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Tox - The Secure Instant Messenger Of The Future?

5 years ago  •  Reviews

A New Kind of Instant Messaging

“With the rise of government monitoring programs, Tox provides an easy to use application that allows you to connect with friends and family without anyone else listening in. While other big-name services require you to pay for features, Tox is totally free, and comes without advertising.”

Software like Tox is becoming more and more relevant in a world where shady governments spy on their citizens and collect data about everyone in huge amounts. Not only can this personal information be used against you, it is also sold to various corporations to better force advertisement on to you.

How does Tox help against that? Simple! It is a Peer-to-Peer, encrypted, instant messenger, that allows you to communicate with other people, just like Skype, Facebook Messenger and others do. Except, Tox is encrypted, which means no one else can listen in on your conversations.

Centralised vs. Decentralised vs. Distributed Network

Since Tox is Peer-to-Peer, there is no central server that will keep track of your conversations, limit your usage or have downtimes that can prevent you from getting in contact with friends or family. Tox is truly a distributed (meshed) instant messenger!

So what are the trade-offs and why do I care about encryption and privacy when I’m not really doing anything illegal? Let’s first do a little comparison between some of the popular instant messengers.

Comparison Skype Facebook Telegram Viber Tox
Open Source No No Partial No Yes
Encryption No No Partial No Yes
Distributed No No No No Yes
Video Chat Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Voice Chat Yes Yes No Yes Yes
File Sharing Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Synchronisation Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Ads Yes Yes No No No
Desktop App Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Web App No Yes Yes No Yes
Platforms Windows, Linux, OSX, Android, iOS Android, iOS, WP Windows, Linux, OSX, Android, iOS, WP Windows, Linux, OSX, Android, iOS, WP Windows, Linux, OSX, Androud, iOS

So there’s obviously a lot of ups and downs when it comes to all these different instant messengers and these 5 are just a few among the countless of instant messengers out there! The biggest one for me, personally, is open source and the usage of a distributed (meshed) network. I love open source and I believe it’s what we need more of in the world. Not just when it comes to software, but food, medicine, technology. You name it. The easier access, the better the world will be.

qTox Group Chat

Anyway, so why care about privacy, encryption and even distributed (meshed) networks, instead of just using centralisation? Imagine a world where a computer collects every little detail about you. Whatever you do, something is logging everything you do on the internet. This is called “data mining” and there is countless of companies out there that specialize in just that. Without your consent, they collect every little piece of information about you and sell it to the highest bidder. Luckily, this information is mostly only used to target ads at you, but data can easily be stolen or misused...

Okay, rant over. So what makes Tox a better alternative? If you are concerned about your privacy, love cryptography, new technology and want to fight against centralisation, then I guess Tox is a pretty good choice.

qTox Encryption Of Personal Data

It got pretty much everything you need, except it’s still in early development. Which means, it doesn’t synchronise your conversations between devices, it uses a lot of bandwidth, so do not use it on your limited mobile bandwidth and you can’t message your contacts or add new contacts, unless they are online. Adding contacts in general, can also be very tedious, as you will need to know a very long ID. There is no way to add someone by username or e-mail, unless you use something like toxme.se.

Some of these faults are being worked on though. Like synchronised conversations, but Tox really is in a very early stage in development. So keep that in mind!