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When social media giant Facebook (now Meta) purchased everyone’s favorite mobile messaging app WhatsApp, users were promised their data would be private and that they wouldn’t be subject to the shady things that Mark Zuckerberg and crew are known for. As time has gone on, more and more privacy has been taken away from Whatsapp users in the name of “analytical data.”

Key Features of a Good WhatsApp Alternative

There are a couple of main features of WhatsApp that we’re looking to see replicated in these alternatives. One is that they have to feel like modern, clean chat clients. Another important aspect is that these apps should offer calling (video and voice). This is primarily why so many people flock to WhatsApp for their communication needs. Over the years the Facebook-owned app has turned into a sort of FaceTime for Android users. It’s also favored by those making calls outside the US.

While WhatsApp has encryption, with Facebook in the equation it’s difficult to tell exactly what they have access to. Taking these factors into consideration, in this post we take a look at some cleanly designed chat clients with calling and true end-to-end encryption.

1. Element

In the open source community, people are generally very conscious of their privacy. So they will often look in the source code to make sure the software they’re relying on is safe to use.

Setup is simple — register right from the app without a phone number (a huge plus if you don’t have access to one). The app options are pretty transparent, and desktop clients are also available. For the FOSS-to-the-hilt user, we happily recommend Element.

2. Wire

Image source: Google Play Store

We should mention here that both Proteus and the Wire app have been publicly audited, which is something not too many other apps can brag about. When it comes to voice and video calls, end-to-end encryption is provided via DTLS with a SRTP handshake. This retains message integrity and prevents eavesdropping and tampering.

As for features for daily use, Wire packs all the right stuff. This includes things like group video calling, screen sharing, and self-destructing messages. The app can be accessed for free for personal use, but for a business account you have to pay.

3. Telegram

Image source: Google Play Store

Plus, it essentially has comparable features like voice and video messages, a phone number-based login system, stickers, emojis, chat bots, groups, channels and so much more. Along with those cool features, you can integrate it with your digital assistant on your smartphone.

The best thing is, you can easily import your WhatsApp chat over to Telegram. Also, you can use Telegram on the web or directly on your Windows, Mac, or Linux desktop. Most importantly, Telegram supports end-to-end encryption for secret chats and calls, as well as two-step verification.

4. Signal

Signal strikes the perfect balance of private and still fun to use. If you’re looking for an alternative to WhatsApp, Signal offers most of the features you’d expect including 2FA, disappearing messages, and secure communication verification.

In this age of Internet privacy, it’s becoming increasingly clear that if there is no product, you and your data are the product. That’s why it’s more important than ever to take your privacy back into your own hands, starting with apps like these.

5. Wickr Me 6. Delta Chat

This is how Delta Chat allows you to message virtually everyone, you just need their email address. The recipients of your texts don’t need to use Delta Chat themselves and can reply to you directly from email. You will then see their replies in Delta Chat. Pretty convenient, right?

Image source: Google Play Store

Delta looks like a regular chat app (although the interface is not as modern as in other cases), but the good news is that it does not involve centralized tracking and control. There are no Delta servers where users’ private information could be uploaded.

The app sets up end-to-end encryption automatically when a chat starts. This not only works between Delta Chat apps, but also with other email apps (provided they support Autocrypt Level 1 encryption standard).

Users can add as many accounts to Delta Chat as they want and can even use the app without a phone number. It’s definitely worth a try.

7. Conversations

Conversations (Android) is a messaging and VoIP app that actually makes you pay money to use it. While paying a couple of bucks for an app may seem strange in this day and age, if your main concern is privacy, then that’s literally the price you pay for it, given that “free” apps tend to rely on your data to a greater or lesser degree to make money.

Image source: Google Play Store

Conversations is a free and open-source app based on the Jabber/XMPP protocols. The company uses its own XMPP server and promises to “never upload data to the developer.” The fact that the app is open source means that anyone can go on GitHub to see what’s contained in the code (e.g. any dodgy privacy issues) and make contributions themselves. It’s an app committed to being open.

You don’t need to use a Google account or phone number here, and it demands very few of your permissions (though of course will require camera and microphone access if you want to use its video and voice features). It is very easy on the battery, too!

8. Threema

With Threema, your metadata is kept to a minimum. For instance, the app notes that it doesn’t keep records of who exchanges messages with whom. Threema access requires a one time $3.99 payment, which is not a large sum if you truly value your privacy.

Frequently Asked Questions How can I hold on to my WhatsApp conversations?

You can export your WhatsApp chat history in .txt format from the app. If you’re switching to a WhatsApp alternative, check if it allows you to import your chats from WhatsApp. Telegram is one app that has this feature.

