Default Instant Messaging app in /e/OS: time to remove Telegram and Signal


#1

Since the early days of /e/, there have been some discussions about what should be the default Instant Messaging application preinstalled in the system.

Some people argued for Signal, others for Telegram, others Wire, others for Matrix…

Eventually, I took the decision to have both the two biggest pretenders in the system: Telegram as default IM, and Signal as SMS app, which could also be used for IM.

Unfortunately Signal as an SMS app revealed to be problematic, especially not very user-friendly.

After considering several options, we left Signal as a preinstalled app and added a fork of QKSMS for messages, which seems to please most people (though it is clear that this doesn’t bring any value in term of privacy for text messages).

Now the question remains: should /e/ have a preinstalled default IM application? Signal doesn’t make everyone happy, Telegram doesn’t make everyone happy (though we’re using it a lot for the /e/ project development and support). And none of them are “universal”: you have to choose a network, and you are bound to it, in some way like with a social network. Additionally, speaking of Telegram in particular, it is not clear that they offer a really good level of Privacy: by default E2E encryption is not set, and I see no real reason /e/ should be supporting Telegram.

On the other end, there is a nice IM application called “DeltaChat” that we will propably support in some way. Delta Chat is very interesting for several reasons:

  1. it’s a UNIVERSAL Instant Messaging application. You can initiate a discussion with any user if you know his email address. If the user you are sending a message to has DeltaChat, he will be able to respond directly within the application. Otherwise, he will just receive an email.
  2. DeltaChat doesn’t use a central server: it relies on emails. All DeltaChat mails are stored in a specific IMAP directory.
  3. DeltaChat is using E2E encryption with Autocrypt. Which means that the first two messages to a user will be unencrypted, but if both are using DeltaChat they will soon be encrypted.
  4. It supports group discussions, with encryption.
  5. It is supported as an Android, iOS and web application

In my understanding, the combination of those factors:

  • universal
  • decentralized
  • E2E encrypted

is probably raising the level of privacy very high for DeltaChat, and as it remains a very easy to use application, that’s the kind of apps we want to support at /e/.

Also, though it’s still in beta, DeltaChat is working quite well already. Therefore I’d be pleased to read about your experience with it!

So the plan I see for a near future, which won’t hurt a lot since we now have the App installer application available in /e/OS, would be that:

  • we will remove Telegram as preinstalled application
  • we will remove Signal as preinstlaled application (to those who are using it, be careful to make a backup of your conversations!)
  • we may introduce DeltaChat as new IM application

What do you think?

PS: this is an English speaking forum and discussion. There are language-specific areas at https://community.e.foundation/ - thanks!


pinned #2

#3

This is not an option. It may be a good companion chat in a later future, but we all know that there is a strong need for mainstream apps on smartphones so telegram and signal should stay in the core distribution. A plus is that signal is way more secure than emails and anything else, and telegram is the de facto standard for mainstream apps users that do not wish to sue whatsapp instead.


#4

Hello,

Is there really a need for a pre-installed application? People usually have their habit with certain and will reinstall it on their own anyway.

After necessarily as part of the more global project of learning to use “privatizing” applications, DeltaChat seems to be an interesting idea.

On the principle of secure application and education, there is CaliOpen: https://www.caliopen.org/fr/ which is promising, but the development is very far from allowing integration, especially since I do not believe that the development of the application is in progress.

Anyway,
DeltaChat, why not, on the other hand I wonder about the conversation history in the absence of a central server? Will there be a way to link it all to the /e.cloud/ account (for those who want it) and thus have an automatic backup?

Good luck and thank you for this great job!


#5

Personnally, I use Signal everyday for SMS and IM and I am very happy with it.
I did not get the point of network bound. I am not sure this is a constraint for IM users. I believe Whatsapp might be the leader in IM ans has the same constraint as Signal.
I would say that it is important to make people concern for their privacy ans I believe that FLOSS apps and services close to the most known ones is a good way to make people move from their habits.
Then, I would not recommend to remove Signal from /e/ OS. I do not think that there is a problem in providing several IM apps. I believe a lot of users might use Messenger and Whatsapp for instance.

I do not know DeltaChat, but I will try it.


#6

I have to disagree with @klez.

As there is no clear preference for a single messenger in the community having a couple of them pre-installed leads to a situation where lots of people have apps installed on their devices they don’t want and can’t remove easily.

