Signal :: Why are my contacts not showing up?

by Volker Weber

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(Chrome desktop app, photo: Open Whisper Systems)

The phone number you used to register your Signal client is your ID. It does not have to be your mobile number. It can be any number where you can receive the confirmation, including VoIP numbers.

How do your friends find you? Signal asks you for access to your address book. This enables the Signal client to match a phone number to a name, and vice versa. If somebody knows your phone number, they can message you, but without an entry of their number in your own address book, you just see the number, not their name.

One caveat: you should store your phone numbers in E.164 format. This is correct: +4917624799915 or +49-176-247-999-15 or +49 176 247 999 15. However, this is not: 017624799915, neither is +49 (0) 176 247 999 15

Storing your phone numbers in E.164 format has another benefit: you don't ever have to worry about dialling rules, especially when traveling internationally.

Comments

Need an outlook macro for this...

Amy Blumenfield, 2016-11-23 11:38

Amy, I am almost sure that they make an exception for Americans. You have a very stringent number format, unlike us.

Volker Weber, 2016-11-23 12:19

Hmm, it seems this should be solvable quite easily with a few lines of code to normalize the numbers and maybe a new settings option ('assume default dial prefix') inside the app instead of forcing users to change their data.

When creating software myself, I try really hard to avoid bothering my users which such topics or even forcing them to change existing data, if there is a solution in code.

Also, a certain other popular messaging app does not seem to suffer from this problem. I assume they use some kind of auto-detect for the prefix depending on the user's locale or phone number.

I have recently requested a feature for Signal (allow the user to freely choose notification sounds) and I am very impressed with the swift and kind feedback I received. So maybe I should raise the issue with Whisper Systems as I am affected as well.

Have you done so already, Volker?

Jörg Weske, 2016-11-24 10:12

Joerg, yes, you could probably do something in the app etc. But the key point is the last paragraph. It helps the user to do it right in the first place.

Interesting story related to that: Friend of mine in Scotland had stored a number in the "wrong" format in his phone. In a pub in Portnahaven his phone had connected to the network in Ireland (a fairly common occurrence there) without him noticing. He called that number and some complete stranger picked up the phone. After a confused exchange (what are you doing in my friends house?) it turned out that the exact same number existed in both Ireland and the UK.

Armin Grewe, 2016-11-24 10:28

Joerg, nein, habe ich nicht.

Wichtiger wäre mir eine Möglichkeit, direkt aus einem neuen Chat einen Kontakt anlegen zu können, falls ich noch keinen Namen zu der Nummer habe.

Volker Weber, 2016-11-24 10:51

@Jörg: zu den notification sounds: was war denn die Antwort von Whisper Systems? Der Tön störte mich so sehr, dass ich den bereits abgeschaltet habe. Aber eine notification wäre halt schon nett

Chris Frei, 2016-11-24 12:34

Chris, at least in the Android version you can already pick the notification sound.

Armin Grewe, 2016-11-24 15:34

Wie praktisch, wenn die Notifications auch ohne Ton auf der Uhr erscheinen... wie schnell man sich an sowas gewöhnt fällt mir erst jetz bei Chris' Kommentar wieder auf :-)

Ragnar Schierholz, 2016-11-24 21:28

Noch ist mein Budget-Antrag für Apple Watch nicht bewilligt, darum muss ich weiterhin *leiden* an vorsintflutlichen notifications auf dem Display des Smartphones

chris frei, 2016-11-25 10:21

@Chris: Ich zitiere mal: „...thanks for the request for more notification sound options on iOS.“

@vowe: Ich habe übrigens festgestellt, dass einige meiner Kontakte doch in Signal auftauchen, obwohl die Nummer definitiv _nicht_ im E.164-Format gespeichert ist. Komisch, oder?

Jörg Weske, 2016-11-28 22:09

Wie gesagt, es ist durchaus möglich, dass Signal da ganz entspannt vergleicht. Man liest ja Nummern am besten von hinten nach vorne.

Volker Weber, 2016-11-28 22:53

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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