Open Whisper Systems today launched an open beta version of its free encryption app Signal as an app in Google’s Chrome web store, the first step in bringing its encrypted messaging and calling functions to the desktop. For now the desktop app only links with Signal accounts registered on an Android device, and only supports text-based messaging, not voice. However, the company says a desktop version that synchs with iOS devices is coming soon, [UPDATE: the iOS version is now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch] along with encrypted desktop voice calls and more encrypted file-sharing features. All of that promises to make Signal the most broadly adaptable, full-featured, and free secure communications platform available.
Open Whisper’s apps have been installed on more than a million Android phones alone, and the Textsecure encrypted texting protocol has been integrated by default into the popular Cyanogenmod version of Android and the half-billion Android installations of Whatsapp. Now the company wants to make the same functionality available on desktop computers, making it easy and secure for the desktop user to call a cell phone user or vice versa. Of course, a desktop user also can call another desktop user. The new app will replace Skype and Google Hangout with something far more secure.
All of the code written by Open Whisper Systems is free, open source, and available on GitHub. This allows experts to verify the protocols and the implementations.
You can learn more about Open Whisper’s products for secure cell phone conversations and text messaging at https://whispersystems.org. The open beta for the desktop product is described at https://whispersystems.org/blog/signal-desktop.