Signal is removing the option to send and receive text messages in its Android app. People currently using Signal as their default texting app will receive alerts advising them to switch to another app. You will be able to export and import your text messages into another app (as long as the other one supports that option).
Signal said it included SMS support in the first place to make it easier to use – you wouldn’t have to convince friends to start using Signal before you exchange messages with them from within the app. While the move may be uncomfortable for those who have used Signal for most of their messaging, the company spelled out some practical reasons for the change.
The change won’t happen overnight. “You have several months to switch from SMS in Signal, to export your SMS messages to another app, and to let the people you talk to know that they might want to switch to Signal or find another channel if they don’t,” Signal wrote in a blog post.
SMS messages, for example, do not have end-to-end encryption. And given the shifting prices of data and text message plans over the years, it can be more expensive to send a text message than a Signal message these days. “We have repeatedly heard from people who were charged high message fees after thinking the text messages they were sending were Signal messages, only to find out they were using SMS messages and were being charged by their telecom provider,” reads Signal’s blog post. “This is a terrible experience with real consequences.”
The decision was made after a data breach at its verification partner Twillio. Signal said the incident exposed about 1,900 phone numbers and SMS codes of its users. It is unclear whether the call to end SMS support is directly related to the breach.
The third reason Signal gave is that it wants to prevent people in the app from getting confused between SMS and Signal messages. It said differentiating these messages has “serious UX and design implications.” Further, Signal said dropping SMS support frees up resources to work on other projects and features.
- Signal is reportedly removing plain text SMS support in its Android app
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