A new Threema version for iOS has just hit the App Store. The 4.5 update contains numerous small, yet useful, enhancements.
Quoting messages is now as easy as swiping right. The new Leave Group menu item in the group details allows to leave groups without deleting them, and you can now conveniently share contacts (in the detail view) by means of Share Links.
The user interface has also undergone some refinements. For instance, in-app-notifications now contain image previews. On iOS 13, Threema adheres to the system-wide Appearance setting (in Settings > Display & Brightness), which allows to automatically switch the theme at sunrise and sunset.
On top of that, this update includes several other improvements and bug fixes. To get an overview of all changes and additions, please refer to the changelog.
In a group chat, the idea to go out for dinner comes up. Various restaurant suggestions are proposed, and lively debates about the pros and cons of each place emerge. Roberto is okay with anything but sushi, Lisa prefers restaurants nearby, and Hanna is a vegan…
This is where Threema’s poll feature comes in handy. In the chat, tap the paperclip icon (Android) or the plus sing (iOS), and start a poll. Once all group members have cast their vote, a chart will show which option is the most popular.
When opening this Share Link on a mobile device, the respective ID will be added to the contact list in Threema. When opening the link on a computer (or a mobile device on which Threema is not installed), a custom website appears, where you can add the ID to Threema by scanning a QR code (or download the app from the appropriate store).
Share your Threema ID using the Share Link like this:
In Threema > My Profile, tap the Share button
Select the communication channel, e.g., email or SMS
Select the contacts you wish to share your Threema ID with
You can also add your Share Link to your email signature or use it as (anonymous) contact information on social networks.
The Threema app for iOS receives a well-rounded update. Version 4.4 makes the time-tested interface shine in new splendor, it includes various useful new features and improves performance and stability in different areas.
Revised user interface: The iOS app incorporates a unified new color scheme. “My ID” has received a facelift along with a new name, “My Profile”. The settings have been streamlined, and the interface has been polished all over.
Storage Management: iOS users can now free up disk space in one sweep. Simply navigate to Settings > Storage Management, where you can conveniently delete all messages or media files of a certain age at once.
Refactoring of web client and voice calls: The code bases of Threema Web and Threema calls have been rewritten. Performance and stability of the web client have improved noticeably, and the connection buildup for voice calls is even faster and more reliable than before.
iOS 13 support and much more: In addition to improvements for iOS 13, the update fixes various bugs and contains several other improvements.
With the update to version 4.0, Threema for Android gets a complete facelift. The new design is not only pleasant to look at, it also enhances the app’s usability. Thanks to the streamlined navigation, you can now access your favorite features faster than ever.
Besides interface improvements, this update includes various measures for even stricter privacy protection. The dependency on external apps and services has been cut down further. Instead of Google Maps, a custom map viewer is used, and both camera and QR-code reader are now built into Threema.
Archive chats: Orderly users will particularly appreciate this feature. In the chat overview, swipe left to archive a chat. The chat will not be deleted, but it no longer takes up space in the overview. To get to the chat archive, select “Archieved” in the menu.
New maps and new location selection: Instead of Google Maps and the Google Play services, Threema now uses its own infrastructure for maps and POIs (Places of Interest) based on data from OpenStreetMap. This way, no location data has to be shared with external map services.
Use your finger or Face Unlock to unlock the app: Threema can now be protected using your smartphone’s biometric mechanism, provided that your device supports the official Android API.
Quote messages: You can now quote messages by swiping right.
Voice messages: Recordings can be paused, and (depending on the device) playback of voice messages continues in the background.
For further details, please refer to the changelog.
The 4.3 update of Threema for iOS adds full support for mentions in group chats. Simply tap the “@” key in a group conversation, and select the contact you wish to mention. This way, even the most lively discussions remain comprehensible, and group members never miss a message that’s relevant to them again (cf. “Notify when mentioned”).
On top of that, this update packs several other additions and improvements. For example, you can gently press on a link to open a preview of the respective website (requires a 3D Touch device).
For all the details, please refer to the changelog.
More and more companies start to realize that employees would like to communicate with colleagues the way they are used to communicate with friends, i.e., using messaging apps. However, conventional chat services don’t meet the corporate requirements for data protection, security, and administration capabilities. If no alternative is put in place, employees will eventually resort to apps they use in their personal lives. As a result, a parallel IT emerges, and there is no strict separation between personal and professional communication.
This is where Threema Work comes in. The professional messaging solution for companies is tailored to the needs of organizations (central user management, pre-configuration of the app, full legal compliance, etc.) and provides the level of convenience users are accustomed to from similar consumer apps.
Numerous renowned companies rely on Threema Work for secure and efficient team communication. They are now joined by Bosch, a leading international technology company and service provider.
An era comes to an end. Due to the discontinuation of Windows Phone (and Windows 10 Mobile), there will be no further Threema updates for this platform.
In its last update (to version 3.0), the Windows Phone app adds support for Threema Safe. This allows Windows Phone users to transfer their Threema ID, contacts, and groups to another platform and use Threema on Android or iOS in the future.
