XMPP, Extensible Messaging and presence Protocol (originally named Jabber), is a set of standart and open protocols for instant messaging and presence information. This protocol also enables the decentralized and real-time exchange of multimedia content such as file sharing, IP telephony or video conferencing.
Therefore XMPP is not an application strictly speaking, but a set of protocols used by instant messaging clients. You have to know that WhatApp uses a customized version of XMPP.
Thus, to work, XMPP needs a client and a server. This is a decentralized architecture, which means tha the services do not depend on a single point but can be made up of several servers.
XMPP vs WhatApp
WhatApp made the headlines earlier this year regarding its controversial new terms of service. Indeed, the compagny threatened to not longer provide access to its services if these conditions were refused. These would allow it to share more data with its parent compagny Facebook. The messages saty secured (end to end encryption) but the profil’s contacts and profil will be exploited in a commercial purpose ( like the targeted advertising). Futhermore the user is identified by his mobile number.
For the XMPP applications ( with the code open source) they do not use an login allowing to be identified you personally ( unless you indicate your name in your id !! ). The login is presented in the form of your_id@name_of_the_server. There are many XMPP servers (jabber) which offer free services ( https://list.jabber.at/ ).
Les clients XMPP
You can find a lot of XMPP client for all platforms ( Windows, linux, Android, IOS, etc). Below a list of the most well-knows:
|Aparté||BSD / Linux / macOS|
|AstraChat||Android / iOS / Linux / macOS / Windows|
|BeagleIM by Tigase, Inc.||macOS|
|Bruno the Jabber™ Bear||Android|
|ChatSecure||iOS / macOS|
|eM Client||macOS / Windows|
|Gajim||Linux / Windows|
|Movim||Android / Browser / Linux / macOS / Windows|
|Poezio||Linux / macOS|
|Profanity||Linux / macOS / Windows|
|Psi||Linux / macOS / Windows|
|Psi+||Linux / macOS / Windows|
|Salut à Toi||Android / Browser / Linux / Other|
|SiskinIM by Tigase, Inc.||iOS|
|Spark||Linux / macOS / Windows|
|StorkIM by Tigase, Inc. (Tigase Messenger for Android)||Android|
|Swift||Linux / macOS / Windows|
And the others alternatives?
Of course you have not been certainly not missing out the “competitors” such as Telegram or Signal. If you decide to use their services, you have to trust them. For Telegram, communications are end-to-end encrypted, the client’s source code is open but the server code remains proprietary Regarding Signal (popularized by Edward Snowden), two problems can arise. First of all, like WhatApp, Signal requires you to communicate a phone number, which can pose a problem of anonymity. Then, it is not a decentralized architecture, therefor it is necessary to go through the Signal servers. Let’s not forget the French Olvid. This corrects the problem of anonymity (no phone number, metadata encryption).
The ideal, install your own server
The ultimate solution to manage the protection of your personal data with an instant messaging application is to be able to install your own server (or several for redundancy of failures). For use with family or friends, the price of VPS (Private virtual server) remains affordable (be careful with the location of the host anyway). For the implementation within a company, 2-3 virtual machines or even containers do not cost much nowadays. In both cases the difficulty remains the technical competence for setting up the XMPP server and, like any services exposed on the Internet, its security.
If you are interested in the protection of your personal data, XMPP remains the solution to use. Whether with your own server or with a host that respects your privacy, it represents the alternative to leading applications in the market. Still unknown to the general public, it deserves our full attention and I hope to see its popularity grow.