End-to-end Encryption Reaches Line Messaging App

November 10, 2015 - 2 minutes read

line friends mobile appLine, the Japanese chat app well known for it’s cute stickers and bubbly mascot characters, has just adopted a more serious feature: end-to-end encryption.

211 Million people use the app currently, but with only about 10 million users in the United States it’s fair to say adoption outside their target audience in Asia (54 million in Japan alone) has been slow. With end-to-end encryption already implemented by big names in the messaging arena like WhatsApp and Telegram, android app developers should note that it’s probable end-to-end encryption will soon become a standard expectation of chat app users.

Line issued a statement that the new feature will — to start — only apply to one-on-one chats and location-sharing. Furthermore, it will not be a default setting, meaning users need to switch it on to take advantage of the added security. Needless to say, the encryption only works between two supporting devices, including both desktop and mobile. Given that the encryption switch will be located deep in the system settings of the app initially, some critics and journalists speculate that the feature will see slow adoption by users until it becomes standardized as a default setting.

While this isn’t Line’s first move towards encryption (they launched a more complicated feature in 2014 that saw limited adoption), it is the first step towards the sort of service-wide encryption seen in big rival WhatsApp.

Users are increasingly suspicious of trusting their encryption to private companies, especially given recent public revelations about the reach of the NSA. Therefore it should come as no surprise to San Francisco iPhone app developers and the mobile development industry at large that users will expect — and demand — more sophisticated encryption features as part of their user experience in years to come.

Line, clearly, has gotten the memo and plans to deliver.

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