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Signal Offers Cross-Platform Mobile Message Encryption

Android and iOS users don't see eye-to-eye on which operating system is superior, but now they can argue amongst themselves via completely secure, encrypted text and voice conversations. Signal 2.0 for iOS lets you encrypt both voice and text conversations, and is intercompatible with its Android sister apps RedPhone and TextSecure.

This news comes from the official Open Whisper Systems blog. The company, headed up by security maven Moxie Marlinspike, produces all three secure-messaging apps. Although previous iterations of the Signal app allowed iOS users to talk and text securely amongst themselves, this is the first time they have been able to communicate with Android users with total end-to-end encryption.

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Signal is a free app, which sets it apart from similar, but subscription-based, cross-platform messaging services. Without delving into too many technical details, Signal, RedPhone and TextSecure generate temporary encryption keys on a per-message basis, which means that only you and your conversation partner (or partners; the apps allow group texts) can read or listen to them. A third party cannot intercept your messages, nor can Open Whisper Systems decode them.

Security diehards will also be pleased to learn that the project is entirely open-source, meaning that they can check the code themselves and tweak it if they so desire.

At present, Signal 2.0 on iOS is arguably even more convenient than its Android counterparts, since you can make calls and send texts from the same app rather than using two separate ones. It's unclear whether Open Whisper Systems intends to merge its two apps on Android.

Either way, there is now a complete, free, encrypted ecosystem to send messages, photos or voice calls between the two most popular smartphone platforms. If you want to make absolutely certain that no one is listening in on your conversations, it's worth a shot.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.