Your friend is probably using Signal!
ICYMI LibreSignal was Signal without Google. Until Moxie Marlinspike killed it with this comment. One day when I had way too much time on my hands and was in need of my nerd-drama fix, I read nearly all zillion pages of that thread. I’ll spare you from having to do the same.
At the risk of presuming to know what motivates Marlinspike personally (and without knowing much of his life story), the thread sounded a lot like the age-old tale: Revolutionary gets old. Revolutionary gets rich. Revolutionary wants mass market acceptance. In all fairness, however you feel about moxie0’s present level of idealism, it’s hard to deny that there is truth to his contention: that software that gets most of the technical details right that gets used is better than software that gets all of the technical details right but doesn’t get used.
Some of moxie0’s points are best stated using his own words:
Besides allowing for simple identifiers (like phone numbers), non-federation has major benefits:
XMPP is stuck in time. Making any changes to a federated protocol is very difficult, which is why it still resembles the late 1990s. It’s also why we’ll never have usable end to end encrypted email. Services that control their own clients and infrastructure can iterate quickly, federated clients and servers can not.
On distributed communications:
We’re trying to make mass surveillance impossible for the world we live in, not a fantasy land inhabited only by cryptonerds and moralists. This is the world we live in: people do most of their communication on mobile devices running iOS or Android, use Chrome on the desktop, and expect contact discovery to be automatic in their social apps. The browser has won the desktop, iOS and Android have won mobile, and the velocity of the ecosystem is unlikely to make “distributed” communication mechanisms possible for some time.
And a nice reply from eighthave of the Guardian Project:
@moxie0 We at Guardian Project applaud your work at making crypto easier to use, but don’t forget we are targeting different problems. As you said, Whisper Systems only cares about mass surveillance. We are definitely focused on targeted surveillance as well. Add in federation to the equation as an essential piece to circumvent blocking, and that makes it a lot harder to make easy-to-use software. ChatSecure works in China, which is part of the reason why we are funded, while Signal has been blocked for a while, and most devices there do not have Google on them. Federation is an important part of why ChatSecure still works in China. If you focus on the easiest part of the problem, then it becomes a lot easier to focus on a simple user experience. Focusing OWS on countries that don’t block internet services, avoiding mass surveillance, and requiring Google makes your problem space a lot smaller.
Perhaps, it’s agreeable enough to say that everyone has their own problem space that they are trying to resolve. As long as projects don’t misrepresent themselves or set unrealistic expectations, it’s fine to have solutions to different problems.