What are the dangers of using WhatsApp?

One of the primary issues with the popular messaging app is that it’s now owned by Meta (formerly Facebook) and so suffers many of the same privacy dangers as its parent company. This is perhaps one of the chief reasons why a large number of users have chosen to migrate to different platforms.

With Meta and its dubious practices aside, WhatsApp still suffers from other security risks. For instance, WhatsApp Web can be a rich ground for cybercriminal activity such as hackers passing off malicious software as WhatsApp desktop applications. Besides that, WhatsApp is known to have been implicated in the spread of fake news and information in various regions across the world. Fortunately, the company did implement a few changes meant to discourage these practices such as putting limits on forwarding. Even so, the possibility of getting random messages of a dubious nature still looms.

Image credit: Unsplash

Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

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The Best Xiaomi Mi Band 8 Alternatives

Xiaomi’s newest Mi Band 8 boasts the same core feature set as its predecessor, plus a few upgrades. However, it’s not yet available globally. More importantly, when the fitness tracker does hit shelves near you, it won’t be the only option. We round up the best Xiaomi Mi Band 8 alternatives to consider before you check out.

Budget devices have come a long way from their stripped-down beginnings. Now you can find a reliable wearable packed with features without breaking the bank. To find the right pick for you, consider your preferred ecosystem as well as your top priorities in terms of training features.

The best Xiaomi Mi Band 8 alternatives

Fitbit Inspire 3: For basic activity tracking, Fitbit’s ecosystem is hard to beat. The Inspire 3 is a great value device backed by a powerful platform.

Huawei Band 7: Huawei continues to give Xiaomi a run for its money. Though Huawei launched a Band 8, it’s not readily available everywhere, so we still recommend shopping for a Huawei Band 7.

Huami Amazfit Band 7: Another budget brand worth considering is the Amazfit lineup. The Amazfit Band 7 offers key fitness-tracking, Amazon Alexa, and SpO2 monitoring.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7 Pro: As of yet, the Xiaomi Mi Band 8 is without a pricier counterpart. For now, the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 Pro remains the best alternative for a Pro moniker.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7: We can also still make a strong case for the previous generation Xiaomi Mi Band. The Mi Band 7 performed well in testing and, in light of the new generation, it’s likely to go on sale.

Garmin Vivosmart 5: Though pricey, the Vivosmart 5 is the best alternative for Garmin’s training tools.

Apple Watch SE 2: Likewise, the most affordable device from Apple’s current lineup is an expensive but powerful Xiaomi Mi Band 8 alternative.

Colorful screen with optional always-on display

Incredible battery life

Detailed and fun sleep tracking

Continuous SpO2 monitoring

Excellent companion app

Great value


No NFC for digital payments

Connected GPS only

Fitbit Premium subscription required for full feature set

Huawei Band 7

Huawei Band 7

Affordable price point • AMOLED display • Solid tracking suite

MSRP: $64.99

An attractive tracker at an incredibly low price

The Huawei Band 7 offers the full gamut of basic fitness tracking plus blood oxygen readings, heart rate tracking, and sleep monitoring. It’s a thin, light fitness tracker with an impressive display for such a low cost.

See price at Amazon



For health tracking, the Amazfit Band 7 features an optical heart rate sensor as well as a blood oxygen sensor. It can alert users to abnormal heart rates or to low SpO2 levels. It also offers activity tracking for more than 120 sports modes.

Beyond the gym, the Amafit Band supports voice commands for Amazon Alexa, a currently missing feature on globally available Xiaomi bands. Most importantly though, the Amazfit Band 7 costs less than $50.

Elegant, smartwatch-style design

Larger, equally high-quality display

Robust workout and health tracking

Reasonably accurate built-in GPS

Solid battery life


No NFC on global model

Inconsistent sleep tracking

Limited “Pro” smart features

Mi Fitness app needs work

Xiaomi Mi Band 7

Xiaomi Mi Band 7

Bigger, brighter display • Accurate resting heart rate • Continuous SpO2 monitoring

MSRP: $46.30

A budget band that delivers more than it’s price tag might suggest

A long battery life, bright always-on display, and impressive health and activity tracking smarts make this affordable tracker a great pick for anyone on a budget. Xiaomi’s Mi Band 7 delivers more than 100 sport modes, plus continuous SpO2 monitoring. You can even personalize your device with tons of animated watch faces.

