Forget WhatsApp, Signal alerts switched off and nobody knows who to blame

Signal users report notifications turned off by default on range of devices

Signal App
(Image credit: Getty)

Privacy is a topical buzzword for apps at the moment as brands vie to offer the most secure app for its users in the wake of the WhatsApp privacy ruckus. Information now suggests that Signal – a key privacy messaging app – has had its notifications blocked by Tecno Mobile, a leading manufacturer of mobile handsets in Africa.

It’s likely to incense users otherwise able to receive Facebook and WhatsApp notifications. It occurs amid continued privacy concerns over WhatsApp, causing many users to sever ties with the messaging service. Many have opted for Signal, while Telegram has seen its userbase balloon in size, providing a user-friendly tool to shift your conversations from WhatsApp to Telegram.

It appears the default behavior of Tecno Mobile devices forbids the access of certain newly installed apps, causing platforms like Signal to lose the ability to receive and issue notifications. The user has to manually add the app to a whitelist, or toggle the settings to force it to do so.

A tweet from Signal, and various testimony from users in the comments section, indicate that Tecno Mobile could be altering Android in a way that breaks some apps’ functionality.

Some users report that battery optimizations block Signal from running properly; Tecno Mobile phones, in particular, seem to fail to identify the apps they should run, levying aggressive ram management against the phone’s system. Ultimately, unless Signal is open on the screen, users aren’t receiving messages, nor is the feature automatically turned on. Privacy is an opt-in, rather than a default.

There appears to be a range of devices that are experiencing the issue, based on user comments. It reportedly affects the Huawei P20 running Android 8; the Oppo Reno 4G Pro 5G allegedly kills Signal when you wanted to switch to task manager; and, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T is namechecked, among several unspecified European devices, that reportedly won’t deliver push notifications from Signal.

For now, the consensus over a fix seems to be to check your battery optimization settings and set it to False; if you’re using a Tecno Mobile handset, then go to the Phone Master, Toolbox, and set the Auto-Start Management setting to True. T3’s best WhatsApp alternatives sort through several other platforms beyond Signal, which offer enhanced privacy; we’ve even got a pick of the best Android phones to house your new messaging apps.

Selective broken functionality out the box is a big problem if it’s as widespread as reports seem to attest to, clearly needing a long-term fix. It’s an unpleasant situation for both users – having to deal with hamstrung apps like Signal – and also developers, who themselves are not at fault, but will be inundated with support requests.

Luke Wilson
Luke Wilson

Luke covers all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets)