How to download and set up India’s WhatsApp alternative app Sandes in 2021

In this article we are going to explain How to download and set up India’s WhatsApp alternative app Sandes in 2021. Sandes Application is an Indian government alternative to WhatsApp and other instant messaging apps, has been launched by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The new App is an upgrade of the existing Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS) that was developed to give government officials with a WhatsApp-like communication app. The Sandes App can be used by both the individual users and  the government officials. It needs to enter a mobile number or government email ID for sign up. Once signed up, users can send and receive messages as well as new create groups or it has feature of sending multimedia content like images and videos.

Sandes App is Similar to WhatsApp and other major instant messaging applications, Sandes (which means message in Hindi). The app can be used for sending and receiving messages or sharing images and videos between each other. It also has a feature of contact sharing and group chats. Further, users can also broadcast messages or set certain messages as their favourite. Sources in the government also confirmed to NDTV that a second app, called Samvad (which means conversation) is also comes in the upcomming days. This apps is completely developed by the government of India.

Features of Sandes App

  1. Sandes has a almost similar interface to many other apps which is currently available in the market.
  2. The application uses a valid mobile number or an email id.
  3. It has features like group making, broadcasting messages or forwarding emojis.
  4. It informs the user to be aware of that the messages would not be shared with others.
  5. There is also a security feature that allows the user to mark the messages as confidential.
  6. App not allowed to change their phone numbers or email id once you are registered.
  7. It has no option to transfer the chat history between two platforms.

How to sign up for Sandes app

You need to Download Sandes App on your mobile device. It is available for download in an APK file for smartphones running on Android 5.0 and above with the help of the government’s GIMS(Government Instant Messaging System) portal. For iOS users, the app is available for download from the App Store and it is also compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod touch running on at least iOS 12.0.

sandes app

Once you downloaded the application, you can sign up on the Sandes app by using either your mobile number or email ID. The app will send you a six-digit OTP(One-time password) for verification. Email IDs are restricted to government IDs only — if you try to sign up with a Gmail, Hotmail, or other email account, you’ll see a notice that emails from that domain are not allowed for signup. Even government-related accounts like accounts are not accepted — only official emails can be used to register with the app. Otherwise, you have to use your phone number to take benefits the feature of this Application.

You have option to edit your profile or select your status upon signing up on the Sandes application. All this works similar to how you can update your profile on WhatsApp.

Sandes App vs WhatsApp

The government’s Sandes application 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. For now at least, this is restricted to government officials who can use their email IDs to sign in. This function isn’t there at all on WhatsApp, and everyone requires a mobile number to sign up on the Facebook-owned messaging platform. The Sandes app also supports verified accounts for government employees. On the other hand, WhatsApp, does not verified accounts for any individuals. The other notable modification is that you’ll see on Sandes is the option to send chat backups to a user-preferred external location, including email. This isn’t the case with WhatsApp where you can only back up your chats to Google Drive if you’re on Android — or iCloud if you are using an iPhone.

The application provides almost similar features and functionality as WhatsApp like end-to-end encryption, audio and video calls, multimedia and file sharing and more features for its users.

How to setup Sandes App

  1. Open the app and enter your mobile number
  2. At the next step, enter the six digit OTP(one-time-password) received on your phone
  3. Fill in the given gender details option(optional)
  4. Now You are done. Search for a contact that is using the app, tap on it and start texting just like you do on WhatsApp.

Why has NIC launched this instant messaging platform?

Following the globally lockdown imposed in March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19, the government felt the need to build a platform to ensure secure communication between its employees and the employee who are working from home.

Due to security scares the government take a decision to do that for the users, the Ministry of Home Affairs had in April last year issued an advisory to all government employees to avoid using platforms like Zoom for official communication. This was after the Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In) had also posted an advisory against Zoom over safety and privacy concerns. The idea of secure communication network completely dedicated to government employees who  working for the past four years.

NIC(National Informatics Centre) released the first version of this application In August 2020, which said that the app could be used by both the central and the state government officials “for intra and inter-organisation communication.” This app was initially launched for Android users and then the service was extended to iOS users also.

The launch of the app is also a part of the government strategy to push for use of India-made software so as to build an ecosystem of indigenously developed products. Initially it opens only for government officers, and later it has been released for the common public.

What is different in the new app developed by NIC?

The instant messaging application, called Sandes, has an interface similar to many other apps currently available in the market for the users. There is no any option for users to transfer the chat history between two platforms, the chats on government instant messaging systems or GIMS can be backed up to a users’ email and this data backup facility is the important feature to data point of view for the users.

GIMS(government instant messaging systems), like other instant messaging apps in the market, uses a valid mobile number or email id to register the user for the first time. It also provides features such as group making, broadcasting message, message forwarding and emojis.

Every app has limitation so this app also has a limitation, It does not allow the user to change their email id or registered mobile number on the App. If the user changed the emailid or phone number on the app then user will have to re-register as a new user.

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