Wire's important because of what it means for secure communications, not its Skype ties
The most interesting thing about Wire, a new communications service that introduced itself to the world on Wednesday, isn't that it was created and funded by former Skype employees.
No, the most interesting thing about the service is that it uses end-to-end encryption for any voice calls between its users by default, making it an ostensibly secure communications tool that doesn't feature the convoluted interface or complicated set-up process of other utilities.
It's no secret that most secure communications tools aren't as well-designed as those made for consumers who don't give a whit about ensuring their messages can't be snooped on by some intelligence agency or intrusive hacker. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, these tools are used because their security features make up for their boring interfaces.
Wire is part of a growing movement to change that. The service is better-designed than even its insecure competitors, and it's easier to set up than other secure communications tools. It isn't perfect -- Wire's decision not to encrypt instant messages sent via the service because it wants to provide search tools is regrettable -- but altogether the service has some potential.
Besides, consumers already have a secure, easy-to-use messaging tool available to them: WhatsApp. The company rolled out end-to-end encryption for all messages sent between its Android users in November, and it plans to expand the feature to other platforms, too.
Between Wire's release and WhatsApp's new commitment to digital security, then, it's clear that secure communications will no longer be the sole province of paranoiacs willing to deal with software that looks like it would have seemed dated when Windows 95 was new. Having to choose between convenience and a modicum of security might soon be a thing of the past.
That's much more interesting -- and important -- than the fact that Wire has so many ties to the company it's trying to replace.
[Image via Thinkstock]