While WhatsApp might be the talk of the day, many users on Google Play do complain about taking pictures without permission or automatic shared file downloads. Obviously FB doesn’t bother about your privacy. However, there is another open source free Android app that does and offers you more peace of mind, Kontalk. Capabilities:
- Even in server-to-client communication, your phone number is irreversibly encrypted, so Kontalk can’t possibly know your phone number (it is used only for sending you the verification code, than it will be discarded)
- Messages and data are encrypted
- Hide your presence
- Kontalk brings to you the reliability of a distributed network of servers and the safety of cryptography
- What’s more, you can even setup your own messaging server with Kontalk
- Send and receive messages for free with other Kontalk users (carrier fees for Internet traffic may apply)
- Kontalk uses your phone number to identify yourself and automatically adds other Kontalk users you can talk with by looking in your contact list
- You can send any text messages and image (other media types coming soon)
- Multiple devices support: every incoming message will be sent to all registered devices
- Shared files are not downloaded to your device automatically
- Open source
Kontalk is still under heavy development. It has a few glitches and needs more finesse in some areas. In case of India it sends a Cell Broadcast message with the verification code (more information here). So you may have to allow CB messages from the settings of your Messaging app to receive the message.
On Google Play: kontalk
[Courtesy: Jester Raiin]
When it comes to IM clients there are many multi-platform options off late. My favourite for example, is Pidgin. Recently we found Jitsi, an instant messaging client that works on the XMPP and SIP protocols. Jitsi is written in JAVA. Features:
- High-quality voice and video calls using SIP and XMPP
- Encrypt your calls using ZRTP and SRTP technologies
- Supports SIP, XMPP, Facebook, Google Talk, MSN, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo
- Registrarless SIP account for LAN conferencing
- Stylish look and feel
- Supports Linux, Windows, Mac. Client for Android on the way
- Free and open source
[Courtesy: Jester Raiin]
Two online services for anonymous P2P chat that renders the need for a server to relay the messages kaput.
- Chatstep: Awesome interface with different colours for up to 50 people. Drag and drop images and files to share. Optional sounds and timestamps. Download transcript when ending the chat to keep a record.
- Chatcrypt: Strong AES-256 encryption in CTR mode and complete anonymity. Supports creating chat rooms that others participants can join. Each participant has to enter a password to join the chat at a later time. The password and room has to be same for participants. As all the messages are encrypted, only participants in the same room knowing the password can only see the decoded messages.
- BitTorrent Chat: From the creators of BitTorrent. Still in Alpha stage and you may have to wait for a while after signing up to be invited into the community. You can chat privately as messages aren’t stored on any server. The service uses an encrypted P2P network and is free of cost.
- CifraChat: Generates a random chat room every time. Can send encrypted messages with a code and a hint to decode. Messages will get auto deleted after 2 wrong decode attempts.
- QOTR: Quick anonymous chat links with 256-bit AES encryption. The messages are encrypted in the browser so that the server cannot read them.
If you want to setup your own Instant Messaging server for home network or organization Openfire is an excellent option. It uses the popular open protocol XMPP and is written in Java. The client application is Spark. Openfire also supports the openfire-jappix plugin for in-browser audio-video conferencing using WebRTC. Features:
- Multiplatform (Linux, Windows, Mac)
- Easy to setup and administer users and settings
- Industry standard security and performance
- Group chat
- Telephony integration
- Audio-video support using openfire-jappix
- Drag and drop file transfer with progress bar
- Spell checks
- and many more features available in standard IM servers and clients
To try it out check the installation guide for Openfire.
Webpage: Openfire, Spark, openfire-jappix
Tox is a very fresh project and is not ready or available for download at the time of writing. But it looks very promising by the features it is supposed to come with. It is open source, attempts to be an alternative to gtalk, skype etc. and finally, it promises complete security from any kind of snooping. The look and feel is amazing! Will support messaging, calls and video conferencing. Though it will come with industry standard encryption it will be easy enough for anyone to use out of the box. Will be waiting!
Each user ho signs up will be assigned a Tox ID. You can publicly list the ID if you wish. Excited? Get your Tox ID.
Tox is multiplatform and will support Linux, Windows and Mac.
Employees in every office need instant messaging to communicate. How about a jazzy one with stunning looks? OneTeam is a top-notch enterprise level solution for instant messaging with lots of exciting features:
- Text, voice and video call support
- File transfers
- Multiplatform + Firefox support
- Conference rooms
- XMPP compliance
- Polished GUI
- Free other than the iPhone client
I was looking for a over-the-LAN instant messaging app on Ubuntu to use at home. A port of good old ipmsg is available but the interface is too dated. After trying a few more options I found iptux. It has a polished interface, the chat window is modern and can be minimized to the system tray. It supports both chat and file transfers. A good way to communicate if you have several users on the same wifi. Available in Synaptic.
To show the iptux icon in the system tray I added it in the systray whitelist:
# gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist
"['Pidgin', 'Dropbox', 'qbittorrent', 'iptux']"
To share files over LAN as well as the internet try BaShare.