When buying a smartphone, battery life is a crucial decision factor. Even the most advanced mobile device is pretty much useless without energy. For this reason, smartphone manufacturers use various means to squeeze the absolute maximum out of their batteries. However, some brands of Android devices take it too far and throw the baby out with the bath water. They limit the background activity of third-party apps in such drastic ways that some of these apps can no longer provide basic functionality.
Longer Battery Life at the Cost of Reliability
If an app is active in the background, it might consume energy for no valid reason. This is why manufacturers like OnePlus, Samsung, and Xiaomi simply terminate third-party apps in the background or cut off their network connection based on custom, intransparent specifications (without notifying the user). Such measures don’t comply with Google’s Compatibility Definition Document (CDD). While not all apps suffer from obvious drawbacks, this undue behavior imposes major limitations on instant messengers like Threema as it inevitably leads to incoming messages appearing too late or not showing up at all while the app is in the background.
Special Treatment for Mainstream Apps
The problem runs even deeper, though. Since phone makers don’t want to annoy their customers, they add the most popular apps – WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, for example – to so-called “whitelists.” Apps included in whitelists are exempt from restrictions and work perfectly fine under all conditions. This gives users the impression that Threema is responsible for delayed notifications because other messengers don’t suffer from similar shortcomings. In fact, however, device manufacturers are solely responsible for these delays, and, what’s worse, there is nothing Threema can do about it.
In theory, users can enable the background activity for individual apps on some devices. However, the respective settings are typically scattered across countless screens in the system preferences’ most deep-leveled submenus. These settings differ not only from brand to brand but also from device model to device model, and the next OS update may reset the configuration altogether. On many devices, there is no way to manually fix the misbehavior in the first place.
Huawei Is the First to Reconsider
Some weeks ago, Huawei has re-enabled Threema to make use of the background activity provided by Android. On newer Huawei devices, Threema is therefore fully functional again. Our repeated attempts in convincing other manufacturers to also exempt Threema from destructive restrictions have failed, however.
This is why we now ask you, the users of affected devices, to contact the brands in question directly and kindly ask them to resolve this unfortunate situation:
Threema doesn’t store your data centrally on a server. Instead, your data is stored directly on your smartphone and is therefore protected in the best possible way against data leaks and unauthorized access by third parties.
It’s not always easy to reconcile security with usability, and one downside of this privacy-focused approach is the potential data loss that occurs if you ever happen to lose access to your device (and don’t have a recent backup). To compensate for this drawback without weakening security and privacy protection, Threema Safe has been available as a backup solution for some time now.
However, it is important to stress that Threema Safe does not simply create encrypted cloud backups; as far as security and privacy are concerned, it differs significantly from conventional backup approaches.
Threema Safe’s security doesn’t start with the encryption of backup content but one step earlier, with a backup’s file name.
The file name used to store a Threema Safe backup on the server is cryptographically derived from a combination of the Threema ID corresponding to the backup and the password defined by the user. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn as to whether a given backup belongs to a certain Threema ID or not. Vice versa, it’s impossible to determine whether there is a backup of a certain Threema ID present on the server or not (without knowing the password).
This is to say that even if we assume an attacker could gain access to the backup server in order to get to your data, he wouldn’t be able to tell whether there is a backup of your data in the first place, let alone ascertain which backup file is yours.
Threema Safe’s security architecture is straightforward and does not rely on complex, intransparent CPU features, such as Intel SGX, on the server side. Instead, backup encryption is based on the tried and tested standards scrypt and NaCl. All technical details concerning protocol and encryption are well-documented in the Cryptography Whitepaper.
The advantage of a simple and transparent security architecture is that it does not tempt users to fall into a false sense of security, and therefore users are less likely to choose passwords that are easy to guess or crack.
In order to use Threema Safe, you have to explicitly opt in. If you prefer to only store your data locally on your smartphone, you don’t have to upload a backup to any server whatsoever, and you can still use Threema without limitation.
With the Threema apps’ latest beta versions, Threema calls graduate to the audio-visual dimension. As is to be expected, video calls get the full Threema treatment in terms of privacy and security. And since video calls are inherently personal, they are particularly worthy of protection.
Video calls in Threema are fully end-to-end encrypted (not only audio and video, also signaling is end-to-end encrypted). In contrast to users of conventional services, Threema users can therefore rest assured that no one besides caller and callee – not even Threema as service provider – is able to access and view the video stream.
Thanks to Threema’s contact verification, Man-in-the-Middle attacks can be effectively prevented, and there’s no need to manually verify a code for the purpose of authentication. When communicating with “unknown” Threema IDs (red verification level), the connection is always established via Threema’s server. This way, one’s own IP address isn’t exposed to dubious contacts.
Of course, Threema’s principle of maximum metadata restraint also applies to video calls. It’s not required to provide any personally identifiable information, such as a phone number or email address, to place a call.
Excellent Image Quality and Intuitive Interface
Video calls provide the crystal-clear voice quality Threema users have become accustomed to from voice calls. The image quality is every bit as brilliant and automatically adapts to the available bandwidth.
Video transmission is an option of Threema calls that can be enabled at any time during an ongoing call. Once a Threema call is established, both parties can independently enable and disable video transmission by tapping the camera icon. This is to say that it’s possible to conduct one-way video calls.
The dynamic UI of video calls allows to return to the app and use it as usual while a video call is ongoing. Android users can even leave the app and continue video calls in picture-in-picture mode.
Participants of Threema’s beta program are able to start testing video calls today. To install the beta version of Threema for Android, scroll to the “Join the beta” section in the Threema listing on Google Play, and tap “Join.” Unfortunately, we cannot accept new iOS beta testers due to Apple’s TestFlight limits. We’re sorry about that.
Happy testing, we look forward to receiving your bug reports!
In times of home office and constant availability, it is increasingly difficult to protect one’s spare time against the intrusion of work. Thanks to the new off-hours policy in Threema Work for Android, there is now an efficient way to restore a healthy work–life balance.
Simply define your working hours in “Settings > Sound & Notifications > Do not disturb,” and you won’t be bothered with work issues after office hours. If your colleague from accounting calls while you’re off duty, the call will automatically be rejected. If the overzealous marketing manager sends text messages on the weekend, you won't notice because you don’t receive any notifications. Instead, you’ll spend your leisure time relaxed and free of work-related worries. And after your uninterrupted downtime, you’ll be even more productive when you start work rested and recharged on Monday morning.
The 4.3 update brings several useful new features and a host of additional emojis to Threema for Android. As usual, the update fixes some bugs, and it also contains various other improvements.
Built-in video camera
You can now record and trim videos right in the Threema app. Open a chat, and tap the camera icon in the text-input field to launch the camera. You still take pictures by tapping the shutter button. However, if you hold down the button, a video will be recorded.
To zoom, slide your finger up and down, and to stop recording, simply release the button. If you wish to trim the video before sending it, move the sliders to the desired start and end position.
Over 100 new emojis
Emoji fans now have even more ways to spice up their chat messages. Threema 4.3 for Android is equipped with more than 100 new emojis from the Unicode 12 standard, including a yawning smiley, mechanical extremities, and the much-beloved sloth.
This update packs several other new features and improvements. For example, automatic downloads can now also be enabled for files and videos, and the appearance of stickers and the audio-playback behavior have been optimized.
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.