The “Bitcoin-Standard” of Encryption is Now On Your PC: Signal for Desktop!
At the Dark Android Project I’ve mentioned for some time that when it comes to using an encrypted messaging service, nothing beats TextSecure from Open Whisper Systems. Nothing else even comes close (as much as I appreciate Telegram for what it is). I call it the “Bitcoin-standard” of mobile encryption apps (my own little play on the phrase: the “gold standard”). Even Edward Snowden has given it his highest recommendation. Recently, as I reported here and was informing people for over year that it would happen on my tech podcast Sovryn Tech, TextSecure and the encrypted voice call app RedPhone had merged on the Android platform to become Signal (which is the combined security suite that both apps had already existed as on iOS).
And today, the Signal app/suite just got a little bit better. Open Whisper Systems has announced the beta release of Signal Desktop. It’s a Chrome browser app that connects with your Android app (not your iOS app yet) to allow you to send encrypted messages and encrypted calls via your desktop. Yes, that means you can finally use a full keyboard (if you weren’t already using a bluetooth keyboard connected to your smartphone) to message people with some of the best encryption out there.
Admittedly, I’m disappointed that this is only available as a Chrome app at the moment, but only at the moment. I say that because, as a die-hard Firefox user, I would like this to be available for Firefox. And the “at the moment” comes from the fact that Mozilla has already planned to replace the Firefox add-on system to become compatible with Chrome extensions, so it’s only a matter of time before Signal Desktop as a Chrome app will be able to natively function in Firefox (I’m just really impatient for that day), no need for a native Firefox app to get developed.
In the mean time, I certainly don’t recommend that you install Chrome to be able to test this. First off, Signal Beta is in a “private beta” for now, and so you may not be able to use it right away, anyways. But if you do get into the beta, you can certainly use alternative Chromium-based browsers to test it, without having to install Alphabet/Google’s privacy nightmare known as the Google Chrome web browser. SRWare’s Iron browser, and even Chromium itself, are two of many options for using a web browser that can natively run Chrome apps without forcing you to use any of Google’s closed-source nonsense.
As far as the fact that Signal Dekstop is not able too attach to iOS yet and thus isn’t available for iOS users yet? Myself, I don’t terribly care. While I can recognize the advantages of iOS (I even did a write-up about Dark iOS a while back), I am always pleased to see companies choosing Android first for a release (much like SwiftKey did for their Neural Keyboard). While Google is doing it’s damnedest to put an end to Android open nature, Android is still the most open OS on the market today, and so for it to get first dibs on a software release (or related software, anyway) gives the platform some much needed credibility to hopefully convince other developers to even consider releasing many of their solid iOS apps on Android. Regardless, I’m sure the ability for Signal Desktop to pair with your iOS app will come in short order.
Also, I’m pleased to see the desktop environment getting taken seriously by a mobile app developer. As much as dumbass Silicon Valley CEO’s and marketers proclaim the contrary, the world isn’t ready to toss away its laptops and desktops yet (and hopefully, the world will never want to do that). Anything that gives your laptop/desktop more of the abilities of mobile devices–with the natural ability to better control your security and privacy that desktop software and OS’ provide–is a very good thing, in my opinion, and Signal for Desktop is a fantastic further step in that direction. I look forward to the future where there is nothing that your 13″ laptop can’t do that your smartphone can do (and in many ways, that’s already a reality if you purchase a USB GPS device).
So again, don’t bother pestering Open Whisper Systems about making this available on Firefox, pester Mozilla to get their Chrome app extensibility layer for Firefox released finally (which Microsoft also hasn’t released for their Edge browser, as much as they keep promising that they will). And keep in mind that Signal Desktop is in beta…don’t get risking your life on it yet (if ever).
But if you do want to get in on the Signal Desktop beta, just click here. Let’s encrypt everything everywhere, baby! Wooo!