See price at Amazon




Bigger, brighter display

Accurate resting heart rate

Continuous SpO2 monitoring

Comically huge number of sport modes

Fun new band colors

Slightly more expensive, still amazing value


No built-in GPS

No NFC or voice assistant on global model

Inconsistent sleep tracking

Confusing app situation

Accurate heart rate sensor

Solid fitness tracking

Increased screen size

Swappable bands

Plenty of tracking features with no paywalls


No built-in GPS

No contactless payment support

Underwhelming monochrome display

Hard to read display outdoors

Overpriced for what you get

Great value, priced lower than original model

Speedy S8 processor

Handy Low Power Mode

Color-matched back panel

A lot to like in watchOS 9

Much improved sleep tracking


Still no always-on display

Limited screen real estate

No SpO2 sensor

Paypal Alternatives That Let You Shop Around

Ever gone out to a fancy restaurant with friends, only to find that someone lacked the cash to pay their share? Is writing a paper check to a relative (say, a kid in college) a hassle?

Person-to-Person Payments

Popmoney, which debuted late last year, and ZashPay, which arrived this summer, work much like PayPal: For payments, you need only the recipient’s e-mail address or mobile phone number. One important difference: PayPal lets you send and receive payments only via your account with PayPal. To make a payment, you must first fund your account (through a linked bank account or credit card); to receive a payment, you must transfer it to the bank or credit card in order to use it for anything other than a PayPal purchase.

Popmoney and ZashPay simply transfer money directly from your bank account to the account of the person you’re paying (neither service supports credit cards). This process resembles the one used in electronic bill payments–and in fact, both services are offshoots of companies (Cash Edge in the case of Popmoney, and Fiserv in the case of ZashPay) that manage bill payment services for banks.

Both sender and recipient must have accounts on these services, but the services don’t tie up any money–they just associate your existing bank account with your e-mail address or your cell phone number.

If your bank offers either service, it will set up your account automatically–no need to provide additional info. Cash Edge says that some 175 banks already offer Popmoney; Fiserv says that ZashPay had about 70 banks on board as of early October.

Otherwise, you can still use these services to receive cash by signing up for a personal account on a service’s Website–but you must provide sensitive information, including your date of birth, Social Security number, and the accounting and routing numbers for the linked bank account. You must then go through a verification process, which involves waiting for the service to deposit two small (under $1) sums to your account and then reporting the exact amounts received.


Pros: Account setup on PopMoney site is free, as is receiving money. Some 175 banks offer free accounts to customers.


Since our bank doesn’t offer ZashPay, we set up an account for the service online, which took a few days–including waiting for the small verification deposits to appear in the bank account. All we had to do to make a payment was provide the recipient’s e-mail address and the amount we wished to send. When we received a payment, the service notified us via e-mail (you’ll get a text message if you set up your mobile phone). Turnaround time was one to two days.

Cons: Creating an account involves a verification process that requires you to supply lots of personal information. ZashPay doesn’t yet have as many banks on board as PopMoney–about 70 as of early October.

Other Upstarts

Other personal payment services are AlertPay and Obopay, which work on the same basic model as PayPal: You must set up and fund an account that makes and receives payments. Obopay offers strong support for mobile devices. AlertPay serves some people that PayPal does not, accepting additional funding sources such as money orders, and letting you send money to more than 190 countries.

Will people quit writing checks (or carrying lots of cash) and use these services instead? In order for that to happen, says Jim Bruene, who tracks online finance in his NetBanker blog, making payments has to become “as easy as pulling out a $20 bill.”

Next page: Business-focused services, and which to choose

8 Best Kodi Alternatives You Should Check Out

Kodi is the talk of the Web and with good reason. It’s easily the most robust, most flexible media center out there, allowing you to do everything from managing your in-home media library to using add-ons to stream content from all over the world. There’s nothing quite like it, yet sometimes it’s good to have an alternative.

After all, the Kodi interface isn’t great, and sometimes you have to do quite a bit of tweaking to get the best out of it. Whether you’re looking to stream stuff from the Internet or from other devices in your home, in this article we’ll go over the best Kodi alternatives across the three major platforms: macOS, Windows and Linux.

1. Kokotime

Platform: Android

One of the more fresh-faced media centers, Kokotime is a dedicated Android app that lets you browse files on your home network, peruse your playlists, and stream it all to your Android device (or indeed any device that your Android is streaming to).

Kokotime does a great job of organizing the media stored on your network, be it by genre or the rating you gave it. It has Chromecast support too, but actually goes one better with a feature called Universal Cast which is capable of streaming media from your storage devices to your phone or to any output devices connected to your network.

Even though it’s fairly young, Kokotime has a decent repertoire of third-party add-ons that’s only likely to increase over time. Impressive.

