Hi everyone, I’ve been heavily researching secure chat apps during the past year or so. I almost immediately discarded Delta Chat when I ran across it because I understood the basic model but immediately thought about a lot of potential issues that could come into play. But today Pocketnow-dot-com had an interesting article about Delta Chat that made me start seriously considering it again. But I still have some questions and thoughts:
First of all, I should start by saying that I live and breathe email. I have been a multiple-account Gmail user since it was still an invitation-only beta service. I’m also a heavy desktop computer user, and only use mobile devices when I don’t have access to my desktop. I constantly have Thunderbird running in my system tray, and I use my email accounts to store all sorts of important data that I need to refer back to at some point in time. I’ve always viewed chats and instant messaging as a sort of secondary separate data store. So my first concern about Delta Chat is clutter if I were to use it with one of my primary email accounts. The messages that Delta Chat sends are completely normal messages that would appear in my normal Inbox, correct? And wouldn’t my Thunderbird new message indicator be constantly notifying me about incoming chats?
Also, in your experience with Delta Chat, have any of you run into issues at some point with SMTP outgoing message limits? And specifically with Gmail, I’m concerned that I might have the same authentication issues that eventually made me stop using Pidgin with Google’s XMPP service, as it was constantly making Google’s security monitor freak out and required manual CAPTCHA verification of my Google account and sometimes even interfered with Thunderbird’s IMAP access until an arbitrary timeout period had passed. I’ve never had these issues when using just Thunderbird to access Gmail over IMAP, so maybe it was just a Pidgin/XMPP specific thing, but I wanted to ask about your experiences in this respect.
Would you recommend any particular free email provider for long-term usage with Delta Chat?
How does the Autocrypt encryption standard compare to Signal’s encryption protocol, which is generally considered to be the gold standard?
How does anonymity compare between Signal and Delta Chat in terms of governments being able to discover relationships between users that are messaging each other? I read the FAQ but I didn’t quite understand it:
Each mail server currently knows about who sent and who received a message by inspecting the unencrypted To/Cc headers and thus determine which e-mail addresses are part of a group. Delta Chat itself could avoid unencrypted To/Cc headers quite and always put them only into the encrypted section.
Why the word “could”? And does anything change in the above paragraph in the case of 1:1 non-group chats?
I’m currently a happy Element + Matrix user for communicating with a very small circle of friends that are willing to make the investment of time in learning about its technical intricacies. And I think Matrix is a fantastic solution in terms of data security as well as sustainability, since it’s a federated system with open source server and clients. But the whole concept of Matrix is impossibly confusing for most users that are not technically inclined. I personally don’t use Signal (and much less WhatsApp or Telegram) because I don’t agree with the “walled garden” single-point-of-failure data silo approach, and especially not when the account depends on an ephemeral phone number. So I definitely see a place for Delta Chat as a complement for Matrix. Does anybody here have any experiences with Delta Chat and non-technical users who might be willing to download a new chat app but aren’t willing or able to go through much additional effort to make it work?
Finally, I see voice/video calls as critically important functionality. I gather that it current just sends a link to whatever service is defined by the user? Is Jitsi Meet set by default, or is there any default defined for this? And then the link opens externally just like any other link? Would there be any way to integrate WebRTC functionality into Delta Chat itself? Again, thinking about non-technical users, who unfortunately are usually on a mobile device these days, they wouldn’t be able to just open a Jitsi link without first downloading the mobile app and giving it camera/mic permissions and all that. It would be one less barrier if WebRTC functionality was wrapped into Delta Chat itself, even if it’s still technically an external service like Jitsi, similar to how Element works. This would even allow for desktop sharing, which is an occasional but extremely important feature that I use with my contacts in Element/Matrix to give them technical support.
Sorry for the long first post. Thanks for this sensible and well thought-out alternative messaging solution!