March 22, 2021

The Search for the Perfect Messaging App

The Search for the Perfect Messaging App

A casual conversation about workplace and personal communication tools, the experiences they deliver, and privacy tradeoffs.


Most of us use multiple apps a day to handle the simple task of talking with others. Why do we end up using so many different apps and is there one that stands above the rest? Is technology helping us or causing needless complication in our lives? In this episode, we explore the complexity of communication in the digital age.

Topics

  • Browser tab management (book rec: Getting Things Done)
  • Chrome and Microsoft Teams performance
  • Teams vs Slack
  • WhatsApp TOS changes
  • WhatsApp vs Signal vs Telegram
  • Deleting Facebook

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Transcript

Ryan Purvis  0:00  
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast.

Unknown Speaker  0:03  
I'm Ryan Purvis,

Ryan Purvis  0:03  
your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, they will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings.

Have you ever read Getting Things Done?

Unknown Speaker  0:36  
No,

Ryan Purvis  0:37  
there's a methodology. So I'll be the whole long spiel. But basically, he's got a flow chart that I still live by. And you look at the flow of the flow chart, but he's got a concept, which is less than two minutes you do it. If it's longer than two minutes, then you got to decide if you're going to defer it, and you go put in a date, we're going to do it or you delegate it to someone else, let's do it, we're going to drop it, which means you're just not going to do it. So and I kind of live by that sometimes. So Sosa's a, an article that I want to read, it'll be on my tabs, and then I'll come back and look at it another way. Just give it a quick skim over. And then within two minutes, I decide whether to keep it or not. And it's also going to keep it then I'll admit, I might add the drop, it could be put into a folder, like a research folder. So it's like a topic, you look at a lot like obviously digital workspace, we look at a lot. So I'll have a whole folder for articles of stuff. And that's how I do it. works most the time. Not all the time. None of these things work all the time. But yeah, that's one way to filter out all the noise.

Heather Bicknell  1:51  
Yeah, now that sounds like a good system to kind of, you know, put things away. So it's there, you're not going to lose it and not be able to find it again. Whether or not you go back to it, but at least isn't crushing your CPU and your memory.

Ryan Purvis  2:08  
Yeah, because Chrome is renowned for that. taking up too much memory.

Heather Bicknell  2:13  
Teens is pretty bad, too. It's mostly chrome and teams that are really system hogs.

Ryan Purvis  2:19  
Yep. Yeah. But I've been looking at my bandwidth usage. Because I want to on a 4g card, though, and I've only had the card in place for me we are we end of January, two weeks, three weeks. And I've already used about 60 gigs worth of data. So teams is definitely a hog. Because I already use it really for work. And I spend most of my time on phone calls. So yeah, video. So it's definitely, definitely taking them a lot of a lot of resources.

Heather Bicknell  2:54  
Yeah, even Alright, even when I haven't been using video as much, I noticed that too, still demands a lot. And I wonder if that's ever going to get optimized? Or if it's just going to get worse, as they, you know, obviously that the idea the strategy, right is to make it the the place where you go for, you know, to access any of these other apps where you live as much as possible, just within teams. Which means you know, more things need to be added new features make it better to edit documents within teams, which I can only imagine would be make it up, you know, have your app.

Ryan Purvis  3:35  
Yeah, it's built on a platform called electron. I don't know much about electron. But I would suspect that because it's a I think electron is JavaScript based. It's going to be quite intensive because of this script. script that's been run. And the reason why use electron why I think they use electron is the word somebody was multi-platform. But yeah, I would think that's probably where some of the problems is different optimization that could happen there. It's probably something worth asking Tom about. Because he's on the inside track and all that sort of stuff. Wow. So he's an MVP for it. So good. I bet potentially he would know. But yeah, it's definitely heavy. And you'd think that they would you always think the logical thing is to make it perform optimally. But as long as no one's complaining, they probably won't do anything about it.

Heather Bicknell  4:33  
Yeah, I'm sure it is. There's a lot to weigh. I do. I do think it's gotten them a lot more stable as a platform. Over time, as I've used it, definitely. I remember so we were beta users on it. There was a time or just like every week I felt like I was using that. You know, help function submit a bug, submit feedback kind of mechanism, and I I don't find myself doing that anymore. So

Ryan Purvis  5:04  
yeah, Stephanie is definitely improved. I do find it very clunky still, you know, you talked about editing documents. So like, if someone sends me a PowerPoint, it's nice that it's in the chat, and you click on it, but then that sort of loading up in the window. It's a bit odd, because you can't actually see the chat anymore. So now you got to like, close the window to have a chat again. Whereas what you want to do is basically the chat next to the document pop out.

