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@kousu
Last active Jan 26, 2021
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What would you like to do?

For all of you wanting this feature there's a great option out there if you're willing to step beyond Signal: Conversations. There's no primary/secondary distinction: it does true-multi-device multi-key encryption (they adopted libsignal and built on it and I'm very grateful that OWS developed and released it so it could be built upon), as well as video chat, file attachments (encrypted, of course), and cross-device history syncing, and all that at 1/3rd the size of Signal, and without a dependency on push notifications. And you can pretty easily set up alt identities and use them on the same devices so there's no need to worry about giving out a private number.

You access your account on most devices:

(More apps here and here; these are just my top-picks across all OSes.)

There are lots of places to get an account at. I know can recommend the quality of

And, I find this very cool, the Snikket project is making a one-click personal club-house (think: Slack, Discord, or how IRC used to be/still sometimes is) where everyone on the same server are automatically buddies, but you can still talk to off-server people by opt-in choice. It builds on the apps above to give a smooth mobile/desktop UX.

If you enjoy that Signal merges SMSes and encrypted data messages in one app, that's possible too, in a slightly more roundabout way: you can get a second number from JMP.chat and connect it to your Conversations account, and then all your SMSes to that number show up in the same app; of course, these aren't encrypted, but neither are they in Signal, because SMS just can't support that.

Here's the catches:

  • XMPP is far more anarchic than Signal (ironic, given its alma mater :face_with_raised_eyebrow: ) so compatibility and UX vary.
    • Personally, Dino/Conversations/Profanity are my trifecta of apps
  • Encryption isn't mandatory.
    • But it's enabled by default
  • The server knows more metadata than Signal: it knows your contact list and has logs of whom you're talking to.
    • But each server is a smaller, less valuable target, spreading out the risk.
    • And some servers make a point of being accessible over tor, like https://niel.site or https://creep.im
  • There's no Disappearing Messages. I do miss this one. It might happen someday.
  • Video chat to the desktop only works with Movim so far, which I didn't mention because it doesn't do e2ee yet.
  • You have to use a modern client. Pidgin and Adium and iMessage won't cut it so forget them. Use one of the ones I mentioned above.
  • You have to have a modern homeserver. https://compliance.conversations.im has recs beyond what I gave above.
  • the iOS clients are not nearly as good as the Android and desktop clients; the best current option is Siskin. If you have a lot of Apple people in your contacts this is a pain point for sure.

Overall, with Conversations and its peers, I have secure access to my family, friends and chatrooms no matter what device I'm on, and I'm never worried about being locked out, or upgraded-out, of support.