Most of us use WhatsApp to communicate in everyday life with friends, with family and maybe also at work. But there are also safe and better messengers on the market. Today we introduce you to the Signal Offline Messenger.
What is Signal Offline Messenger?
The most important thing right at the beginning: The offline messenger Signal is not the messenger app Signal, which has become known among other things by Elon Musk’s recommendation.
Rather, the signal offline messenger uses direct WLAN between devices for communication and thus bypasses official infrastructures such as radio masts or a WLAN network.
This makes the app officially one of the”off-grid messengers” that promise secure and private communication. Can Signal keep this promise and is the service suitable as a WhatsApp alternative? We took a closer look at Messenger.
How signal offline messenger works
As already mentioned, the signal messenger uses a technology called WiFi Direct (direct Wi-Fi) to establish a direct connection between two smartphones.
Since the connection is exclusively between devices, this is also called peer-to-peer (P2P). To do this, the smartphones must be within a radius of a maximum of 100 meters.
To communicate with another device, Signal searches the immediate environment and then displays available devices near you. You can recognize devices that are currently online as well as offline devices. Logically, however, you can only communicate with the online devices.
Accordingly, communication via Signal Offline Messenger is only possible if two devices are within range and are available at the same time.
Download and Registration
Signal Offline Messenger is currently only available for Android devices. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll need to give it access to your camera, files, microphone, and – somewhat unusually – your device ID and phone number.
Then choose a name (between six and 14 characters). In addition, you can enter a keyword about yourself. Again, there is a character restriction. Finally, you can choose a Messenger color. You can choose from red, pink, green, purple, blue and orange.
At this point, it can be a bit annoying to create the profile, because the messenger only accepts the specified characters and you also have to enter a keyword. In our test, it took a good five minutes for the messenger to accept all the information.
No authentication required
By the way: If you install and delete the app, it will not automatically recognize your old profile when you reinstall it. This will also delete existing contacts and saved chats.
Once you’ve set up a profile, you’re ready to go. A formal registration by code confirmation or registration by e-mail is not required.
You first have the choice to set your status to available or offline. If you’re offline, you won’t be able to receive messages. But others can still see your username.
If you are available, anyone can theoretically write to you without a previous contact request. But luckily, the messenger offers a practical function with which you can also block users.
When you go to “Available” and scroll down the screen, the app searches for other available contacts near you. Once you’ve added someone as a contact, you’ll be able to see them in your contact list.
Voice messages and broadcasting in Signal Offline Messenger
So far, it is not possible to start group chats. You can only share something in broadcast mode. This will land your message on all connected devices in your area.
The app stores your message histories locally on the device.
What makes signal offline messenger so interesting compared to other offline services is the variety of communication. You can not only send text messages and files, but also voice messages. This is not possible with any other offline messenger directly in the app.
Overall, the Signal offline messenger is very simple and intuitive to use. In particular, the option for voice messages is to be praised. In our test, the direct Wi-Fi connection was also very stable, whereby we were in an urban area.
What are offline messengers suitable for?
At first glance, it may not seem obvious why you would ever need an offline messenger like Signal. But there are many practical use cases.
Offline messengers are very helpful if you are in a place with very weak or no radio signal at all. This can be the case, for example, on hikes or at festivals. In such cases, you can still communicate with other people.
There may also be cases where you theoretically have access to a Wi-Fi network, but do not want to use it. This can be the case, for example, with very expensive Wi-Fi on a cruise ship, if you are traveling abroad and want to avoid roaming fees or even if you no longer have credit.
Many people in countries with authoritarian regimes and limited freedom of expression also rely on communication via off-grid messengers in order to escape state control.
Is the Signal Offline Messenger suitable as a WhatsApp alternative?
The Signal Offline Messenger is one of the off-grid services with the most diverse communication options. In particular, the ability to send voice messages stands out compared to similar services.
Nevertheless, the fact that there is the messenger only for Android is a big disadvantage. For this reason alone, Signal is probably not suitable for many as an alternative to WhatsApp.
In addition, there are also certain restrictions on communication. This means that neither voice calls nor video calls are possible.
Thus, the Signal offline messenger can probably not completely replace other online messengers such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Co. But if you are looking for a reliable communication channel for emergencies or off-grid situations, Signal is a good choice.