Heather Bicknell  5:31  
Yeah, yep. All right. Yeah, side by side pop out. Yeah.

Ryan Purvis  5:36  
Yeah, I mean, we did read that. I used to work for a vendor called level 360, which is bought by open text, where we used to do document work, you'd have a document open, and you'd have the sort of steps the checklist that you need to go through, and then the chat whenever it will be in one screen. So it was all nicely laid out. So you're wasting time. And I find that that would be my concern about teams being the go to place is is not a very efficient place to work. And I can't figure out what's wrong with it. But then I find like the chats, you'd be in a chat, but now you're in a team's conversation. So you have to move away from chat to teams, to have a conversation. And, you know, it's just, that's an intuitive way of handling things. And if you try to find something that that's important, or someone says something that you want to drive an action from, or something like that, sometimes the ability to interact with that message is not the same. So you can't just report it, you can't just reply in the thread to that comment. You almost have to reply, wherever you are the next part of the chat and say referring to your comment about bah, bah, bah, here's what I think. Which is very, like, clunky and actually doesn't, you don't want to persist that kind of chat, because it's gonna be very difficult to follow. Somebody that I think slack has got a bit of a better play on.

Heather Bicknell  7:00  
Yeah, I was gonna say the, you know, I, there are some people who are really diehard slack fans. And I think maybe that simplicity of experience, or just like, you know, there's really fewer ways, I think, to use Slack, whereas teams, there's more variables for individual behavior and how you treat the team's versus chat model. I mean, I guess, you know, slack does have private messaging, but it is more similar, I think, between the messaging, you know, the private messaging and the like, the slack feed than teams is between the team and the chat, if that makes sense.

Ryan Purvis  7:44  
Don't think I follow it, I made maybe if I sort of do it this way. So if you're in a Slack channel, someone can say something. And you can reply to that statement in its own thread. And you can sort of branch out within the same conversation so that you can have a side thread that's running. And when you reply to that statement, you can either reply in the thread, or you can reply in the thread, enter the main conversation. So it looks like in that sense, if you reply to the main conversation, you have a new line with your with your response. But you also have it inside the thread of what your response was. Which, you know, sort of seen as bad etiquette to do both, you'd normally just reply inside the thread. But you can take that conversation into a direct one to one conversation as well from that chat. So you don't have to go and start a new conversation to to have that one to one you can sort of like you do in WhatsApp, you can reply to something in a group. But you can reply privately and go into a sub channel or sub chat without everyone else knowing what what's happened.

Heather Bicknell  8:50  
I guess speaking of WhatsApp, I know there was was a couple of weeks ago now the the mass exodus off of WhatsApp and on the apps like signal because of Facebook's Terms of Service changes. I remember you had some some thoughts there.

Ryan Purvis  9:11  
Yeah, so maybe, I mean, I haven't left WhatsApp. Although I I have had telegram for a long time. And that signal I've always heard about but I've never installed it. So obviously I did but most people did as I installed signal and started talking on there. I don't like Facebook generally, why 99% of the time I can't stand the business constant what they report there about but it's unfortunately one of those things where I think you have to have an account. At the very minimum you have to have it so that no one else has your account. So So identity protection and stuff like that. You know WhatsApp is so useful for me in the sense of, you know, a lot of groups that I'm on and people you know, generally if I want to chat to someone there on WhatsApp, and even here in sa. A lot of businesses are only available via WhatsApp chat. So you can find them on WhatsApp. So like stupid example like our time asajj bunch there, they've got a phone number, but they respond quicker on WhatsApp than answering the phone. So So yeah, so I think it'd be very difficult for people to leave WhatsApp, but I do like the the Facebook approach to things generally. So I've gotten turned off all the things you can turn off, there's actually a link, it's going around at the moment of, of what you should enable and disable and all that kind of stuff. So I'll give that dossena if you haven't seen it. But like, like Instagram, like Twitter, like, what any social media, I think you have to have an identity that you that you protect, you know, so no one else can can impersonate you for whether you actually use these things. Yes, that's a personal preference. And I think the I think we do need to realize that, I mean, this is a pretty common concept, but not not everyone knows this, that when it's for free, you're the product. So if you use Facebook, realize that whatever you do on there posting pictures of, you know, like, a picture of something to be used against me for advertising or affecting my feed, or whatever it is. So I think that awareness needs to happen. I am preferring signal at the moment. So So Jenny, what's happening is if I can, if someone's on signal, I talk to that music conversation to signal, I find there the app experience 10 times better than what not only on the phone, but actually have a decent iPad app. So I can use signal the iPad, and I can and it's got a Windows app as well. So this in that sense, it's it's a much better product. That I don't know if you know this, but the guys who bought signal are the same guys who bought WhatsApp. They just they just left WhatsApp, it was bought whatever the golden handcuffs were. And they're in both signal mortar where they want it to be. So you know, January, I've heard much more secure, much more privacy orientated than WhatsApp and, and Facebook, which I can agree with. But also just as just a simple, nice experience. telegram Allah handles a lot. That's a very dicey product. You know, I've heard all sorts of rumors about a bit known by a bunch of Russians that are going to sell to Facebook at minute now. But also that you can if you don't protect your group, so when you create a group and you don't make it a hidden group, anyone can join your group. And there's all sorts of you know, you can set your area right down, find all bunch of groups, you got to be like very, very aware of when you do a telegram group. There's all these things to consider.

