Signal Messenger removes SMS support: “No longer makes sense.”

The messaging app Signal has decided to discontinue their SMS and MMS features. We explain the reasons, and what users need to know now.

WhatsApp competitor Signal has started to remove the SMS and MMS features for Android on their app. The company announced on their blog that they are doing this to improve the safety and data protection for their users, help save costs, and to improve the user experience.



Why Signal is removing the SMS feature

For many years, Signal users could not only send internet-based messages, but also SMS and MMS through the messaging app. Aside from Signal, there are only a few other messaging services that offer this feature, such as the Facebook Messenger from Meta and Google Messages.

The feature has been around for about ten years, when Signal was still called “TextSecure” and used the safety protocol Axolotl. It allowed users to set Signal as their default app for SMS (and MMS). This enabled users to send a text to anybody in their contact list a message through Signal. If the contact didn’t have the Signal app, they would receive an SMS instead.

Now, however, Signal has announced that they will start discontinuing the feature. In a blog entry, the company wrote:

We have now reached the point where SMS support no longer makes sense.

The decision wasn’t an easy one, the company said. Apparently, there were three main reasons for this.

  1. Ensure better data protection and security for users.
  2. Reduce costs for users.
  3. Streamline the user experience.

For Signal, the main issue with the SMS feature is the lack of security. Unlike the internet-based chats, the text messages are not protected by Signal’s strong security protocols. For the company that is known for its high safety standards, and has even been promoted by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk as a safe alternative to WhatsApp, this is a key issue.

At the same time, the feature can also create (unwanted) costs for users because they are being charged regular text message prices for using the SMS feature.

Lastly, Signal also said that they wanted to streamline the user experience on the app. Starting now, the SMS feature will be discontinued. The process will take a few months, so users will have some time to get used to the transition.


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What will change for users

The changes will obviously only affect users that have been using the SMS feature in Signal. All other users will not notice any differences.

If you are using the function, you will need to set another default SMS app on your phone. In addition, if you want to make sure that the content of your texts won’t disappear after the feature is shut down, you have to export the messages.

How to export your SMS from the Signal messenger app

Signal will make it possible for Android users to export and thus save their text messages. Basically, you will have to save your Signal text messages in your new SMS app.

Users will soon start seeing notifications in the app that will guide them through the process.

And if you want to use Signal in the future to stay in touch with your external contacts? Then you’ll have to convince them to download the messaging app!

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