Accept the unexpected: Message requests are now available in Signal

jlund on 12 Aug 2020

Screenshot of an incoming message request.

The number of people who join Signal every day is still growing at a record pace. With so many new conversations getting started, we’ve heard from a lot of users that they’d like more control over how they begin.

With message requests, when someone who isn’t in your contacts starts a new chat with you or adds you to a group, you can quickly see more info before accepting the request, deleting it, or blocking the conversation.

Still keeping a low profile

Incoming message requests are displayed using the sender’s Signal profile. Support for private profiles was added to Signal over two and a half years ago, but now we’ve cleaned up and simplified how they appear. Signal profiles are end-to-end encrypted and shared via the same secure Signal Protocol messaging channel that already protects your conversations and calls. This means that none of your profile information is ever accessible to the service.

As an added bonus, message requests also streamline the automated setup process for Signal’s sealed sender technology that helps hide metadata about who is messaging whom.

More than just a number

For newly created group conversations, you’ll see the profiles of the people you’re chatting with as conversations get under way (instead of a bunch of phone numbers and scattered tilde symbols). Now you can start thinking “Alice seems cool” instead of “the person whose number ends in 435 seems cool; I wonder who that is?” – but if Alice was already in your phone, you’ll still see them the same way.

A new icon in the header of one-on-one conversations makes it easy to identify when someone is in your system contacts:

Screenshot of the icon that is displayed when someone is saved to your system contacts.

Profile name updates are also displayed in the conversation thread so you can keep up with the latest changes, seasonal or otherwise.

Screenshot of a conversation thread where 'Katherine' has changed their profile name to 'Kat' Person 1: 'Finally committing to the nickname, huh?' Person 2: 'I'm going short for the summer.'

Call me maybe

Message requests improve the voice and video call experience for new conversations too. Unless the caller is already in your contacts, your phone won’t ring until you approve the request.

Screenshot of a sample call request notification: 'Kiera will get a message request from you. You can call once your message request is accepted.'

Keep your friends close. Keep serenity closer.

Requestions and answers

Visit the Support Center FAQ for additional information on Signal profiles and message requests.

We would like to thank all of the beta testers and members of the open source community who helped us find bugs and who suggested improvements during the roll-out process.

Let us know what you think!