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Ditch Your Data-Hungry Apps for These Privacy-Focused Swaps

Most of us are so used to the apps we rely on, it’s easy to stop thinking about how they work and what they do with our data. Most free services make their money from ads, and that means collecting data about our likes, our online activities, and our app usage.

There are better options: apps that will keep your data safe from unwelcome visitors and eager advertisers. And they might fit into your daily routine more easily than you expect.

Of course, Apple and Google take different approaches to user privacy—Apple makes money by selling hardware, whereas Google makes money selling ads, and that requires a lot of data collection and profiling. Even though Google promises to keep your actual personal data private, it does sell ads against the profile it creates.

By comparison, a lot of Apple’s apps are already fairly well locked down from a privacy standpoint: Safari, Mail, Apple Maps, and so on. However, we’ve avoided both Apple and Google in this rundown to give you options across multiple devices and platforms.

Signal for Messaging

signal screenshot
Screenshot: David Nield via Signal

You have a number of apps to choose for text messaging, but few are as security-focused as Signal (Android, iOS) while also working across multiple platforms with ease. As you would expect, end-to-end encryption is baked in as standard, and there’s also a disappearing-messages option so you leave no trail behind.

While Signal might not be bursting with quite as many options and features as some of the other instant messengers in app stores, it does support voice and video calls, as well as group chats, file transfers, audio clips, and the all-important GIFs. Your biggest problem with the app might be convincing everyone in your contacts list to switch over to it, but we have a whole guide to Signal here to help you make the case.

Firefox for Web Browsing

screenshot of firefox setting and WIRED's homepage
Screenshot: David Nield via Firefox