TextSecure: a privacy-oriented, text messaging client (App review)

There is a vast selection of text messengers on Google Play. However, not all of them are as privacy-oriented as the one for today’s review. TextSecure is able to encrypt messages, so long as each person involved in the conversation uses the client.

For those of you who already have a text messenger, switching to another one could be a tall order, I understand. That’s especially true when you and the other person need to use TextSecure in order to get the full benefits. For now, let’s examine the app and see if it is worth your consideration.

Setup

Setup is quick and simple. Head over to Google Play and download and install the app.

When you open TextSecure, it will ask for you for your phone number, so that it can be registered for an identity key. This will send an SMS to your device for confirmation.

Functions and Features

At first glance, TextSecure behaves like other text messengers.

You can start a new conversation by clicking the icon at the bottom right.TextSecure's main screen

Speaking of conversations, you’ll easily know that your connection to another person is encrypted when a lock icon appears underneath both your messages.

A conversation thread in TextSecure

Click the lock at the top right in order to view everyone’s identity keys or to end the secure session. The lock indicates you are messaging someone who is using the app, by the way.

From the main screen, use the search button at the top right to look up existing conversations of your contacts.

Located next to this is a menu icon. Within it, you can create a group chat, mark all conversations as read, import and export conversations, view your identity key, and go to settings.

There are settings for SMS and MMS, notifications, privacy, appearance, deleting old messages, and advanced settings.

TextSecure's settings window

Most of these are quite standard, like WiFi calling compatibility mode, a selection of visual and auditory notifications, and a light and a dark theme.

One of the most noteworthy features of TextSecure is the privacy settings.

You can create a password for messages, which can be changed at anytime. Set a time interval if you don’t want to enter in your password each time you bring the app to the foreground.

The privacy settings in TextSecure

Interestingly, screenshots can be blocked in the app, as well.

Lastly, under advanced, you will find an option called “TextSecure messages.” Enabling this option allows for free private messaging to TextSecure and Signal (the iOS counterpart) users.

What we liked

  • Simple, modern design
  • The ability to change the accent color for contacts
  • Using a passphrase to lock the app
  • Optional, secure text sessions for TextSecure users
  • Optional, private (group) IMs for TextSecure users
  • Choice between a light theme and a dark theme

What we don’t like

  • Nothing

Depending on what you want from a text messenger, TextSecure may not be the best. By that, I mean it does not have the most extensive customization, for example. You won’t be able to make an image the background of a thread or change the fonts of each individual thread. Although you can change the accent color of each conversation, I’d consider other options should you want customization.

On the other hand, TextSecure caters to a privacy-oriented niche, one which it does really well. Users who prefer this may also like the fact that it is open source. Sure, you and your friends and family will need to switch in order take advantage of its features, and for a lot of people, that’s not worth it. However, if you want an option to keep your texts encrypted, TextSecure is one of a few, great options at the moment.

[pb-app-box pname=’org.thoughtcrime.securesms’ name=’TextSecure Private Messenger’ theme=’discover’ lang=’en’]

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