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Instant messaging (Whatsapp) alternatives to use on Jolla

asked 2014-02-20 19:50:24 +0200

tokaru gravatar image

updated 2015-08-27 13:16:44 +0200

EDIT: I noticed that this one is still being upvoted, so: please note that this collection is probably fairly outdated - at some point I stopped following up on the development of all the IM apps. If anyone feels inspired to update the information in here, you are very welcome :) /EDIT


I love Mitäkuuluu, but I never trusted the company that ran the server side part of Whatsapp. And I trust it even less now.

So... I am looking for alternatives (sorry coderus). If you consider Android apps, there is a handful of alternatives being talked about currently. However, I do not know whether those will work on my Jolla phone. Do you have any experiences to share about using IM apps like

on Jolla?

I really would love to try them, but it is not so easy: (a) I would need to convince friends to give them a try too (you probably know how hard this can be) and (b) not all of the apps are free, and even though I will happily pay for an app that works as desired, I don't want to spend money for something that maybe does not work at all.

E.g. Threema is said to work on Jolla and they sell the APK directly, but if I understand correctly it is restricted to polling, having a fixed interval of 15 minutes - which makes it pretty much useless for instant messaging. Obviously I did not understand this correctly - new messages appear pretty instant, see my test results below.

I assume that other apps might have similar issues...

If you have tried any of these or have other suggestions, I would love to hear your experiences... thanks a lot :)

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66

Whatever you do, avoid centralized services, like whatsapp, but also Telegram and perhaps others of your list. Internet was designed to be decentralized, and services like e-mail, xmpp/jabber, bitcoin, bittorrent, etc show that decentralized systems are much more robust and resistant against influence of a single entity - or even a group of entities.

A good decentralized service must provide the possibility to run your own server within the network, if you want to. E-mail still is an excellent example.

Fuzzillogic ( 2014-02-20 20:35:50 +0200 )edit
7

threema app for jolla would be nice

krayne ( 2014-02-20 20:42:22 +0200 )edit
2

I know it falls under same mistrust as any centralized messaging, but the system called LINE is simple to use and offers free audio/video calls too.

Acce ( 2014-02-20 20:44:05 +0200 )edit
4

yes. i advice to use xmpp and even facebook! you'll that whatsapp is not needed. i also faced before that whatsapp is needed. but jolla realised the accounts (facebook, xmpp) so brillantly - whatsaoo and similar messengers are not needed!

Fedorka ( 2014-02-20 20:46:19 +0200 )edit

@Fuzzillogic I'd love to do so, but of course my less technically inclined friends should be able to use it (convenently) too, decentralized services often are not designed for the masses, unfortunately. It is not only the "instant" why people prefer other services over email.... @krayne yes, definitely (still centralized, though)

tokaru ( 2014-02-20 20:48:35 +0200 )edit

23 Answers

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79

answered 2014-02-21 01:23:30 +0200

chemist gravatar image

updated 2014-02-26 23:41:26 +0200

xmpp, integrated in the jolla-messaging but the gabble plugin (xmpp for telepathy) and telepathy need some developer love! Android wise I would not touch other things than xmpp, like chatsecure or xabber client wise.

Also go here https://together.jolla.com/question/25328/feature-request-alternative-messenger-integration-for-jolla/ - kinda duplicate.

We started a MUC (MultiUserChat) at jolla@conference.jabber.org to show jolla that we care about XMPP! The more join the more we show the need of proper XMPP implementation on Jolla which you may not use for this service yet (reads: you need to use another client to join us.

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21

I would also prefer XMPP for two reasons. It's an international standard so it isn't owned by a company. And it's already available in my Jolla. ...yours too. A simple multiuser chat (MUC) app would make the setup complete, imho.

vattuvarg ( 2014-02-21 12:21:13 +0200 )edit
6

I like the concept of XMPP, but the fact that you need to exchange IDs with contacts you already have will make it hard to get non-technies to use it. People got used to all-comfortable apps for communication, apps that "just work" :-/ Kontalk seems to use the XMPP protocol while having a user interface similar to Whatsapp... maybe they find the right compromise, I hope to be able to test it on the weekend, will report... BTW: Thanks for the link, but I do not think this is a duplicate. This is not about what people would like to use on their phone in a few months, but rather alternatives users can switch to now....

tokaru ( 2014-02-21 13:28:25 +0200 )edit

IM apps that just work seem to be riddled with unexpected surprises according to recent news. Jumping from one of those to another will not make any difference. If you think exchanging IDs is too much work then feel free to remain in the caring arms of US corporations. What could possibly go wrong? ...but still... It would be interesting to see what Wietse Venema would do with the reference server.

