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Signal, the increasingly popular encrypted communications app, has added video calling to its already impressive list of abilities. This means you can now make an encrypted video call from your smartphone without worrying about who is listening in. Or at least that’s the promise.
While many chat apps are now committed to protecting your privacy, Signal has made privacy its USP. This has helped Signal steadily grow in popularity. It’s especially favored by politicians, journalists, and activists who cannot take any chances when it comes to secure communications.
Encrypted Video Calls and Better Voice Calls
The video calling capability is currently available as a public beta. To try it out, once your Signal app has updated, go to Settings > Advanced > Video calling beta. You can then initiate encrypted video calls with any users who have also joined the beta.
Signal has also made improvements to its voice calls. However, in order to do this specifically on iOS, Signal is using something called CallKit. This is an Apple framework allowing VoIP calls to be integrated more fully into your iPhone.
The downside to using CallKit is that calls will be logged on your iPhone. And if you’re using iCloud, call data will then be stored on Apple’s servers. Thankfully, those who value privacy above usability can opt out by going to Settings > Advanced > Use CallKit.
Being Transparent About Tradeoffs
With this update, Signal is trying to make its platform more compelling to ordinary, everyday users. The challenge for Signal is to pull this off without making itself any less secure.
The key must be to offer users the choice between usability and security, and being transparent about any tradeoffs being made. Otherwise Signal, which NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden once endorsed, may lose the trust of its users.
Do you use Signal? Why did you you choose an app which encrypts your messages and voice calls? Who do you think is listening in? Will you now use Signal for encrypted video calls? How do you feel about CallKit integration? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Veronica – Ilaria via Flickr