Heather Bicknell  12:57  
Why would that be a feature?

Ryan Purvis  13:00  
But it doesn't make sense, like, so I was driving to Sandton yesterday. And there's a couple signposts as a telegram logo. And then there's a sort of head bowed. Name, which I'm sure but one telegram that you can go and join. Now if you're in a local area, you want to you know, you need lift somewhere like a lift club, you How would you find them on YouTube or on Facebook or something like that, an ask someone to recommend somebody, I think it's just another proliferation of that versus groups that are created that, you know, if you set up a neighborhood watch group, you want to make sure that anyone who comes in that group actually is in your neighborhood, not the guy who's trying to rob you, you're doing research, because that's your risk if you don't do it properly. So it's just it's just the things you got to think about, I think, what are your thoughts on the whole thing?

Heather Bicknell  13:53  
Um, well, I guess you know, WhatsApp, I've only used very, in a limited sense and I've been sort of off Facebook for a long time, but I haven't ever done the true deletion of the profile. So I find what you say about having a profile to protect your identity very interesting and I haven't heard that as sort of a an idea before practice that you might want to consider this Facebook, I thought they don't they have something where they try to verify that it's really you or is that not very robust? I know they changed that after I left the platform.

Ryan Purvis  14:37  
The i don't know i mean, i IV really got on you know, probably once once a month I'll have like a two hour like just binge a bunch of things, you know, whatever it is, but I've never actually checked that i think i think it is device aware. So if you if you log in on a different device, you'll get a notification to say this device has access to your profile. I think you can set up the usual sort of two factor authentication, authorization on another device to use that device. But I've never really tried over different device, I haven't seen that for a while.

Heather Bicknell  15:17  
I didn't know that they have to FA now I need to log in and figure out what my login is and then go and do that. Does that I mean, even just leaving that profile up there. And now I guess I need to think about this decision a little bit more either way. But since it's such a pain, to do the full deletion, you have to like, at least the last one of the tomatoes. You know, you needed to basically contact Facebook directly and manage it that way. So I just haven't taken the full plunge.

Ryan Purvis  15:52  
Yeah, so it's not that bad anymore. I mean, you can go into your accounts, I mean, you got to go find it, it's a bit tricky to get to but but you can, you can delete your accounts, and it gives you 30 days to change your mind. And you can also export all your data, which is, which is good. I've done it a few times where I've got to that point. But then I always realized that I've got you know, there's so many applications that I use, like, you know, something that you've logged in like, like Strava, for example, Father, which is the fitness app, to track everything that's on my Facebook account. And they don't have a way to migrate your account from being a Facebook logged in account to a normal account. So that's a bit irritating, because they say you've almost got to weigh up the some of the things you've done, and see if you can actually get off completely.

Heather Bicknell  16:45  
Yeah, I think Luckily, I left the platform before that sort of proliferated. And I do think so. And you know, for me, it really captured my Facebook activity was really my teenage years. So even if I was going to return to the platform, I think I'd rather nuke that and then wipe it from the internet and restart. I don't think there's any need to, you know, keep all of my high school classmates as my network. as interesting as I'm sure it could be to see what everyone's up to. But I'm the I guess I'm the signal friends. So I've been using signal a couple years now just searching, always searching for a good app to Android or to message with Android users. And I think we because we used to go through different ones. I don't remember all the names anymore. There's like Google, I don't want to say it was Allo Google, I think they had another duo. I think they had a messaging app called duo. But they always were changing it. And eventually found in switch to signal and then it has, you know, the added benefit of you know, not being major tech company and be more, you know, secure and private. So yeah, that's what I use for non iMessage stuff. And I haven't looked back.