vattuvarg ( 2014-02-21 15:40:11 +0200 )edit
1

Just thinking there's something between black and white, no? I am new to XMPP and just tried it today, and I do not know whether it is XMPP or Jolla's implementation of it, but I am not sure whether I know how to use it now, also I do not know whether I know anybody using it already (so I cannot test) - seems like I need to ask in a social network or take the time to ask everyone personally to find out. I do not even know where I should store a contact's XMPP ID on my Jolla... Don't get me wrong, I like trying new technologies, and I don't mind exchanging public keys for encryption etc. But I would not recommend that to my girl friend. And I do not need a messenger that 95% of my friends would not want to use.... I do not want to go off into bashing mode here, I just think that doing something primarily based on telephone numbers instead of IDs can still be secure, don't you think?

tokaru ( 2014-02-21 16:26:16 +0200 )edit
1

Peer pressure is the reason why Facebook bids for WhatsApp. "Everyone else is using it." By the way, Facebook and WhatsApp both use xmpp for messaging and so does Google. ...and others.

vattuvarg ( 2014-02-21 16:37:13 +0200 )edit
42

answered 2014-02-25 01:17:51 +0200

tad gravatar image

updated 2014-03-17 23:39:25 +0200

TextSecure just received IP-based messaging support (up until the last release only encrypted SMS could be sent).

See https://whispersystems.org/blog/the-new-textsecure/ for the announcement.

I definitely regard it as an asynchronous complementation to synchronous messaging with XMPP/OTR.

Pros:

Cons:


EDIT:

related questions:


EDIT 2:

I managed to use TextSecure by first installing GooglePlay (for a description how to do this, you can check here for example: https://together.jolla.com/question/30926/howto-install-google-play/ ) with the additional step of installing Google Play services (as described here at step 9: http://jollafin.blogspot.fi/2013/11/play-store-for-jolla.html ).

Andoid Apps cannot access the SMS of SailfishOS, so obviously the SMS code verification fails. Just let it time out and you will get an option to get a phone call with a verification code. Choose it and you will get called with a machine voice telling you the verification code. Enter it into TextSecure and you're good to go.

Hint: Completely disable usage of SMS in the settings, otherwise you will get encrypted SMS that TextSecure can't access. Only push messages will work.

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Oh, very nice - I've been using it on Android but of course very few people wanted to communicate via SMS... but there is currently no chance of running the Android app on Saiflish/Jolla, or is there?

tokaru ( 2014-02-25 11:50:16 +0200 )edit

I didn't try it out yet, as you need to get it from Play Store at the moment (and I didn't enable it on my Jolla). Well, one could also get it from 1Mobile, but they still have the old release there (without IP-based messaging).

tad ( 2014-02-25 12:05:08 +0200 )edit

Maybe I'll find some time this evening to download the app on my tablet and transfer it to my Jolla. I'll report back.

tokaru ( 2014-02-25 12:19:44 +0200 )edit

has anyone who installed the palystore tried installing the official release of textsecure? or has anyone tried building their own package form source? it would be cool if we got it working on Jolla

shfit ( 2014-02-25 20:16:10 +0200 )edit

Unfortunately the app isn't compatible with my tablet, and obviously Whispersystems is reluctant to publish the APK file :-/

tokaru ( 2014-02-25 20:25:22 +0200 )edit
20

answered 2014-02-28 22:48:46 +0200

dsilveira gravatar image

updated 2014-02-28 22:49:59 +0200

Tox.im seems the most promissing to me, with it being:

  • fully open-source,
  • with proper encryption,
  • p2p DHT-based,
  • with text, voice and video chatting,
  • with clients for Windows, Linux, and OSX

Cons:

  • lacking Android and IOS clients, but with the core being a separated library, it should not be very hard to port
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Also not stable yet and it's still leaking meta data. Will be interesting how it will develop though.

slaveriq ( 2014-03-01 01:17:32 +0200 )edit
1

Also it is not optimal for mobile due to large data usage.

peerchemist ( 2014-12-03 14:42:40 +0200 )edit
1

Well in fact there are clients for Android and IOS. :) I'm using antox since some time now and is working great on Jolla. For IOS antidote.

tvicol ( 2014-12-03 16:15:43 +0200 )edit

@tvicol indeed, but antox is no longer maintained..

mlatu ( 2014-12-04 12:06:45 +0200 )edit
1

@mlatuhttps://github.com/Astonex/Antox this looks to me like an active developed application

tvicol ( 2014-12-04 12:23:03 +0200 )edit
18

answered 2014-02-24 12:50:22 +0200

slaveriq gravatar image

updated 2014-02-24 14:56:29 +0200

I think Telegram seems interesting. It seems also to have gotten some adaption. When whatsapp was down they where having 100signups/second. (according to heise.de)

Pros:

  • Open API/Protocol (so we can make an app and not get sued)
  • The protocol was made with mobile in mind. So it supports push.(saves battery life)
  • End to end encryption
  • Uses http with an open protocol on top. So one could write an own private server.
  • Already has apps for Android/iOS and even windows phone.
  • The project wants to open source everything according to the FAQ

Cons:

  • No source code for an private server.
  • centralized architecture. (no federation in between servers)

I haven't tried it myself though, so can't say how it's performing.