Due to the positive aspects of delta chat (leaving email Metadata aside, you need a good provider) it would be just one unwanted app in worst case. :wink:

And a future minimal version would contain no IM app at all.

And nobody keeps you from installing the mainstream messengers you want or need from apps. Including whatsapp…


#7

It is stored in your imap/email account. Be it your /e/ account or any other one.

A future minimal version will have no such apps pre-installed as you suggest.


#8

You can just install Signal and keep on using it even when it is removed as a default app :slight_smile:


#9

I would prefer there is not IM preloded in /e/OS at all, just keep the essential : QSMS mail calendar note weather.

More App you integrate in /e/ more energy you have to spend on them to make sure they don’t leak data, users are happy, maintenance and so on… An IM App is not essential for a phone to run.

If a user needs an IM, don’t worry, he/she will find it in the AppStore with a first approach of: level of privacy mentioned in the AppStore.
The other reason for no IM preloded is the weight of /e/OS + if user doesn’t like THIS IM or THAT IM he/she will have to remove it and the IM can be juged as a sort of “Bloatware”.

As you mentioned on the AppStore project to mention “recommended App”, it’s better you make DeltaChat as a “recommended App for /e/” but not preinstall it.


#10

If e will / should be for moms and dads I think deltaChat will be no good idea. It’s very unknow and moms and dads will use whatsapp or telegram/signal.

Put deltaChat in the store and everyone can install it if he want.


#11

I’m 100% with you. no overload of apps


#12

Personally I would prefer a minimum basic set of apps. If a user wants to chat and message then he / she should have those apps available for download in our App Store. W/e/ should not be making the choice for the user.


#13

I agree with you all, given the diversity of IM apps and the curious eterogeneous choice made by us the users, I believe that no IM app preinstalled is way better than perform a choice on behalf of the user. Better stay light on distro furnitures :slight_smile:


#14

I tried Delta Chat a few years ago and I think it is very good. The problems are:

  • It is email, therefore, in theory and often in practice, it is not instant.
  • Privacy features depend on adoption by message recipients.

The second of these points is exactly the same problem we face as getting Silence adopted for SMS, Signal adopted for IM, Telegram, Matrix, etc users to actually use the E2E encryption features. Life is lazy and so the uninitiated will see that they already have an email program and not really see the value in adding another. I wonder if what /e/ should be doing is, rather than including any messaging program, offer a choice during set up (a bit like the old MS Windows browser selector.) Each option would be listed in order of privacy value and come with a brief description of its risks and benefits from a privacy perspective.


#15

I think deltaChat will be no good idea. It’s very unknow and moms and dads will use whatsapp or telegram/signal.

Well, I agree for WhatsApp and Telegram (not Signal), for groups that already exist (like “join our group”). But for user to user chat, Delta is really universal: no need to have others already using it.

Put deltaChat in the store and everyone can install it if he want.

It’s already there :wink:


#16

My suggestion is: All IM should be removed from /e/ Os. Let the user choose what he want and download it. Since we now have App Store.


#17

Even if the risk of losing my conversations does not make me happy, I was essentially saying that imho it might be better to provide several default FLOSS IM apps so that moms and dads could be aware of these and make their choice after.
But this is just my opinion.


#18

I tend to agree with the “we should not be doing choices for the users” and the minimal approach.
However if you follow this logic, /e/OS shouldn’t even ship an email client or a web browser. And also our mission is to support and bring to people the best usable tools for better data privacy.

Furthermore, as I wrote earlier I want to remind that:

  • our ultimate goal is to provide a way that default (preinstalled) applications can be uninstalled (complex to implement though, so will take time)
  • in the meantime we will introduce some /e/ builds with a minimal set of apps (in addition to the regular build)

#19

I think you should not preinstall any, most users can easily install their favourite IM by themselfs, some users not using any IM apps, and when i fresh install /e/ and use afwall+ as firewall there are huge number of internet connections from Signal and even couple times biger for Telegram, even if im not using them or even register, and i dont really like it.

Well, i think that browser its needed for every user, even for downloading F-droid client, or their favourite browser. Sorry for bad English. hope you understand what i mean. Thank you!


#20

So do I. Pre-install the essential and let the user choose to install the messaging application he wants in the /e/ store