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WhatsApp Alternatives: Should You Be Using WhatsApp In 2021?

Kate William

9 min read

On December 31st 2020, WhatsApp celebrated a milestone of 1.4 billion video and audio calls, but after its ‘my way or the highway’ clause, things seemed to have hit a roadblock for them. Recently, WhatsApp has gained notoriety recently after it changed its privacy policy. This has been a blessing in disguise for WhatsApp alternatives though. When Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $16 billion in 2014, all of us toasted to it. That was before Facebook became the corporate boss that lorded over our data, spread fake information, and manipulated elections.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy forces users to accept the changes or lose access to the platform. WhatsApp will remain a free app, but the change in policy means that you will have to allow them to collect personal data and share it with Facebook and Instagram. So we just thought of listing down the top WhatsApp alternatives you should be checking in 2021… 

What are people actually looking for in WhatsApp Alternatives?

One of the most important features that people are looking for is encryption. Encryption converts data into a format that is not possible to read called ciphertext. The ciphertext is decrypted and converted into its original form, called plaintext. Apart from this, people are also looking for all of the cool features that WhatsApp provides. Imagine shifting to a new application only to realize that they don’t offer video calls. Stifling, right?

Top WhatsApp Alternatives

Here are the top WhatsApp alternatives that can be the Robin(Privacy) to your Batman(Data).

#1. Signal app

Without a doubt, the Signal app is the most popular and of course, trending one on this list. They do not collect any user information for privacy lovers and offer end-to-end encryption, just like WhatsApp . Even the mobile number that it asks while joining is not linked to your profile. Your phone number is only like a username for Signal app. 

The phone number uses a private key which is used for account registration and not to track our whereabouts and activities. Not to forget that the Signal app has been vouched for its data security by Elon Musk, Edward Snowden, and many other tech luminaries. After WhatsApp updated its privacy policy, Elon Musk famously tweeted “Use Signal” on his Twitter handle. 

Features of the Signal app:

You can do one-on-one chats, video and audio calls, create groups, send messages that can disappear, create a privacy lock which will keep your personal messages away from others. The interface of the Signal app is also attractive to an everyday user. Signal is also open-source, which makes it much safer than WhatsApp . 

The Signal app allows for chat backup only on Android devices, and that too in the device. It presents a truly secure messaging environment and is without a doubt, it is the most popular among all WhatsApp alternatives. 

#2. Telegram

Another popular WhatsApp alternative is Telegram, which has more than 500 million users already. When people were leaving WhatsApp because of the privacy concerns, there were at least 2.2 million users that added themselves Telegram. It’s a cloud-based messenger service which seamlessly syncs across all devices. 

Telegram has two layers of secure encryption. The server-client encryption is specifically used in private and group chats, while its secret chats use an additional layer of client-client encryption. All the data that is available on Telegram, no matter what format it is, text, media or files, is encrypted in the same way. 

This UK-based WhatsApp alternative has a bunch of extra features that is not available in other platforms. Its UI is also extremely simple, and since it has an open API, it was a popular WhatsApp alternative even before the privacy policy became an issue. In Telegram, you can even share media files up to 2 GB (we know you’re sharing and downloading movies on it already 😀 ). Inside the Telegram messenger, you can even add bots and play games which makes it an interesting WhatsApp alternative. 

#3. Viber

Also popularly known as Rakuten Viber, the Japan-based VOIP messaging app is also considered as a viable WhatsApp alternative. The messages, calls, and even shared media on the platform is end-to-end encrypted. You can have video calls with up to 20 users and create groups with as much as 250 users. 

Viber supports GIF and stickers too, you can either import them or make your own stickers. One of the best features about Viber is that it allows for international calling at cheap rates. It even has a community feature where you can socialize and comment on the posts. Video-conferencing is possible with Viber, but this WhatsApp alternative is loaded with advertisements and the user interface isn’t the friendliest. 

#4. Session

“Session never knows who you are, who you’re talking to, or the contents of your messages.”

This is the first line in Session’s privacy policy. It focuses on reducing your sensitive metadata, making it one of the best WhatsApp alternatives that one can think of. It doesn’t store any user information, like IP address, phone number, email ID, or any other information that can remotely tie the person to it. 

You can do everything from group calls, send attachments, voice notes, etc. This WhatsApp alternative even offers you a beautiful dark mode. 

