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How to Build an Encrypted Messaging App like Signal?

Published On July 24th, 2024 118Communication

When we think about encrypted messaging apps, it is likely that each one hits with their own thoughts of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line, etc. 

Does security and privacy still matter among users, even in this digital evolution? Don’t begin your messaging app development with this thought. The world’s most preferred messaging app answers this question. 

With WhatsApp’s January update this year, it introduced a new policy to share its users’ data, such as location, IMEI number, mobile network, and more, with its parent company, Facebook.

This leads to a backlash of billions of people switching to new messaging apps. In this guide, let’s understand why Signal is considered the most secure encrypted app and how to create a messaging app like Signal.

What Does It Mean to Have an Encrypted Messaging App?

As the history of encrypted messaging, most of the apps secured users’ chats with encryption. This means your message is transformed as ciphertext – encrypted with a key while you send and then transformed back as decrypted on other paired devices.

Without encryption, the messages will be transferred as plain text, which anyone with access to it can read at any point. 

Most instant messenger applications today use end-to-end encryption; as the name suggests, the keys are stored at the ends instead of the server. However, E2E has its weak points as well. 

The reliable soft spots are failure to recover the message history. In this case, the user can’t retrieve the conversation history if they have lost or changed the device. Another potential spot is the susceptibility to man-in-the-middle attacks, where skilled hackers could hack public keys to access. 

However, users won’t accept the word “there’s a chance” when it comes to security and privacy. Signal does, too.

If you think Signal is really encrypted, the answer is yes, and that will be further explained in this article.

Is Signal Chat App Really Encrypted? 

If you have this question, then this must be added within what way, for which use case and for who? 

Because these questions arise when people switch from their preferred messaging app WhatsApp. The answer to the question:

First, protecting the conversation doesn’t mean the encrypted messaging apps, this includes background information, IP address, and personal information like email address, phone number, and more.

Speaking of initial signup, email login is still widely considered the standard method. For comprehensive security, it’s essential to consider tools that protect against email-based threats, and DMARC tools are valuable for preventing unauthorized access and ensuring that your email communications are secure.

To strong suit the loopholes of security, Signal upgraded their protocol of end-to-end encryption with a Double Ratchet Algorithm. 

To remain a encrypted chat app, Signal’s algorithm creates session keys to public and private keys when users install the application. These session keys are made for each message sent, and they automatically self-destruct when the session is complete.

Meanwhile, the algorithm update is not the only feature that stands out Signal from the other messaging apps. Let’s find more features and applications that are made to say: “create a messaging app like Signal.

Features of the Signal as a Private Chat App

Strong End-to-End Encryption, Unlike Other Messaging Apps

The first answer to the question of whether Signal is actually secure is that Signal has been identified as a profoundly secure app because of its security, as mentioned above. Maybe because of Elon Musk’s tweet about and exactly “Use Signal.” 

Security and privacy are really impressive in Signal, as the encryption and the apps can’t track your calls, and the messages that you are sending and receiving are only visible to you and stay at the top. 

Customized PIN for Screen Lock

As an added security feature, along with your mobile’s screen lock, Signal offers a custom app lock as an extra layer. This will secure others from opening and using Signal, and you can also add Touch ID and Face recognition to lock the app.

Enabling a screen lock in this encrypted text app is pretty simple: navigate to settings and find Privacy. Then swipe down to Screen Lock and switch the toggle to on.

Block Screenshots in Chats

Like Snapchat, in Signal, you can block others from taking screenshots of anything within the app. This supports another layer of security, which will prevent the conversation from revealing or picking up any important documents as screenshots. 

It might be hard for you to find and enable this security feature as you’re navigating the most secure chat app, like Signal. Here’s the guide: Go to the app’s privacy settings by tapping on the profile icon. Here, locate and turn on the screen security.

Hide Messages from the Lock Screen

You’re secured to save a glimpse of the messages even in the notifications. It’s really annoying when others see the popping messages on the lock screen. 

In Signal, instead of seeing the entire message, you can just simply notify only the sender’s name and new message as info when you receive the messages.

Here’s the hand to enable this feature. Go to Settings, then Notifications, then Notification Content.

Self-destructing or Disappearing Messages

To get rid of not saving personal or sensitive information from others, we should delete the messages after sending them. But to be honest, we forgot about it. The disappearing messages in Signal will save your day. 

This feature in this messaging app will wipe out all the messages on your device as well as the receiver’s device once they have been read. Most importantly, this can’t be restored. 

To enable this, again Settings, Tap on the contact’s name, scroll down to Disappearing Messages, and turn it on. 

All these features make Signal the most secure encrypted text app as compared with others in the market. There are other features too that give Signal an uncompromised secure place, which includes Registration lock, 2FA, Incognito Keyboard, Note to Self, etc. 