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2

Pro:

  • Free (as in beer) - however raising the question how they make money from this service, so there's probably a hidden con in here :(
  • multi-device compatible

Con:

  • Owned by founder of major russian social network "VK", don't know him but might be just another Zuck ;-)
  • Not company or contact information to be found on website, not even an email address

The facts on their website sound great, but for me it is difficult to put trust in this.

tokaru ( 2014-02-24 13:02:52 +0200 )edit
2

I think the fact that they use open crypto and invite researchers to break it says a lot. As long as the end to end crypto is safe.

slaveriq ( 2014-02-24 13:06:59 +0200 )edit
2

It isn't owned by the founder of a major russian social network, the brother of the owner of that major russian social network started telegram. Furthermore they are based in germany, not in russia.

StanceVonKofsky ( 2014-02-24 17:15:19 +0200 )edit
2

@StanceVonKofsky I'd love to cite official information from their website, but unfortunately they don't provide any. I referred to a Wikipedia article) which cites a Techcrunch article. There's only a tweet stating the the HQ is in Berlin, I could not find out their address though. If the company actually resides in Germany, they should rather put up something like a proper Impressum soon. By the way, the domain is registered to "Domains By Proxy, LLC", Arizona, USA. So... how could I ever trust these guys?

tokaru ( 2014-02-24 18:36:38 +0200 )edit
2
12

answered 2014-02-24 15:12:14 +0200

Strahlex gravatar image

You can use IRC. The IRC Client for Sailfish works very good.

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Indeed. The available Client in the Jolla store is just excellent for a mobile device!

Venty ( 2014-02-25 13:22:12 +0200 )edit

@Strahlex Completely agree , By the way on my first few days with Jolla phone , I was able to have a flamewar and even successfully defend it. Thats the beauty of the UI. You can add the awesome LED notifications on mentions , just too good :)

pavi ( 2015-01-04 04:59:34 +0200 )edit
11

answered 2014-02-23 18:35:56 +0200

tokaru gravatar image

updated 2014-02-28 11:09:15 +0200

I've been trying Threema this weekend, together with a (non-technie) friend using Android.

The app works fine most of the time (see edit below) and actually is as easy to use as WhatsApp. Non-technies might be a little confused at first by the (optional) security features though, like verifying a contact by scanning a barcode from his phone.

The only drawback on Jolla is that there are no push notifications. The phone receives messages when running in a cover and also updates the cover view (of course you cannot read messages in there), but you do not get any kind of notification - you need to actively check by opening the app. When the app is open, new messages are received almost instantly (few seconds max), so I am not sure what they refer to as "polling interval is fixed at 15 minutes" on their shop page - for me this works almost in real-time.

You can buy the application APK file directly from their website.

Gerenal pros & cons (IMHO)

Pro

  • end to end encryption
  • company and servers in Switzerland not in the US

Contra

  • closed source
  • centralized

Updated EDIT: I had reported in this place about the phone rebooting sometimes when invoking the barcode scanner or contacts sync in Threema. By now I think that the phone was having other problems and Threema was rather a victim. Once my Jolla was reluctant to reboot, but after taking out the battery everything worked fine again and I did not have any issues with Threema since then. I have also uninstalled KillDroid, since I haven't been using it anyway, maybe that was related.

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3

Since when is a company in Switzerland a Pro condition?

chemist ( 2014-02-24 15:29:22 +0200 )edit
2

it is a pro in my opinion, compared to USA or Russia - but basically you are right, I have re-phrased it

tokaru ( 2014-02-24 16:34:45 +0200 )edit
2

I can confirm that the servers are located in a nice swiss datacenter (next to mine). I quite like using Threema, but the lack of integration into Jolla makes it not usable for a daily basis (no contact sync, notifications missing, App needs to be open all the time), that's too bad. A native Threema app would be really nice... The encrpytion idea and implementation seems to be rock-solid

tobru ( 2014-02-25 11:20:20 +0200 )edit

@tobru contact sync on Threema works fine for me but sometimes must be triggered manually, due to Android bug .... just consult "Why does the synchronisation not work anymore after rebooting my phone?" in Threema FAQ .... correct, Threema servers are definitely in Switzerland, seen them personally ;) !!

