New text/SMS app: Silence or QKSMS?

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#1

Finally, maybe Signal as default application for text/SMS in /e/ was not the best choice.
The benefit as a SMS application is very limited, and an annoying “feature” is often reported: Signal is requesting number verification.

Therefore, as our /e/ application repository is close to be released and that users who like Signal will be able to install it in two clicks, we’re thinking about having a new default SMS application for /e/ at installation time.

Two open source apps seem to have gained to popularity:
1- Silence https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.smssecure.smssecure/
2- QKSMS https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.moez.QKSMS/

Silence is a quite simple SMS application, that has an interesting, yet limited, extra feature: it can encrypt your SMS messages, after a few steps for exchanging keys between two devices. Very nice, for sure, if you really want to make sure that nobody is “listening on the line” and catching your conversation. Or if you don’t want that telcos store you messages for some time, just “in case of” (this is a legal requirement).

However, this feature is limited by the fact that if Alice is sending an encrypted SMS to Bob, Bob will be able to read it only if he is using Silence as default SMS app as well. Otherwize, he will only see some text garbage.


A secure SMS session using the Silence application.

On the other hand, QKSMS doesn’t offer this encryption option, but is a little more appealing in term of interface and design.


Silence interface vs QKSMS interface.

So should we replace Signal by Silence or by QKSMS as new default SMS application in /e/?

Gaël

PS whatever happens, in V1 users will be able to uninstall this default application and replace by the one of their choice.


#2

Signal was definitely a pain. Very happy to have this removed as a default.
I have been using QKSMS and it is OK, nothing special, appropriate for SMS.
I will try Silence and report back.


#3

I’m using silence on my e-v2 phone and syberiaOS phone. I like it more than QKSMS, because Silence does have the option for encryption.
with silence I’m also able to send ‘normal’ SMS to every other phone. Noone of my friends with standard SMS app has gotten this ‘encrypt message’ you have written.


#4

I’m a Signal user for a very long time. However, I think that signal should not be installed as a default app for SMS. People who want to use encrypted communications know and can easily choose their app.
In my opinion, you need the most basic app for the default SMS application. So, i think QKSMS is a good choice


#6

If it’s easy to change default sms apps, why not stick to signal?

It has clear advantages over the other 2 proposed:

  • encryption
  • backup/restore
  • session locking

I vote to keep signal.


#7

Sure, a secure session needs to be initiated first and normally, an encrypted SMS won’t be sent to someone not using Silence with the appropriate secure session enabled. I wrote this as a shortcut to have everyone understand that Silence cannot “magically” encrypt an SMS message and communicate securely with anyone who can receive a SMS.


#8

It should be taken into account that the default SMS-app ought to be simple to use in order to be a viable app for moms and dads.
The SMS-encryption adds an additional layer of complexity that could be avoided.
So I suggest to use QKSMS.


#9

I think QKSMS would be better for the user experience if it’s open source it’s ok.
Without encyption that’s bad for privacy… Maybe we can choose when we install the OS by showing pros and cons about each and warning users that QKSMS has better interface and everything but no encryption and so you choose if you want a more privacy friendly app.


#10

I totally agree with that. If you want an OS ready to use for the layman, it must be very simple


#11

I think qksms should be used. because /e/ appeals to the end user. A simpler interface, more user-friendly, more modern. You can download anything you want from the F-droid store. There are users who are knowledgeable in the beta process, but there are possible things that can be confused by someone who doesn’t have technical knowledge.


#12

Do both support dual sim in contrast to Signal?


#13

Hi.
The one who can handle Vcards received by mms…
signal and silence doesn’t.
Maybe Qksms ?


#14

I’m quite sure the ‘moms and dads’

  • do not understand privacy issues described in the /e/ project
  • will look to other mobile OSes for ease of use

Let’s be honest, /e/ is a niche product for people (myself included) who are more technically endowed than the average joe, and who actually care

But of course this is only my personal opinion…


#15

I agree with Willie: if it is easy to change, then at least shouldn’t we encourage to go with an app that encourage privacy?

Moreover it isn’t very clear to me what is the problem with the “number request verification” mentioned with Signal (despite being a Signal user myself). Could more information be given on that to better evaluate how “annoying” this feature really is?


#16

Keep QKSMS for its simplicity. As long as people have freedom to install and uninstall the apps of their choice the default apps provided should be for their simplicity. Informed users will anyways find their way-out. To keep the mom and pop out of box experience should be familiarity and simplicity for mass adoption.


#17

By the way, it looks odd when we don’t see any identifier such as /e/ user or /e/ supporter for @gael.


#18

I vote for QKSMS:

  • dual sim support (not declared in Silence)
  • stable version (not for Silence)

For these reasons, the end user who arrives for the first time in /e/ is not “distracted” by functions (too many new things all at once) that are important but less than de-google. One step at a time…


#19

QKSMS is driven by one person, Silence is community driven if I’m right? Doesn’t this make any difference in the future developement of /e/?


#20

I use Silence for some time. There have been problems with recipients, with whom encryption had been established, because they used new phones. where (as I understand it) the data necessary for decryption were not stored on. These people received garbled messages and could not make out, what to do with them. So that encryption feature does in fact cause inconveniences in certain circumstances.


#21

For me choose the more simpliest To achieve the/e/ project in your timeline…

  • For majority of users that are not addict of computer science (geeks) qksms seem the best.
  • For a long term and privacy goal for /e/ project silence seem the best. With a community ?
    By the way silence can also be installed if not the default sms application.