How to Build Encrypted Messaging App Like Signal?

In this app-verse, what do you think about how people choose messaging apps? If you look deeply, you can understand that mobile users use more than one messaging app. It’s not only because of security; it’s because of their convenience.

So, when creating a messaging app like Signal, keep in mind that neither security nor features play alone. It’s all about users’ convenience. 

In this section, let’s understand how to create apps like Signal Messenger which is known for its security as well as features.

Signup/Login

To create/sign up for a new account, an encrypted chat app is tied up with three options such as phone number, email address, and social media accounts. Messaging apps like Signal require a phone number to sign up and send the verification code via SMS. 

Features like two-factor authentication will safeguard the account while. Users will know if someone tries to log in to the account or use the same account on another device.

User Profile & Customization 

The user profile is the hub where the basic information like name, contact address, contacts, settings, and FAQs. In the messaging app, users should have access to change profile settings such as adding or removing profile pictures and editing first name and last name. 

Apart from personal information, the notifications must be accessible to turn on and off if they want. Additionally, the messenger app should have control over blocking contacts.

Messaging apps like Signal allow customization of all these user profiles, and you can also use nicknames or emojis as the display name. 

Push Notifications

Push notifications play an influential role in choosing messaging apps and also in user retention. Not only does it send notifications when the users get notifications, but with the customization, users can be alerted when their favorite person comes online. When the person in users’ contacts opens an account, messages are sent, read, and more.

File Sharing

Another deciding factor when choosing a messaging app is file sharing. Users preferred apps like WhatsApp, which allows users to upload and send up to 2 GB in the form of a media file. Let the users send and receive the files, images, and videos with messages to the attachment.

But be sure that your messaging app is highly scalable and functional to transfer huge files in terms of server and client apps. If you develop a messaging app by outsourcing it to a mobile app development company, ensure the deployment and server. 

Audio and Video Calls

Do messaging apps only use text messaging? Of course not! Since people use different modes of communication within the same app, providing an omnichannel experience will be a great factor while developing messenger apps.

However, keep in mind that you should offer high-quality and seamless calls, or else you can avoid that feature. Otherwise, it’ll create a negative impression and lead you to switch your app. 

Integrating voice chat API and video call API will be a great choice for adding this communication feature to your messaging app.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Feature

Messaging apps like Signal utilize VoIP features which enable a seamless voice call process even you can build and use for business communication.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Messaging App like Signal

Building an app like Signal comprises various factors to estimate the cost which includes

  • UI/UX Features
  • App’s Features
  • Back-End Development
  • Tech Stack
  • Team Size
  • Development
  • App Testing

The cost of developing messaging apps like Signal will vary; the rough estimation based on the industry standard will be around $30,000 – $60,000. Moreover, the amount will vary for Android and iOS app development.

Chat APIs: Faster Launch for Encrypted Chat Apps like Signal

The security, encryption, and features will be our goal to attain, like the Signal messenger app. With the same objective, instead of relying on the development process, which costs you dollars, time, and resources, integrating Chat API and Messaging SDK will help you achieve the same results in a short period.

Here are the short comparison charts explaining which will be effective while developing a secure chat app like Signal.

FeatureReady Made White-Label Chat APIsDevelopment from Scratch
CustomizationFull control and customization over features, branding, and the way you send messagesFull control over customization but needs technical expertise to add, delete or edit
Unlimited Voice & Video CallsWith the single ready-made API solution, you can integrate unlimited group voice and video callsYou can include the function of unlimited voice and video calls but it requires tech stack and other permissions to enable
Development Time & CostWith pre-built messaging API, you can integrate within one week of time with advanced customizationsRequires significant time, cost, and expertise to close the development within 3-6 months of time.
SecurityCustom security with compliance with all industryHigh-end security
ScalabilityHighly scalable with custom options of on-cloud/on-premise or self-hosting. Able to manage 1 billion concurrent users based on the Chat API providerBased on the developmental stack
MaintenanceMaintenance can be handled by the providers which is typically low. You can own full source code for a lifetime.Requires high maintenance. Needs technical expertise to be done.

Hope the comparison helps you understand the real difference. To be short, developing a messaging app like Signal from scratch is like running behind the developers for each edit or change.

Integrating messaging API by choosing reputable providers will help you build the application with high security and fill it with features in a maximum one week of time at a low cost. However, this is entirely based on your White-Label Chat API providers. We’ll help you find the best based on the reputation, features, and customization to make your way clear. Here is the list of providers: MirrorFly, Apphitect, and TroopMessenger, who can provide you with custom security and 1000+ chat features like Signal.

Vigneshwar

Vigneshwar is a Performance Marketer, guiding providers of healthcare, education, etc., to elevate their conversation value with the help of powerful communication solutions to drive a better communication experience.

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