Apple’s security and encryption strategies have received a lot of attention lately, from the way in which iOS devices’ data are locked down to how Apple doesn’t have the encryption keys the iMessage and FaceTime systems employ to secure its users’ communications to how Secure Enclave keeps our secrets secret. But WhatsApp, an app-based text, video, and voice service with a billion users, took the spotlight Tuesday with the news that its users have end-to-end encryption as well.
WhatsApp has a couple of legs—and maybe an arm or two—up on Apple, which has designed iMessage and FaceTime to exclude itself from the equation. Both Apple and WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook in 2014, can’t gain access to the encryption keys used to secure communications sessions. But WhatsApp’s approach and user interface go even farther, in ways that Apple should be considering—and, for all we know, may be building into their operations right now.