• mdo  k3tan
  •   FOSS
  •   June 6, 2021

The world of online messaging has become an interesting one to navigate. I've been trying out Threema as an alternative messaging platform.

What is Threema? By its own advertising, it's the messenger that puts security and privacy first. Pay once, chat forever. No collection of user data. Open Source.

Here are my first impressions so far, noting that I've only had it for a few days. I installed it on my Pixel 3a flashed with CalyxOS (Android)

One of the key differences is that this messaging app is paid. I like the pricing structure. It's cheap, it's one off and you can pay with bitcoin. I bought myself a licence and a few more for friends and family.

In terms of the mobile app itself, it is super slick. Very intuitive, easy to set up, nice interface, dark theme, responsive and fast. The comparison chart does a great job highlighting the differences (and mostly positives) between Threema and it's competitors (Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp). I would encourage you to read through it and draw your own conclusions. It highlights the strengths of Threema quite well.

So, where does it fall short?

Firstly, multiple device support is lacking. You can't log in on multiple devices, yet. They're working on implementing this feature which is expected to come out in 2021.

The only way to get Threema on your desktop/laptop is with Threema Web - and I've found it to be noticeably less responsive when changing between chat partners (and a bit laggy in general). It also has no dark mode, no keyboard shortcuts and no search functionality. I suspect the app or interface they're working on that replaces Threema Web will have these features.

I do like that Threema Web can be imported into Ferdi and Rambox, unlike Signal.

There are no stickers - I know a few people who enjoy this feature. It does allow you to bold, italicise and strikethrough your text messages.

Threema doesn't allow for self destructing messages and deleting messages on the recipients device. Once your message has been sent, it can't be taken back. They do not intend to build this feature in citing security and reliability concerns.

I also get pushback from various people resisting downloading the app. "Yet another chat messaging app?" they cry. There's a real limit to how many messaging apps people are willing to install. At this point, I'd have to buy people a licence as gifts to get them to switch and even that may not work.

I'd say Signal is probably your best bet in getting friends and family moved over from WhatsApp, but Threema presents an option should Signal go down an unsavoury path. It's always good to have options.

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