SecureChatGuide.org
SecureChatGuide.org

Apps to use on a single device

Step-by-step guides and detailed information on secure messaging apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux.

These seven apps have excellent quality and security if you only need to use one device. Wire, WickrMe and Keybase can be used with a single device but can also be used on multiple devices, so if you do choose to start using multiple devices in the future those apps will make that transition easy.

Wire

Pros:
  • Has a nice clean, modern look, lots of features
  • Communicate with text, voice, video or group text chat
  • You can optionally set messages to automatically delete up to 4 weeks after delivery
  • You can login to the Wire website and chat from any computer
  • Has apps for iOS and Android, as well as desktop clients for MacOS, Windows and Linux.
  • Based in Switzerland (great privacy laws)
Cons:
  • You need to provide an email or phone number to create an account. But this information is never given to any of your contacts.
  • On some small number of Android devices notifications are an issue. The Wire support page lists a number of possible solutions that require user intervention that other messenger apps don't seem to have. The Android app issue tracker consistently has notification bugs for Android opened.
Other features:
  • Send photos, videos, audio clips, files and location
  • Draw on a photo before sending it
  • Quote prior messages
  • Search for words in a chat
  • Mention other participants
  • Like a comment
  • Manually delete a message including from all participants' devices
  • Delivery and read receipts in individual chats
  • Up to 300 participants per group chat
  • Link previews
  • Pings
  • Contact verification through device fingerprint comparison
Install Wire

Threema

Pros:
  • Very nice look, lots of features
  • Communicate with text, voice or group text chat
  • Based in Switzerland (great privacy laws)
  • No personal information such as an email address or phone number is needed to create an account
Cons:
  • Video chat is not available
  • No option for automatic deletion of messages
Other features:
  • Send photos, videos, audio clips, files, contacts and location
  • Create polls
  • Draw on a photo before sending it
  • Quote prior messages
  • Search for words in a chat
  • Mention other participants
  • Thumbs up/down on messages in individual chats
  • Delivery and read receipts in individual chats
  • Up to 100 participants per group chat
  • Contact verification through key fingerprint comparison
Install Threema

WickrMe

Pros:
  • Communicate with text, voice and group text chat
  • All messages automatically delete up to 6 days after delivery
  • No personal information such as an email address or phone number is needed to create an account
Cons:
  • Doesn't have as many features as other apps
  • Video chat is not available in the personal free version
  • The 6 day maximum retention period for messages may be too short if you like to be able to go back to old messages
  • Based in the USA, if you are worried about using something from a 5 eyes country
  • No web app. You must install the desktop application on work or public computers to chat. This may be an issue if you do not have permissions to install the application.
Other features:
  • Send photos, videos, audio clips, files and location
  • Search for words in a chat
  • Messages can be locked until you touch them to reveal text
  • Star a comment (only you see this)
  • Recall a message to delete it from all participants' devices
  • Up to 10 participants per group chat
  • Online status indicator
  • Contact verification through a recorded video
Install WickrMe

SafeSwiss

Pros:
  • Communicate with text, voice and group text chat
  • Messages can be set to automatically delete up to 1 year after delivery
  • Based in Switzerland (great privacy laws)
  • No personal information such as an email address or phone number is needed to create an account
Cons:
  • Doesn't have as many features as other apps
  • Video chat is currently in beta
Other features:
  • Send photos, videos, audio clips, files, contacts and location
  • Crop a photo before sending it
  • Search for words in a chat
  • Manually delete a message including from all participants' devices
  • Delivery and read receipts in individual chats??
  • Contact verification through key fingerprint comparison
Install SafeSwiss

TwinMe

Pros:
  • Communicate with text, voice, video and group text chat
  • Connections are made directly between your device and your chat partner's device, no server acts as the middle man
  • No personal information such as an email address or phone number is needed to create an account
Cons:
  • No option for automatic deletion of messages
  • You can't make a backup or export your keys or messages to move to another device
  • No contact verification
Other features:
  • Create multiple profiles in the app
  • Send photos, videos, audio clips, files and streaming music
  • Manually delete a message including from all participants' devices
  • Delivery and read receipts in individual chats
Install TwinMe

Briar Project

Pros:
  • Communicate with text in one-on-one chats, private groups, forums and post on your own blog
  • Connections are made directly between your device and your chat partner's device, no server acts as the middle man
  • Uses the Tor secure network protocol
  • No personal information such as an email address or phone number is needed to run Briar. There is not even any controlling server where you need to create any account.
  • Available on F-Droid
  • Does not require Google Play Services
  • Can communicate with other Briar users over WiFi, BlueTooth and Tor
Cons:
  • Android only
  • Text only right now but sending photos is being worked on
  • Higher battery usage than most messengers
  • No option for automatic deletion of messages
  • You can't make a backup or export your keys or messages to move to another device
Other features:
  • Private Groups are chat rooms which are invite-only by the group creator
  • Forums are chat rooms where any members can add any of their own contacts
  • You have your own blog where you can write posts, and your contacts will see these posts in a blog feed
  • "Introductions" lets you give two people in your contact list each other's contact info so they can make their own connection in Briar
  • Online status indicator
  • Delivery and read receipts in individual chats
Install Briar

Keybase

Pros:
  • Unique features that other messengers don't have like identity proving and encrypted file sharing
  • Communicate with text, group text chat and team forums
  • Messages can be set to automatically delete up to 1 year as a global room setting and up to 7 days on individual messages
  • Has apps for Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows and Linux
Cons:
  • Requires an email address
  • Only "Exploding Messages" have perfect forward secrecy
  • No contact verification
Other features:
  • Send photos, videos and files
  • Quote prior messages
  • Search for words in a chat
  • Mention other participants
  • Add a reaction emoji to a comment
  • Optional link previews
  • Teams with discussion forums and shared file storage
  • Encrypted online file storage and sharing with other Keybase users
  • Encrypted Git repositories
  • A Stellar Lumen wallet is integrated into the app
  • Keybase provides ways for you to prove your online identities including Twitter, GitHub, Reddit, Hacker News, Mastodon, DNS, Bitcoin and ZCash
  • Manually delete a message including from all participants' devices
Install Keybase


Did you change your mind? Do you want to use a messaging app on multiple devices? Then you can follow this guide:

I want to use multiple devices