#5. Threema

This WhatsApp -alternative encrypts all the data on it, starting from texts, shared files, even status updates. By not asking for your email address or phone number, it offers a great level of anonymity. Threema doesn’t believe in tracking or profiling users, so it does not log IP addresses or metadata. All you need to do is pay a monthly fee to access the app. If you are looking for security, Threema is one of the best WhatsApp -alternatives in the market. 

It syncs your contact list, so that makes it easy to find other Threema users. Your chat history and everything inside the app is protected forever. 

#6. Skype

Owned by Microsoft, Skype is one of the most popular communication platforms on Earth. It has been extensively used by businesses and individuals alike. With Skype, you do not have to worry about a pixelated or distorted video feed when you are doing a HD video call on the platform. It is so powerful that you can do a video call with a total of 50 members in attendance, in HD, without any glitches. 

You can meet new people, search people by username, email address, or even phone number to make new connections. On Skype, you can add your status as ‘Busy’ or ‘Available’ based on which you can inform others whether to contact you or not. Even those who are not on Skype can connect with you using a pay-as-you-go method. 

#7. iMessage

IMessage should already be a familiar one for those with iPhones since it is exclusively an Apple app. It is one of the best WhatsApp alternatives, especially in the privacy scenario because Apple is careful about safeguarding its customers’ data. iMessage supports end-to-end encryption to protect the privacy of its users. 

iMessage is a simple app that is minimalistic in nature. Since it merges SMS, you can access all of it in a single place. Since Apple encrypts iMessage on the device, even it cannot read the messages. The only way for someone else to read your messages is if someone has access to an unlocked Apple device that participated in the chat or has access to the device’s passcode or biometric login. 

#8. Wickr Me

AES 256, ECDH521, and RSA 4096, with Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS)- These are the encryption algorithms using which Wickr Me offers end-to-end encryption on its platform. The messaging platform even lets you create anonymous accounts, send disappearing messages, disappearing attachments, etc. After the disappearing message expires, all the user content is wiped from the device. 

It is possible to maintain anonymity on the platform because it does not log IP addresses, unique device ID, or record user metadata. Since these are anonymous accounts that do not have any identifiable information, only the ones with the credentials will be able to log on to the app. Even if someone links their phone number to Wickr Me, even that data is encrypted and cannot even be read by the company, making it a worthy WhatsApp-alternative. 

#9. Wire

It is a collaboration suite with secure messaging, file-sharing, group chat capabilities, etc. It is an open-source platform and is a good WhatsApp alternative since it is completely free to use and provides end-to-end encryption. While Wire does collect some data, certainly not to the extent that WhatsApp collects. You can even register with a temporary email address. As of now, Wire doesn’t have a huge user base. The Switzerland-based company is independently audited and the results are even made public. 

#10. Kik

It is an instant messaging software that has been in the market for quite sometime now. All it requires is your email to become a member of the platform. It doesn’t ask for your phone number and stores your chats in the phone itself. The downside to it is that if you switch your phones, your chat logs are lost forever. Kik is also a WhatsApp alternative as it is one of the most secure and private apps in the market. 

For those who want to stay anonymous, Kik is one of the best messaging platforms out there. No one can access historical data such as your shared media and conversations. Kik is highly popular among millenials and has 240 million plus users although it has been severely criticized for acting as a platform for many illegal activities. 

#11. Element

It was also known as Riot or Vector, and is considered as one of the most secure instant messaging apps on Earth. Let us tell you why- 1. It offers end-to-end encryption, 2. Offers decentralized storage and you get to choose a server to host your messages where you can either pick a free server, host it on your own server or pay for one. 

Element offers all the features that WhatsApp does, including read receipts, file sharing, control over notifications, audio calling, video calling, etc. If you don’t want to use the Element app, you can even run it directly on the web browser. To register, you do not have to give out any identifiable information such as email ID, phone number. It means that you can also set up anonymous accounts on Element. 

When you sign up on Element, you will get a secret key which you will need every time you log into new devices. Make sure that you don’t lose it. One more interesting thing to note is that you can integrate other platforms like SMS, Facebook, Skype, Google, etc., to have a smooth experience. But if you are looking to remain anonymous, then it would be wise not to integrate any of these platforms to Element. 