Ryan Purvis  18:16  
Yeah, I don't think she noticed do I forgot about your completely. But you what you can do, I'm just doing it now my facebook account, I thought I had done it. You can set up Google as your secure thing. And I've also set up two factor which I've just over written with a new one, just because I use the Microsoft authenticator app. And I was using the Google one. So So yeah, you should do that. Definitely. If you're not don't use SMS.

Heather Bicknell  18:50  
Yeah. Microsoft authenticator is nice because it has the watch app so you can just click the approve right from the watch when it works.

Ryan Purvis  19:05  
Yeah, that I've had some trouble with as well since I've switched to the six series six have a trouble with that but usually it works quite nicely. So you say you're using signal and when it was before do so because I mean, you can't you got Facebook Messenger, you've got WhatsApp, you've got signal. You've got Viber or Viper Viber is sort of Skype that's that's knocking around. Then you got teams and and zoom that are like the enterprise ones. There's probably other other ones. I think there's a Cisco teams as well.

Heather Bicknell  19:35  
Yeah, WebEx teams,

Ryan Purvis  19:37  
WebEx teams. It gets a bit, you know, who do you Who do you talk to on whether it's an iMessage or SMS? Or iMessage, I think is a little bit more sophisticated. And just SMS is quite a plethora of chat applications. And of course, you got the sort of Twitter at the messaging, which you could use as well, if you really wanted to.

Heather Bicknell  20:04  
or LinkedIn or Instagram? I don't know. Yeah, that's direct message they probably do.

Ryan Purvis  20:13  
Yeah, I haven't spent too much time with Tick Tock I find that a very weird experience. You know, it's I just constantly what we had videos all day long. All those days, every so often is usually a pretty funny one that some guy sends along the group here, like in the end up looking and a few others.

Heather Bicknell  20:34  
Yeah, my Tick Tock experiences very much seeing it secondhand on different platforms, which means, you know, I'm sure by the time I see it, it's like, fast day, it's all legit. The longer the hottie thing, you know, it's like the, the means that make it up to Facebook. They've been around for a few weeks.

Ryan Purvis  20:56  
We're talking about something yesterday where the actual with the meme is actually accelerating faster than the news. So none of us watched the column McGregor fight on Saturday night, but the memes are coming out with him. Me knocked out already. Like, Oh, okay. See lost, you know, well, you know, don't have to watch the highlights now.

Heather Bicknell  21:19  
Wow. Yeah, that is interesting. I, and that raises an interesting question about copyright, I guess, because I would imagine that, you know, if everyone is watching this GIF of who won the fight, and they don't need to go to your, to your website, you know, whoever hosted the fight to watch the highlights, they probably would not be too pleased about

Ryan Purvis  21:47  
well, I don't know if you know why you may not have noticed this with WhatsApp. So WhatsApp put in a thing, because originally, a while ago, get a you get a whole lot of videos being fought on WhatsApp all the time, you know, you'd get a video, you pass it on to next group, and you'd end up with a cycle of stuff moving around, and actually put some limits in so you couldn't afford it a video, you could only afford it maybe to two other groups or one other group. So they're, they're restricted how much you could afford on its content wise. And I wonder if that's not the start of some sort of content controls. Not so much what your content is, but the dissemination of content doesn't pick up a file by its name. And that name is something that's free that that's descriptive, you could actually get into some sort of human rights violation or, or vile of opposite where you, you know, invading privacy rating, which is what they're saying they're not doing with us this change, but you just don't know. I mean, suppose everything's encrypted. But you got a pretty bit of faith in the platform.

Heather Bicknell  22:58  
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I guess I could see, you know, different ways where that could be protective and different ways where it could be. I don't know, I guess undesirable. It makes me think of I think it was, I think the Mandalorian the first season when that came out. There were a bunch of baby Yoda, you know, gifts, gifts and names and whatnot. And I, if I remember correctly, they kind of cracked down on that and tried to take those off and say that people couldn't create that kind of thing and share it. So I think that changed at some point, because I definitely see them now. But

Unknown Speaker  23:45  
yeah,

Ryan Purvis  23:45  
I suppose that's a licensing issue. Oops. I haven't seen that for a while. If I'm just fitting. I mean, I finished Mandalorian a couple weeks ago, the end of it, and then you'd think any publicity for that would be a good policy as opposed to bad publicity. Stuff getting around.

Heather Bicknell  24:05  
Disney is pretty, I think really cracked down on that stuff. But

Ryan Purvis  24:09  
yeah,

Heather Bicknell  24:12  
but yeah, I know, I need to move on to my next call of the day.

Ryan Purvis  24:19  
You and me both hear me both. Cool. What was good chatting. Later? Go.

Thank you for listening. Today's episode. Hey, the big news app producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the D ww podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website WWW dot digital workspace works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.

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