It is rather difficult to keep an overview of all the secure texting and messaging solution available for Android simply because there are so many different ones available for the platform.
German security company G Data just released Secure Chat which adds itself to the list.
The free version of the application supports three core features that all users can make use of. It supports encrypted SMS messages, encrypted group chat, and messages that self-destruct after a set amount of time.
The application requires quite a few permissions but most if not all seem to be reasonable for an application of its kind.
Secure Chat recommends to verify an account through SMS verification as it allows you to use the same account on other devices among other things.
The process is automated and should not take long. If it fails, and the chance that it does is there, it gives you the option to verify by a voice call instead.
Once you are done with the initial setup, you will receive prompts in the main interface. The first provides you with the option to make Secure Chat the default SMS application on the system while the second to import all SMS messages of the device to the application's encrypted database.
While it can take over SMS messaging on your device, it is not a requirement so that you may use it and the default SMS application side by side on the device without issues.
The app works for the most part just like any other text messaging app you come across. Tap on the plus icon to pick a contact from your list of contacts to send a message. If the recipient does not have Secure Chat installed, you will send an unsecured SMS, otherwise a secure message.
The self-destruct feature works only if all recipients use Secure Chat and not if messages are sent using SMS.
Group Chat works pretty much the same way as group chat in other apps such as WhatsApp. Select to create a new group and add as many members to it as you want. If all use Secure Chat, the whole group conversation will be encrypted. If at least one does not, it will be MMS instead (and thus not encrypted).
Secure Chat supports a couple of other features that you may find useful. You may protect the storage with an extra password that anyone opening the application on your device needs to enter before text messages are revealed.
The application uses push messages when you are communicating with other Secure Chat users by default. This can be disabled in the options if you want SMS to be used instead.
Users who have installed G Data Internet Security for Android benefit from additional features such as malware and phishing protection, an SMS filter to block unwanted messages, and the ability to save contacts securely.
As far as overall security is concerned, G Data reveals that the protocol the app uses is based on TextSecure.
The biggest drawback of the app is that it only secures messages if all recipients use Secure Chat, but that is something that all other apps face as well.
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