t sync chats on first launch but this doesn’t hold water in my opinion. It is entirely possible to have peer to peer syncing between your own clients and based on their privacy stance, this is something that I would have expected them to build. At this stage though, it is left up to chance as to what messages you see where.

Signal: The “Someone is on Signal” notifications

These are just plain annoying. At the start, Signal tells you about everyone in your contacts who is on the app. I would have expected this to be disabled by default at least.

WhatsApp: Spam

This is probably because there are way more people who use WhatsApp than Signal, but spam is a major issue. I get random messages from people and I have no idea how to prevent this. I don’t want it to be impossible for people outside my contacts to reach me and I’m not sure how you’d get rid of spam without compromising the privacy features of the app. This is a thorny one.

Up until some time ago, I had WhatsApp’s inability to make calls from the desktop on this list, but they have since added this.

This is all that comes to mind right now; I’ll keep adding to this as more things come up or as some of this is fixed.