Signal is phasing out support for sending and receiving standard text messages from its Android app after years of supporting the ability to have them side-by-side with your Signal messages, which are encrypted end-to-end and sent using data. The company says that if you’ve set the app as your default SMS and MMS client, you’ll need to pick a new app to perform those tasks.
According to a wednesday blog post, users have “several months to switch from SMS to Signal” and migrate their messages to a new app. Of course, the post also recommends trying to convert the people you texted into Signal users. If you do use the feature (you can check this by going to Signal’s settings screen, then going to Chats > SMS & MMS and making sure “use as default SMS app” is enabled), you’ll see notifications that you remind you that you should switch soon.
Signal wants to make clear what its app is for: send secure messages
The company’s post explains a few reasons why it decided to make the change, but they all boil down to simplicity; it’s concerned about having two very different types of messages in its app, one of which is end-to-end encrypted and uses data, and one that’s more or less completely insecure and has a separate billing schedule for some phone plans. (Signal specifically says it heard of users being slapped with high phone bills for sending text messages when they thought they were sending Signal messages.)
Not included in the post is any mention of Rich Communication Services, or RCS, the standard that companies like Google, Samsung, and some cellular carriers are pushing as a replacement for text messaging. However, it is not the case that RCS would have solved the confusion; it can support end-to-end encryption, but isn’t necessarily secure by default, and you can’t send RCS messages to iPhones, meaning you’ll either have to fall back on texting or just be unable to get some people in. your default texting app.
Signal did not immediately respond to The edge‘s request for comment on whether his app supported RCS or whether its adoption as a messaging standard for Android played a role in his decision to remove text messages from his app.