2. Universal Media Server

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

This app has a simple presentation, letting you stream media between different devices and even software within those devices such as web browsers. Universal Media Server has DLNA support as well as alternative streaming options for non-DLNA devices and is capable of streaming (and quickly transcoding) content between computers, games consoles, and smart TVs.

It’s not the easiest software to set up, but once you get there, the whole process of consolidating your media is nice and smooth. It has a small but solid selection of plugins, and more tech-savvy users can even configure it for web streaming.


Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

If you don’t want to stray too far from the Kodi you’ve familiarized yourself with over the years but just want something a little more open and versatile, then the Open Source Media Center (OSMC) is a no-brainer. It’s actually an entire Linux distro based on Kodi, bringing a modified version of the Kodi front end to a number of platforms that wouldn’t be able to have it by default, such as Raspberry Pi and Apple TV.

It has a slightly different interface to the default one that ships with Kodi with a nice radial menu home screen that points you to all the features of OSMC, which include live TV, local library streaming, TV tuner support, and, of course, support for all the wonderful Kodi addons you could dream of.

4. Plex

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS

It is impossible to talk about alternatives to Kodi without mentioning Plex. This software makes it easy to have a centralized solution that can manage your media just like Kodi. The benefit to Plex is that it runs from a server instead of from a dedicated PC or appliance. Media can be accessed and streamed from the web and several different operating systems via apps.

Plex is the perfect alternative, as it can run on all sorts of servers, not just Linux. Officially, it supports Linux, macOS, Windows and even FreeBSD server operating systems.

5. Emby

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Emby has long been considered the open-source alternative to Plex Media Server. Like Plex, Emby runs on a server and has official support for Mac, Windows, Linux and BSD server operating systems. Media can be accessed via the web interface or by many of the Emby apps available for mobile and even game consoles.

If you’ve tried Plex as an alternative to Kodi but want to try something else, consider giving Emby a try.

6. Stremio

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS

Stremio is a local media center program for Mac, Linux and Windows that supports playback of live TV and local media. Features include support for add-ons, auto-detect subtitles, and “instant HD playback,” as well as the ability to broadcast media via DLNA to the Apple TV, Chromecast and other devices. If you prefer a centralized media center like Kodi but need a solid alternative, give this software a try. You won’t regret it!

7. MediaPortal

Platform: Windows

Media Portal is a Windows-only media center that operates very similarly to Kodi. Like Kodi, users can tune into live TV, record live TV, and install plugins. Additionally, the software can be customized with different skins as well as handle multiple types of media (music, photos, etc.). If you’re a Windows user and are in need of a good media center alternative, this software should be your first stop.

8. Usher

Platform: Mac

Looking for a good media management system for macOS? Try Usher. This software makes media management easy on the Mac, as it can handle your iTunes library as well as your photos and other media libraries on the system. A lot of the media solutions on this list are packed full of features. Things like add-ons, DLNA, and mobile support are nice but not essential. Usher is for those just looking for an easy way to manage and watch media on the Mac and little else.


Kodi is on a lot of PCs, tablets, and even hobby boards like the Raspberry Pi. Still, this software isn’t for everyone. Some might find that it is a bit lacking in terms of looks or features. That’s why it’s so important to shed light on some quality Kodi alternatives. From Plex to Media Portal, for those looking to get off of Kodi and onto something else, this list has you covered.

What’s your favorite Kodi alternative? Tell us below!

This article was first published in March 2023 and was updated in June 2023.

Image credit: gsloan

Robert Zak

Content Manager at Make Tech Easier. Enjoys Android, Windows, and tinkering with retro console emulation to breaking point.

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How To Hide Your Online Status On Whatsapp

Last Updated on May 15, 2023

WhatsApp has the worlds leading messaging platform with over 2 billion users. For many users privacy is a major concern and one of the many ways in which you can increase your privacy is by choosing to hide your online status.

This article will go over what your online status actually is and the ways in which you can hide it below.

What does online status on WhatsApp mean?

the last online status appears next to your profile picture when someone opens a chat with you. It can be either ‘online’ or ‘offline’ and shows whether you are available to chat or not.

Why Hide Online Status your online status on WhatsApp?

When using Whatsapp for Android, iPhone, or desktop hiding your online status can help you stay private and prevent people from messaging you when you don’t want them to.

How to hide your online status on WhatsApp

Below we’ll go over the ways in which you can hide your online status on WhatsApp and remain invisible.



Disable WhatsApp status

Open WhatsApp.