Threema is known for rock-solid security and unparalleled privacy protection. The algorithms and protocols used in Threema’s cryptography are well documented, and the encryption’s proper implementation can be verified at any time. On top of that, renowned experts periodically conduct independent audits to confirm Threema’s security.
Headed by Prof. Sebastian Schinzel, the Lab for IT Security of Münster’s University of Applied Sciences has thoroughly audited Threema’s code during the past months. With considerable effort and all the required technical expertise, the Android and the iOS app as well as Threema Safe were examined in great detail for possible security flaws. However, no critical vulnerabilities were found, and the researches gave Threema top grades:
“Threema takes the security and privacy of their users very seriously.”
“Threema performs as specified in the published documentation.”
“Threema’s security and privacy features are intact and effective.”
The audit report is publicly available in its entirety. The few minor issues that were put forward have been addressed immediately and are already fixed in the current app versions. Get an idea of the test procedure Threema has undergone:
Conventional chat services identify their users by means of the users’ phone numbers. Since a phone number points to the identity of its owner, it’s not possible to use such services anonymously. But how is that a drawback? Why should you care about anonymity if you only communicate with friends you know personally?
In order to address these questions, it’s necessary distinguish two kinds of anonymity:
Anonymity in regard to the chat partner – “horizontal anonymity”
Anonymity in regard to the chat service – “vertical anonymity”
Threema accommodates both types of anonymity:
Instead of a phone number, the Threema ID serves as unique identifier. Since this ID is a random sequence of characters, it doesn’t reveal any details about the owner’s identity. Therefore, it’s possible to contact someone via Threema without disclosing one’s identity to the contacted person.
Linking personally identifiable information (such as the phone number or an email address) to one’s Threema ID is optional. Therefore, Threema as service provider has no way of knowing a user’s identity if they don’t link a phone number or email address to their ID.
Horizontal anonymity enables you to communicate with like-minded people in group chats without having to expose your identity in the process. Due to the rise of censorship in social media, this use case is becoming increasingly popular. Another typical scenario is the use of Threema as a whistleblowing channel, and there are even churches that use Threema as a “digital confessional”.
While anonymity in regard to the chat partner may not be of equal importance to all Threema users, vertical anonymity is relevant to all users in the sense that each of them chooses whether to use this privacy feature or not.
By disclosing your identity to every Internet service you use, a comprehensive record of your online activities can be compiled by combining the user data from the different sources. If, however, you remain anonymous to a service, you can be absolutely sure that the respective data will not be merged with your user data from other sources and therefore can’t be misused for advertising or other purposes.
If you decide to link your Threema ID to your phone number or email address (in order for your contacts to easily retrieve your ID), this data is safely stored on the Threema server in encrypted form. However, if you don’t disclose any personally identifiable information in the first place, your anonymity is guaranteed, and your privacy is protected in the best possible way. Because as long as someone’s identity is unknown, their privacy can’t be violated; that’s why anonymity is the ultimate privacy protection. In short, anonymity is to privacy what end-to-end encryption is to security.
These days, any popular instant messenger encrypts the transmitted messages; therefore, it doesn’t matter which service you use. Right? Not quite. For one thing, there are major differences regarding type and scope of the encryption, for another thing, as important as encryption is, it is only one aspect of comprehensive security.
The term “secure instant messenger” is typically used to refer to chat services that end-to-end encrypt the transmitted messages. This is to say that only the intended recipient can decrypt and read the messages but not the service provider or any third party that might intercept the messages in transit. Not all popular chat services use this form of encryption. Even some of the services that are generally considered secure don’t use it by default or not across the board.
A secure instant messenger should not just end-to-end encrypt selected single chats; it should use a well-established method to end-to-end encrypt any kind of communication, including voice calls, media files, group chats, and status messages.
The way metadata is handled is just as important for comprehensive security as message encryption. “Metadata” is any information relating to the communication except the message content itself, e.g., identity of sender and recipient, their IP addresses, time, place, and frequency of communication, contact lists, group memberships, profiles, etc. This data allows to draw insightful conclusions about the users, which is why certain companies systematically collect it and combine it with data from other sources. With the phone number as common denominator, it’s particularly easy to map user data across different sources.
A secure instant messenger should only generate data that’s absolutely necessary for message exchange. Because where there is no data, no data can be misused.
Security by design
In contrast to chat services that have introduced end-to-end encryption after the fact (and collect user data to this day), Threema was built from the ground up with security and metadata restraint in mind. For example, Threema can be used without disclosing any personal information because instead of a phone number (as with traditional messaging apps), an anonymous ID serves as unique identifier.
Besides encryption of messages and handling of metadata, the security of a chat service depends on several other factors. The independent website Secure Messaging Apps Comparison offers a detailed comparison of popular instant messengers based on a variety of such factors. Threema scores particularly well: It’s the service that ticks the most “nothing of concern” boxes.