Signal adds mainstream chat features to lure wider audience
January 29, 2021
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The latest version of Signal for both iOS (5.3.1) and Android (5.3.7) brings a number of new additions to the increasingly popular encrypted messaging app. These include mainstream features like chat wallpapers, animated stickers, and an “About” section in your profile. The iOS app now handles data more efficiently, too, bringing it closer to feature parity with the Android app.

Messaging apps like Signal and Telegram have seen a surge in growth in recent weeks. Signal was helped by a recommendation from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, while both benefited from the backlash to Facebook’s confusing new privacy policy for WhatsApp.

The new features were first announced on January 11th, and Android Police reported on them rolling out in the beta version of Signal for Android last week Friday. With chat wallpapers, you can pick from a number of presets or select a photo of your own, and you can also set a wallpaper for a specific conversation or all of them. The beta had 24 animated stickers, according to Android Police.

The iOS app, meanwhile, is also more efficient with data. iPhone users will see a new setting to lower data usage during calls, an option to automatically pause attachment downloads during calls, and improved image compression among other enhancements.

Signal has long been a popular messaging option for those focused on the security of their communications — the European Commission told staff to switch to Signal in February 2020, for example — and Signal is still focused on releasing new security-focused features, such as encrypted group video calls. But more consumer-focused features like wallpapers and stickers could make Signal feel more approachable for users coming to the app from WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, and, ideally, keep them on Signal over the long term.

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