Select ‘Privacy’

Under ‘Who can see my last seen status’ select from one of the options depending on who you want to be able to see. To be completely invisible tap ‘nobody’

Now for ‘ Who can see when I’m online’ select ‘Same as last seen’



Replying from notifications

Replying from notifications means that you haven’t actually opened the app so you won’t appear online to other users. For this method to work you must receive a message notification from the person you wish to reply to.

From the notification panel drag down the message notification you wish to reply to.

Press the reply button and enter the message you wish to send



Using Airplane Mode

Turning airplane mode on then entering the app and sending a message then exiting and turning it back off will prevent your online status from being displayed. In order to do this complete the following steps.

On Android or iOS pull down the notification panel

Enable airplane mode, this will disable all network connections

Launch WhatsApp and send the message.

Exit WhatsApp

Turn off airplane mode

The message will now be sent without you appearing online



Blocking Someone

If you just want a particular person to not see your WhatsApp online status then blocking them will prevent them from doing so.

Open WhatsApp

Select the chat of the person you wish to block or search for them.

Select ‘Block’.

For more ways on how to block someone on WhatsApp check out our handy guide. Although they won’t receive a notification there are ways in which someone can tell if they are blocked on WhatsApp



Third-party apps

Using a third-party app will prevent your online status from being displayed, these are two of the most popular for iOS and Android.

For iPhone users downloading WhatsApp++ will allow you to hide your online status.

For Android users using GBWhatsApp can be a workaround for hiding your status too.

Do note that using a third-party app can be a security risk as they are not official WhatsApp products and in some cases use can cause your account to be banned.



WhatsApp Web

There is no official way to disable your online status on the web browser version of WhatsApp however with this trick you can.

Installing a plugin on Google Chrome such as WAIncognito can circumvent this.

Open the Google Chrome Web Store

Search and install ‘WAIncognito’

In the Extensions tab select WAIncognito and enable the check box that says ‘Don’t send last seen updates’

Final Thoughts

Hiding your last online status on WhatsApp provides you with extra security and privy. With the easy tricks shown in this article, you should be able to send messages without being disturbed. Various third-party apps also offer this service too, so just choose the right one for you. Although no official way for those who WhatsApp on their PC or laptop downloading a plugin can also offer a solution.

Protect Your Privacy And Unblock Websites With Betternet

Technology has erased geographical boundaries in the virtual world. Sadly, there are lots of factors that prevent the physical world from keeping up. Most content providers still put the geographical limitation to its content even though it is distributed on the Internet. Many applications, books, music, and movies are available for those who live in the U.S. but not to the users from another part of the planet – and vice versa. To overcome that problem, we need VPN; and Betternet is one of the most recommended ones.

Why VPN?

Unblocking the geographical limiter is one of the reasons we need VPN (Virtual Private Network). Another one is to protect our privacy from prying eyes. If we think about it, how can a content provider determine who can access what? There’s a location tag to every IP address that we use to access the content. To put it simply, anybody can trace where exactly you are coming from by looking at your IP.

This is both cool and scary at the same time. Websites (and Internet companies) collect statistical data by mining this information: what are people looking for and where do they come from. If you are concerned about your privacy, and you should be, you would want to use VPN to protect it.

Virtual Private Network will help you conceal your privacy by rerouting your IP; it makes it as if it comes from another location. Instead of going from A directly to B, your connection will go from A to C (and D and E …) before reaching B, where C and the rest are your VPN nodes. Your content provider will see your connection coming from an approved location and give you access.

Why Betternet?

There are many VPN services out there, but most of them come with a hefty subscription price and very limited service. Finding the good and free VPN service is as difficult as finding a four leaf clover – it’s rare, and you must be very lucky to stumble into one.

How, you might ask, can Betternet provide such service for free? It makes money by offering free sponsored apps and videos in the mobile app. Every time you install a recommended app or watch a video, you help Betternet cover the server cost. It also offers a Premium version with more features to cover other costs such as dedicated servers and server locations.

Using Betternet

Using Betternet is as simple as installing the app for iOS or Android, adding an extension for a Chrome or Firefox browser, or installing the Windows software. A Mac version is coming soon.

Let’s look at an example from the Betternet Chrome extension. First, install it from the Chrome web store.

That’s it; you are connected to the Internet via a Betternet VPN server. You can find the server location at the bottom of the pop-up window. This is the information that your content provider will see.

I tried Betternet to connect to an affiliate program that will only accept US citizens. The site always redirected me to its local site that has no affiliate program, but I could go through using the US server of Betternet. I also successfully created another Twitter account using Betternet for iOS and Safari mobile in my iPhone.

Jeffry Thurana

Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He helps other writers and freelancers to earn more from their crafts. He’s on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.

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