#12. Riot.IM

The open-source software uses end-to-end encryption for messages. It supports VoIP as well as video calling and every user receives a unique ID instead of a phone number. Riot.IM has its own bots, and they encourage developers to create their own bots. It even offers private rooms which you can visit with a link that is specifically created for this purpose. Users can visit any public chat room and has conversation rooms. 

The desktop client has a clean and friendly interface, and is even available in seven languages. 

Here are some questions about WhatsApp that we’ve answered:

1. Is WhatsApp open source?

No, that’s the exact reason why many of its customers are looking for alternatives which are more secure and safe, not to forget, that they are looking for an app that is respectful of their data. 

2. Why should you try WhatsApp alternatives?

Thanks to its new privacy policy, WhatsApp has ensured that there are a bunch of issues with its security. Facebook has not had a great reputation already with respect to user data, privacy and whatnot. 

3. Which are the WhatsApp alternatives that we should avoid?

There are obviously other WhatsApp alternatives which don’t live up to greater standards. 

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Yahoo Messenger 
  • WeChat

You might want to avoid these apps as well since they capture a lot of identifiable information. 

4. What will happen on February 8, 2021?

For those who live in the European Union or United Kingdom, the changes in privacy policy do not apply. If you live anywhere else in the world, then these things apply. 

According to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, WhatsApp will share all the data with Facebook. Some of these include user ID, device ID, phone number, email ID, contacts, payment information, advertising data, and more. Facebook will use this data for its own benefits and might even sell them to 3rd party marketers for their gain. 

If you do not agree to having your data being shared with Facebook, then honestly, feel free to leave the platform. But then, you can’t sit around expecting applications to improve your lives without collecting your data. That’s a call you’ve got to make. 

Planning to leave WhatsApp for good?

We are hoping that the list of WhatsApp alternatives helped you in allaying any confusion you had. If we were to suggest a messaging platform that you could shift to, then Signal app is the one that we will go with. Telegram is also one WhatsApp alternative that you can choose, but if you are specifically looking for doing video chats as well, then the Signal app is your go-to one. 

You will be able to use all the features exhaustively just with its free app. You can react with animated emojis, send stickers and create groups of up to 200,000 people! With the Signal app, you can be safely assured that your data is protected and no one is prying on it. 

Is Signal App safer than WhatsApp?

While both Signal and WhatsApp use strong end-to-end encryption techniques, the problem is that WhatsApp will be sharing your data to Facebook. With this data, you can be tracked as long as you are alive. With Signal, there is no question about your data being shared with other entities. Since it is open source, Signal’s code has been extensively reviewed by a lot of technologists. In the Signal vs WhatsApp race, Signal is the clear winner because you cannot afford to hand over your private data to FB. 

Our Verdict. 

If you are concerned about your privacy, then it is time to ditch WhatsApp , unless they clearly backtrack on their new privacy policy. Otherwise, continuing to use WhatsApp is harmful for you. Thankfully, WhatsApp is not the only communication platform available, there are many more that you can choose from. We have listed some of the most popular WhatsApp alternatives, and in other words, it is also considered a WhatsApp vs Signal debate because the majority of the users have taken a liking to Signal. 

And yeah, talking about protection of data and valuing privacy, don’t know how we missed out to introduce our survey software, SurveySparrow. Create highly engaging online surveys, customer feedback surveys, employee engagement surveys and much more using this online survey tool to get better response rates.

February 8, 2021 is the date until you have time to decide. If you are still not convinced about shifting, you might want to try by using a few other platforms, start messaging your friends there and see how it works for you. There are hardly two weeks before your data will be out for marketers to use. 

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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  • Tanishka Shanghvis

    How much useful information you have gathered here! And yet, I don’t understand why the Utopia p2p https://utopia-ecosystem.com/ app was not included in the list? In my opinion, it is also a worthy alternative, which is also an all-in-one tool and guarantees complete anonymity and security of personal data for users. Plus, it’s completely free. And this is one of the significant advantages.

  • All the alternatives are good, but I preferred Signal and Telegram for WhatsApp alternative.

  • Somendu Paul

    Whatsapp and its alternatives are good. But they are used for social and casual interactions only. But for business video calls, businesses and companies use Google Meet, Zoom, R-HUB HD video conferencing servers, Webex etc.

  • Pranav K S

    Wonderful post

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