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Conversations: the very last word in instant messaging

Google Play


Design principles

  • Be as beautiful and easy to use as possible without sacrificing security or privacy
  • Rely on existing, well established protocols (XMPP)
  • Do not require a Google Account or specifically Google Cloud Messaging (GCM)
  • Require as few permissions as possible


  • End-to-end encryption with either OTR or OpenPGP
  • Sending and receiving images
  • Indication when your contact has read your message
  • Intuitive UI that follows Android Design guidelines
  • Pictures / Avatars for your Contacts
  • Syncs with desktop client
  • Conferences (with support for bookmarks)
  • Address book integration
  • Multiple accounts / unified inbox
  • Very low impact on battery life

XMPP Features

Conversations works with every XMPP server out there. However XMPP is an extensible protocol. These extensions are standardized as well in so called XEP's. Conversations supports a couple of these to make the overall user experience better. There is a chance that your current XMPP server does not support these extensions; therefore to get the most out of Conversations you should consider either switching to an XMPP server that does or — even better — run your own XMPP server for you and your friends. These XEP's are:

  • XEP-0065: SOCKS5 Bytestreams (or mod_proxy65). Will be used to transfer files if both parties are behind a firewall (NAT).
  • XEP-0138: Stream Compression saves bandwidth
  • XEP-0163: Personal Eventing Protocol for avatars
  • XEP-0198: Stream Management allows XMPP to survive small network outages and changes of the underlying TCP connection.
  • XEP-0280: Message Carbons which automatically syncs the messages you send to your desktop client and thus allows you to switch seamlessly from your mobile client to your desktop client and back within one conversation.
  • XEP-0237: Roster Versioning mainly to save bandwidth on poor mobile connections
  • XEP-0352: Client State Indication let the server know whether or not Conversations is in the background. Allows the server to save bandwidth by withholding unimportant packages.


Head of Development

Code Contributions

(In order of appearance)




How do I install Conversations?

Conversations is entirely open source and licensed under GPLv3. So if you are a software developer you can check out the sources from GitHub and use ant to build your apk file.

The more convenient way — which not only gives you automatic updates but also supports the further development of Conversations - is to buy the App in the Google Play Store.

I don't have a Google Account but I would still like to make a contribution

I accept donations over PayPal, Bitcoin and Flattr. For donations via PayPal you can use the email address or the button below.

Donate with PayPal

Disclaimer: I'm not a huge fan of PayPal and their business policies. For larger contributions please get in touch with me beforehand and we can talk about bank transfer (SEPA).

My Bitcoin Address is: 1NxSU1YxYzJVDpX1rcESAA3NJki7kRgeeu

Flattr this!

How do I create an account?

XMPP, like email, is a federated protocol which means that there is not one company you can create an 'official XMPP account' with. Instead there are hundreds, or even thousands, of provider out there. To find one use a web search engine of your choice. Or maybe your university has one. Or you can run your own. Or ask a friend to run one. Once you've found one, you can use Conversations to create an account. Just select 'register new account on server' within the create account dialog.

Conversations doesn't work for me. Where can I get help?

You can join our conference room on A lot of people in there are able to answer basic questions about the usage of Conversations or can provide you with tips on running your own XMPP server. If you found a bug or your app crashes please read the Developer / Report Bugs section of this document.

I need professional support with Conversations or setting up my server

I'm available for hire. Contact me at

How does the address book integration work?

The address book integration was designed to protect your privacy. Conversations neither uploads contacts from your address book to your server nor fills your address book with unnecessary contacts from your online roster. If you manually add a Jabber ID to your phones address book Conversations will use the name and the profile picture of this contact. To make the process of adding Jabber IDs to your address book easier you can click on the profile picture in the contact details within Conversations. This will start an "add to address book" intent with the JID as the payload. This doesn't require Conversations to have write permissions on your address book but also doesn't require you to copy/paste a JID from one app to another.

I get 'delivery failed' on my messages

If you get delivery failed on images it's probably because the recipient lost network connectivity during reception. In that case you can try it again at a later time.

For text messages the answer to your question is a little bit more complex. When you see 'delivery failed' on text messages, it is always something that is being reported by the server. The most common reason for this is that the recipient failed to resume a connection. When a client loses connectivity for a short time the client usually has a five minute window to pick up that connection again. When the client fails to do so because the network connectivity is out for longer than that all messages sent to that client will be returned to the sender resulting in a delivery failed.

Other less common reasons are that the message you sent didn't meet some criteria enforced by the server (too large, too many). Another reason could be that the recipient is offline and the server doesn't provide offline storage.

