Sandes, an Indian government alternative to WhatsApp and other instant messaging apps, has been launched by the National Informatics Center (NIC). The new platform is an upgrade to the existing Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS) that was developed to provide government officials with a WhatsApp-like communication app. The Sandes app can be used by both government officials and individual users. It requires a mobile number or email ID for sign up. Once signed up, users can send and receive messages as well as new create groups or send multimedia content such as images and videos.
Similar toand other major instant messaging apps, Sandes (which means message in Hindi) says it uses end-to-end encrypted communication. The app can be used for sending and receiving messages or sharing images and videos between contacts. It also allows contact sharing and group chats. Further, users can also broadcast messages or set certain messages as their favorite.
How to sign up for Sandes app
You initially need tothe Sandes app on your mobile device. It is available for download in an APK file for smartphones running on Android 5.0 and above through the government’s GIMS portal. For iOS users, the app is available for download through the and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod touch running on at least iOS 12.0.
Once downloaded, you can sign up on the Sandes app using your mobile number or email ID. The app will send you a six-digit OTP for authentication.
You can also edit your profile or select your status upon signing up on the Sandes app. All this works similar to how you can update your profile on WhatsApp.
Sandes vs WhatsApp
Although the government’s Sandes app carries many similarities with WhatsApp, there are some notable differences, too. The first major difference is the option to sign up using your email ID on the Sandes app. It isn’t there on WhatsApp as you must need a mobile number to sign up on the Facebook-owned messaging platform. The Sandes app also supports verified accounts for government employees. WhatsApp, on the other hand, doesn’t have verified accounts for any individuals. The other notable change that you’ll see on Sandes is the option to send chat backups to a user-preferred external location, including email. This is not the case with WhatsApp where you can only back up your chats toif you’re on – or if you use an .
The Sandes app also does not allow users to change their mobile number or email ID once signed up. This means that you’ll need to stick to your mobile number or email ID that you used for signing up to continue to use the app. Alternatively, you can delete your account with the and then create a new one with a different mobile number or email ID. WhatsApp, in contrast, has ato let you easily move from an old phone number to a new one – without deleting your profile. There is also an option to sync contacts and add new contacts who are already on the platform; you can’t invite new users to join, but anyone can just download the app and join.
The government hasn’t yet provided any clarity on how it is planning to use Sandes. But nonetheless, given the features the app currently has and its scope being a government platform, it could be adopted by individuals against global messaging apps including WhatsApp,, and . The government is already to use the Sandes app for their official communication. However, it is yet to gain popularity among the public.
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