Zoho, the Indian SaaS (Software as a Service) bootstrapped unicorn, is set to launch its own messaging app called Arattai, which is Tamil for chit-chat. Zoho’s formal launch of Arattai, which is likely to be rolled out in a few weeks, comes when people are questioning WhatsApp’s new privacy policies and have been switching to other messaging apps like Signal, Telegram.

Zoho’s founder Sridhar Vembu took to Twitter to talk about the app, which is currently being tested in a ‘friends and family version’.

Already available on the Google Play Store, Arattai has a 4.6 rating, has over 10,000 installs, and the reviews already call it the “best replacement of WhatsApp”.

At the beginning of 2021, WhatsApp rolled out a new update which centred around its privacy policy, where WhatsApp would now share data with Facebook. WhatsApp also said users won’t be able to use the messaging app unless they sign up along with the new rules.

The information that WhatsApp shares with other Facebook companies includes:

  • Your account registration information.
  • Transaction data.
  • Information on how you interact with others.
  • Mobile device information.
  • Your IP address.

And here’s where Zoho’s Arattai could play on the ‘Made in India’ as well as offer a safe card because it claims that the app will not share data without the user’s consent. Arattai focuses on privacy and says, “Customer privacy is our number one priority. Arattai makes sure that your data is private and is accessible only by you!”.

Here are all the permissions that Arattai needs as mentioned on Google Play Store.

  • Microphone – record audio
  • Device ID & call information – read phone status and identity
  • Calendar – read calendar events plus confidential information, add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners’ knowledge
  • Contacts – read your contacts, find accounts on the device, modify your contacts
  • Storage – read the contents of your USB storage, modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Phone – directly call phone numbers, read phone status and identity
  • Identity – find accounts on the device
  • Photos/Media/Files – read the contents of your USB storage, modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Location – approximate location (network-based), precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • Camera – take pictures and videos
  • Other – display unauthorized windows, receive data from Internet, read Google service configuration, view network connections, draw over other apps, access Bluetooth settings
  • prevent devices from sleeping, pair with Bluetooth devices, create accounts and set passwords, full network access, change your audio settings, read terms you added to the dictionary, control vibration, run at startup.

Arattai also promises to be “free for a lifetime”.