Confirmed! Govt Creating Its Own Whatsapp-Type Chat App: Sandes; Beta Testing On Apple Store

Sandes and Samvad to be launched soon, offers end-to-end encryption

The Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MeITY) have confirmed the existence and development of 2 apps set to be pitted against Whatsapp and similar alternatives. Sandes (“message”) and Samvad (“conversation”) are already in the beta testing phase. 

Background 

The intent to develop and release an instant messaging application that is home made and grown has been brewing for years before the current controversies social media giants Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook find themselves embroiled in .

Whatsapp faced massive backlash earlier this year owing to its new privacy policy that revealed it would be releasing some user data to Facebook and that users could find their accounts deleted if they rejected it. This take it or leave it approach prompted the Supreme Court to intervene and demand answers as to why the same policy was exempted for European users but Indians were being forced to accept it. 

Zoom was also put under the scanner in April 2020 when the Ministry of Home Affairs advised its staff against using the app due to safety and privacy concerns. Government employee data was believed to have been compromised, an incident which further warmed the government to the idea of building its own substitute. 

Who Can Use Sandes

At present Sandes is available for use only by government employees who can log in with either their e-mail ID or phone number. Attempts to log in with non “@gov.in” e-mail IDs would face rejection by the app. 

Previously known as Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS) in its August 2020 iteration, National Informatics Centre (functioning under MeITY) launched the app aimed at confronting the anti-consumer practice of commercial use of private data. 

How It’s Different From Whatsapp

There are some key differences here to note. E-mail IDs can also be used to create an account with Sandes. Only a single phone number can be attached to an account, whereas in Whatsapp one can maintain their account while switching numbers. 

Chat backup options have more variety with Sandes offering user-preferred external locations unlike Whatsapp which offers backup in either Google Drive or Apple iCloud. 

Helmed as “our own, independent, and self-owned instant messaging service” Sandes offers a novel feature of placing a “confidential” tag on a message so as to warn users of sensitive content intended for private use only. 

However the transition from Whatsapp shouldn’t be too hard as the app also has basic features of group creation, broadcast messaging, forwarding feature, emojis, video call and multimedia sharing. 

Where It’s Available 

Sandes is available on the Apple App Store and for Android users it is available as an APK download on the GIMS portal. A wider launch on Google Play Store can be expected upon beta trial completion. 

80% Indians Ready To Quit Whatsapp Due To Privacy, learn more.

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