Usually you are able to distinguish between these two groups in the fact that the first one happens always after some time and the second one happens almost instantly.

Where can I see the status of my contacts? How can I set a status or priority?

Statuses are a horrible metric. Setting them manually to a proper value rarely works because users are either lazy or just forget about them. Setting them automatically does not provide quality results either. Keyboard or mouse activity as indicator for example fails when the user is just looking at something (reading an article, watching a movie). Furthermore automatic setting of status always implies an impact on your privacy (are you sure you want everybody in your contact list to know that you have been using your computer at 4am‽).

In the past status has been used to judge the likelihood of whether or not your messages are being read. This is no longer necessary. With Chat Markers (XEP-0333, supported by Conversations since 0.4) we have the ability to know whether or not your messages are being read. Similar things can be said for priorities. In the past priorities have been used (by servers, not by clients!) to route your messages to one specific client. With carbon messages (XEP-0280, supported by Conversations since 0.1) this is no longer necessary. Using priorities to route OTR messages isn't practical either because they are not changeable on the fly. Metrics like last active client (the client which sent the last message) are much better.

Unfortunately these modern replacements for legacy XMPP features are not widely adopted. However Conversations should be an instant messenger for the future and instead of making Conversations compatible with the past we should work on implementing new, improved technologies and getting them into other XMPP clients as well.

Making these status and priority optional isn't a solution either because Conversations is trying to get rid of old behaviours and set an example for other clients.

Conversations is missing a certain feature

I'm open for new feature suggestions. You can use the issue tracker on GitHub. Please take some time to browse through the issues to see if someone else already suggested it. Be assured that I read each and every ticket. If I like it I will leave it open until it's implemented. If I don't like it I will close it (usually with a short comment). If I don't comment on an feature request that's probably a good sign because this means I agree with you. Commenting with +1 on either open or closed issues won't change my mind, nor will it accelerate the development.

You closed my feature request but I want it really really badly

Just write it yourself and send me a pull request. If I like it I will happily merge it if I don't at least you and like minded people get to enjoy it.

I need a feature and I need it now!

I am available for hire. Contact me via XMPP:


Why are there two end-to-end encryption methods and which one should I choose?

In most cases OTR should be the encryption method of choice. It works out of the box with most contacts as long as they are online. However PGP can, in some cases, (message carbons to multiple clients) be more flexible.

How do I use OpenPGP

Before you continue reading you should note that the OpenPGP support in Conversations is experimental. This is not because it will make the app unstable but because the fundamental concepts of PGP aren't ready for widespread use. The way PGP works is that you trust Key IDs instead of JID's or email addresses. So in theory your contact list should consist of Public-Key-IDs instead of JID's. But of course no email or XMPP client out there implements these concepts. Plus PGP in the context of instant messaging has a couple of downsides: It is vulnerable to replay attacks, it is rather verbose, and decrypting and encrypting takes longer than OTR. It is however asynchronous and works well with message carbons.

To use OpenPGP you have to install the open source app OpenKeychain and then long press on the account in manage accounts and choose renew PGP announcement from the contextual menu.

How does the encryption for conferences work?

For conferences the only supported encryption method is OpenPGP (OTR does not work with multiple participants). Every participant has to announce their OpenPGP key (see answer above). If you would like to send encrypted messages to a conference you have to make sure that you have every participant's public key in your OpenKeychain. Right now there is no check in Conversations to ensure that. You have to take care of that yourself. Go to the conference details and touch every key id (The hexadecimal number below a contact). This will send you to OpenKeychain which will assist you on adding the key. This works best in very small conferences with contacts you are already using OpenPGP with. This feature is regarded experimental. Conversations is the only client that uses XEP-0027 with conferences. (The XEP neither specifically allows nor disallows this.)


How do I build Conversations

Make sure to have ANDROID_HOME point to your Android SDK

git clone
cd Conversations
git submodule update --init --recursive
ant clean
ant debug

How do I debug Conversations

If something goes wrong Conversations usually exposes very little information in the UI (other than the fact that something didn't work). However with adb (android debug bridge) you squeeze some more information out of Conversations. These information are especially useful if you are experiencing trouble with your connection or with file transfer.

adb -d logcat -v time -s conversations

I found a bug

Please report it to our issue tracker. If your app crashes please provide a stack trace. If you are experiencing misbehaviour please provide detailed steps to reproduce. Always mention whether you are running the latest Play Store version or the current HEAD. If you are having problems connecting to your XMPP server your file transfer doesnt work as expected please always include a logcat debug output with your issue (see above).