Signal Tests Sharing Public Usernames in Place of Phone Numbers

Encrypted messaging app Signal has announced it is testing public account usernames so that users don't have to share their phone number to connect through the service.

signal logo
Currently, signing up to Signal requires that you share your phone number with other users when connecting with them. While the new method still requires an account to be associated with a number during setup, it is not subsequently shared when contacting other users, making the communication even more private and secure.

According to Signal VP of engineering Jim O'Leary, the username test is currently limited to a separate build in the platform's Staging Environment and remains "pre-beta," so it may cause crashes and other bugs to occur since it fundamentally changes the way that accounts are identified in the Signal ecosystem.

Users who install the build will be able to share their usernames via a QR code or a link, allowing them to use it as a way for others to contact them, no phone number required. There is also an option to turn off phone number discovery in the app under Settings ➝ Privacy ➝ Phone number ➝ Who can find my number.

Signal has been working on usernames since at least 2019, but it is not known when the feature will be ready for primetime. Using the pre-beta build on desktop and iOS today requires some technical knowhow involving code compiling, more information about which can be found in the Signal forums.

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Top Rated Comments

tomnavratil Avatar
7 months ago
One of the best messaging apps out there especially when it comes to privacy and security. This will help with anonymity as well, which was certainly one of the drawbacks for wider adoption.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SW3029 Avatar
7 months ago
Baffled why more people don't use Signal. It's even more secure than iMessage – not to mention Messenger or WhatsApp.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
7 months ago
This feature wouldn’t be useful to me but, nice to see more privacy. I use the app to contact my employees and like it a lot.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kalafalas Avatar
7 months ago
I absolutely love signal, so happy to see them keep working on it!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bustycat Avatar
7 months ago
An IM app caring about privacy finally cares about privacy.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nealibob Avatar
7 months ago
Hopefully this means we'll eventually be able to use the same Signal account on multiple phones. This is a huge limitation compared to most other messaging platforms.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)