Signal is retiring SMS support on Android devices

Signal is a messenger used to exchange encrypted correspondence between users of the application. Its interface also allows you to process SMS messages. However, this on Android conflicts with privacy so much that it needs to go. Why and how to deal with it?

What is Signal SMS for?

Signal enables the secure exchange of text messages and multimedia between app users. Granting the rights to the communicator to use the SMS channel turns it into a service open to the world. It allows you to send and receive text messages sent to a phone number, not an alert ID. Thus, it can be used to correspond with people who do not use this encrypted service.

Why is SMS support being removed from Signal?

We have reached the point where SMS processing no longer makes sense.

– the Signal messenger provider explains its decision.

This does not mean that the short message system is a dead functionality. For the Android operating system, SMS support was a security exception for Signal. Messages sent and received through this channel cannot be encrypted, nor can messages sent between users of the application. Not only is Signal responsible for handling the SMS channel, but so is the telecommunications service provider.

This means another inconvenience. Messenger messages consume internet data packets. SMS are an additional burden on telecommunication services. According to the messenger provider, there are users of the app who, without knowing the difference, are sending SMS instead of the Signal message.

It is important that people do not mistake SMS messages sent or received through the Signal interface as secure and private when they are not.

The messenger vendor doesn’t see an opportunity to develop a Signal interface that makes a clear enough distinction. By offering the SMS service feature, Signal cannot be a messenger that prefers the privacy of correspondence.

How to check if we are using SMS in Signal?

The changes are important for users of Signal messenger on Android devices and who use the interface of this application to send or receive SMS messages. Signal reports that deactivating the SMS channel will take many months, and users using it will receive notifications at every milestone. However, there are two straightforward ways that can help us determine if we are affected by the problem:

  • checking Signal app permissions

To do this, visit the device settings for the SMS channel. If Signal is active among apps that support it, we use a deprecated feature.

  • checking Signal correspondence

Here’s what SMS messages look like in Signal:

SMS messages received in Signal

In the sample view, SMS support is disabled by the user, but is affected by the planned deactivation of this feature.

How to save your SMS with Signal?

Disabling support for Signal’s short messaging system means that we will no longer use its SMS messaging interface in the future, and correspondence collected through this channel will be deleted.

With one on board we can save it by making a backup. Signal will also support more functional export of messages to another application. However, this process must be initiated by the user.

To do this, he must:

  1. select a messaging alternative and give such application permission to process SMS,
  2. go to export messages,
  3. then disable their support from Signal.

There are several months for data migration, and users will be informed of the final dates individually. Signal also declares that in the meantime the communicator will be equipped with a function that automates the sending of invitations to use the application.

Source: Signal

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