Discussion: Signal

This is an official discussion thread linked from the www.privacytools.io website. This thread can be used for troubleshooting, questions, discussions and if you look for alternatives.

Some comparsion between Signal and Wire may be happening in the Wire thread.


So, Wire will hold some of my personal information in plaintext or encrypted, right? If so, what are these info? In comparison, Signal just gets my mobile number. Can I circumvent this by registeing with a virtual number paid by crypto?

Wire stores metadata such as list of your connections/conversations in plaintext (= not encrypted).

is what PTIO says on https://www.privacytools.io/software/im/ and the more information link goes to:

You can find their terms from https://wire.com/en/legal/#terms.

Yes. I guess with your own responsibility and you would possibly have to explain your contacts why you have a different number at Signal than everywhere else.

There is also a thread on anonymous Signal IDs that could be given to contacts instead of phone numbers in Signal Community Discourse.


Did you know that you can start Signal in tray icon, while giving it the --start-in-tray flag? I have had it in my i3 config and Windows shell:startup for a long time and now I also commented the later on their issue tracker when asked. I hope it will become more accessible by coming to the settings.

1 Like

Signal App is based in USA, so can we really trust Signal app ?

1 Like

Snowden recommends it, and its open source. My guess is yes, US based servers don’t mean anything if Signal doesn’t log anything that matters. Link that proves Signals no log policy

Signal.org Government Requests, and their version of the previous link is Grand jury subpoena for Signal user data, Eastern District of Virginia.


How do I use Signal as an instant messaging app? AFAIK the only thing I can do is send SMS and my cellphone company charges me for it. Is there a way to use it without spending money? Could this be related to my phone being old and not having some feature?

When you long press “send” button, there is option to choose between SMS and IM. The best advise would be to use some other SMS app instead od Signal (decline using it for SMS when it offers you)

Signal is primarily an instant messaging app that offers encrypted communication only. However, you have the possibility to also use it as an replacement for your phone’s SMS app. If you use Signal this way, you send SMS in cleartext to contacts that don’t have Signal.

Signal should automatically recognize if your contact also uses Signal and turn on encrypted messages.

Your contact likely doesn’t have the Signal app installed. Check this. If this is still the case, turn off SMS support in Signal’s settings. Then, you should get notified that your contact doesn’t have Signal prior to sending anything.


Yeah, it looks that when I tried to use I have configured it to work as my SMS app too, so that was impeding me from sending encrypted messages. Thanks!

I don’t trust Signal. I’d rather use Silence, even if it’s not protecting as much of the metadata as Signal would. I can at least get Silence via F-Droid as it has no GApps requirement, and as a result I can use it with Replicant. And I don’t have to worry about reverse lookup as I use a burner. I also prefer Jami as well as it’s peer-to-peer, end-to-end encrypted and you can use it with Tor, I2P or a VPN. Maybe ProtonTech will come out with ProtonChat and that’ll be an alternative to Signal, I’d love that. :heart_eyes:

Only for clarification:

These are different apps for different purposes:

  • Signal: Instant messenger with built-in strong end-to-end encryption and modern ways to reduce the amount of exposed metadata. Optionally, one can use it as an SMS app. In this case, SMS are still in cleartext and there is no additional protection. Years ago, Signal actually came with encryption for SMS, but they removed it since there is not much privacy gain when encrypting SMS.
  • Silence: Fork of Signal’s SMS part that adds encryption to SMS/MMS. All metadata of SMS/MMS is still exposed. So it is as “secure” and “private” as e-mails with some encryption on top. Furthermore, the amount of releases continuously decreased from 20+/year to 3 in 2019. Important for Google Play users: No 2019 update reached the Play Store so far. So you get version 0.15.13 there (released in March 2018).

You can use Signal without Google apps on your phone by directly downloading and installing the Signal apk. They added this in March 2017, version 3.30.0 and above.


You can get Signal without Google Play, but you can’t use it without Open GApps installed for Google Play services. I’ve tried it just recently and I couldn’t get it to work.

We just installed Signal (from their website) on LOS 15.1, no Google Apps on the device. We already did this before but wanted to check the current initial setup.

Signal shows a warning message:

Missing Google Play Services – This device is missing Google Play Services. You can still use Signal, but this configuration may result in reduced reliability and performance. If you are not an advanced user, are not running an aftermarket Android ROM, or believe that you are seeing this in error, please contact support@signal.org for help troubleshooting.

You can either choose “cancel” or “I understand”. That’s all. Signal runs flawlessly afterwards. We tried this before with previous LineageOS versions without Google Apps installed. So maybe there are other issues with your ROM or setup.

I’ve used Signal for at least 18mths without google play or gapps. On different devices using LineageOS and Resurrection Remix. Works fine. Every so often it will tell you an update is available or you can check manually.

I recently have uninstalled all Google play services from my phone and now Signal shows me this error message “Permanent Signal communication failure: Signal won’t run unless you update Google Play services” and I have to enter to the app in order to receive messages. I don’t use Play store Signal’s version, I have downloaded the .apk from their website.

Is there something I can do to fix this which is not downloading play store?

I haven’t been in this situation, but my guess would be that the fix that isn’t installing Google Play Services is installing microG.


Which of all of these should I download in order to use microG?

  • Service Core (GmsCore) is a library app, providing the functionality required to run apps that use Google Play Services or Google Maps Android API (v2).More details and installation instructions
  • Services Framework Proxy (GsfProxy) is a small helper utility to allow apps developed for Google Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) to use the compatible Google Cloud Messaging service included with GmsCore.Read GmsCore documentation for details
  • Unified Network Location Provider (UnifiedNlp) is a library that provides Wi-Fi- and Cell-tower-based geolocation to applications that use Google’s network location provider. It is included in GmsCore but can also run independently on most Android systems.More details and installation instructions
  • Maps API (mapsv1) is a system library, providing the same functionality as now deprecated Google Maps API (v1).More details and installation instructions
  • Store (Phonesky) is a frontend application providing access to the Google Play Store to download and update applications. Development is in early stage and there is no usable application yet.