Manankanchu ( 2014-02-25 12:01:57 +0200 )edit

@tobru synchronizing contacts works fine for me, as long as the person on the other side has linked their mobile number to their Threema account. A native app would be great, yes - but this is not feasible without a public API :( here's the request for / discussion about a native Threema app.

tokaru ( 2014-02-25 12:03:34 +0200 )edit
6

answered 2014-03-02 12:21:23 +0200

youhana gravatar image

Just keep developing the 'message' app. More accounts to sync, facebook group chats, multimedia etc. It's a perfect platform already.

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4

answered 2014-02-23 18:41:27 +0200

tokaru gravatar image

I've also been trying Kontalk this weekend, together with the same (non-technie) friend using Android.

Unfortunalty, we did not get very far :( Installation and account creation (verification code sent by SMS) worked fine, and the user interface seemed by be pretty much like WhatsApp; but when we tried to find each other by sychronizing our contact list, there was simply nothing found, on both of our phones. I am not sure whether this is a general problem or Alien Dalvik related. But since there is no possibility to add a contact manually, this was a definite show stopper.

That's sad, because the Kontalk project has three major pros on the list

  • end to end encryption
  • open source
  • decentralized

I hope it will work sometime in the future, but for now it is not an option for me.

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2

Have you people looked into TOX.IM?

Coderus is helping developing.

BonoNL ( 2014-02-25 22:57:07 +0200 )edit

Thanks, did not know about this one... interesting project. Seems to be in a very early stage of development, though.

tokaru ( 2014-02-25 23:25:47 +0200 )edit

Tried this with a friend both having Kontalk on Jollas. Exactly same result as you: could not add each other as contacts. If anyone gets this to work, please report here.

J24 ( 2015-03-22 01:58:59 +0200 )edit
4

answered 2014-02-27 21:23:23 +0200

paw gravatar image

I tried the following 3 Android apps on my own:

  1. surespot
  2. ChatSecure
  3. TextSecure

I primarily used surespot, but on my opinion it seems the best option of all three. I must admit that I agree with the analysis of

https://missingm.co/2014/02/fighting-dishfire-the-state-of-mobile-cross-platform-encrypted-messaging/

But here a small summary:

surespot

This apps looks pretty well and it can be installed without play store, for example at apps.goodreader.com. I could install and use surespot without any problems.
Pros:

  • uses ID and not your phone number. this way you stay anonymous.
  • Open source
  • Send and receive images and emoticons.

Cons:

  • No group chat
  • App must stay open all the time. No notifications if new message is received.
  • Qr invitation and email invitation did not work, even on android and iOs.
  • You cannot verify your contacts. Or at least I couldn't figure out how.

ChatSecure

Installation is easy here, because you can install within the f-droid shop, which works pretty well on sailfish. It seems a decent XMPP client that supports OTR. It didn't use it very much, but i could connect to my jabber account and my contacts were displayed. I could not test OTR or chat so far. However XMPP is not used by most of my contacts, therefore this is not the best option for me.

TextSecure

I had to build and sign the APK on my own, which is in the end not that complicated. If someone is interested what I did, I will add a small step by step instruction. By the way, without signing the APK you can install the app, but it will close shortly after starting it. After signing the APK it did work, besides that I could not authorize via SMS. I got an error message that my Android version does not support this and that this problem could be solved with the help of Google Play. Unfortunatelly this is no option for me. In the end my contacts could be accessed (without names) but I could net send any message, even to a friend that uses TextSecure on Android. Therefore I can only say, it looks nice but does not work on sailfish, at least without Google Play. Maybe someone who uses Google Play can try this app and give us a report.

I think I gonna try Threema, but unwanted reboot doesn't sound that good.

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Great, thanks for the detailed explanations :) Regarding Threema: I haven't had these problems for some time now and think that this was another issue, not caused by Threema - I have updated my answer above

tokaru ( 2014-02-28 11:12:13 +0200 )edit

i have been using threema for a week without any problems. i installed the barcode scanner from Fdroid for ofline key confirmation and that works also. thanks for the detailed tests!

shfit ( 2014-02-28 11:24:22 +0200 )edit
2

answered 2014-02-26 22:39:22 +0200

Xeno_PL gravatar image

Instant Messaging and privacy are quite a hot to[pic these days. For anybody interested this article:

https://missingm.co/2014/02/fighting-dishfire-the-state-of-mobile-cross-platform-encrypted-messaging/

pretty much sums it up

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Imo it doesn't. Tox.im for example is missing, and he's largely missing the point of decentralization, which is imo absolutely paramount. He even mentions Google's practices concerning XMPP. Doesn't that make it yet again clear you do not want to be dependent on a single entity for... well... just about anything in IT?

Also, I find it troubling to see the problems iOS is giving. It should be made much more clear it's the tight grip of Apple and designed limitations of iOS which makes it so hard to make a normal, TCP-connected client on iOS.

Fuzzillogic ( 2014-02-26 23:32:03 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2014-02-20 19:50:24 +0200

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Last updated: Aug 27 '15