Have you ever sent a text or photo to a friend or acquaintance that you immediately regretted sending? You’re not alone. Perhaps you’ve spent a hard night on the ale, only to wake up to a day of apologizing for the drunken texts of the night before? Again, you are not alone. Drunk or sober, we’ve all sent texts we regret. But what if you could take those unwanted texts back? What if you could not only delete those ill-advised texts from your phone, but also from the phone of the recipient? If that sounds too good to be true, think again. New apps are making it possible to do just that, and consumers are rushing to install them onto their smartphones and tablets.
‘Untexting’ With Strings
Strings is a free app that allows users to remotely delete potentially regrettable texts and photos from both the sender’s and the recipient’s phones. Created by Seattle based software developer Be Labs, Strings has been designed to give users greater control over their messaging habits. Strings begins by letting users add or remove contacts to any existing conversation. These conversations are, quite naturally, called ‘strings’, and users can maintain multiple ‘strings’ among their many contacts. At any time in the conversation, the user has the ability to delete the ‘string’, removing the content from the sender’s phone, from each of the recipient’s phones, and from the servers themselves. Be Labs has called the process ‘untexting’, and they expect their app to catch on fast.
If there are any drawbacks to the String app, it is that everyone participating in the protected conversation must have the app installed on their handset. Still, as the app is free it’s not a big ask to have friends install Strings on their own smartphones. There is also no way to prevent users from taking screen shots of messages, and saving them on other apps. Currently, Strings is only available for iOS through Apple’s App Store, and there are no plans to release a version for Android devices.
‘Off the Record’ with Ansa
In addition to Strings, there is another new app on the market that allows users to remotely delete messages and photos. Ansa is being promoted as “the safest place to let go, and be yourself with friends”. Developed in San Francisco, Ansa is a free app that may remind some users of Snapchat. However, Ansa goes much further than the popular photo sharing app. With Ansa, users can go ‘off the record’, conducting full conversations that automatically disappear after a few seconds. Videos and photos can be shared, but once viewed self-destruct after 60 seconds. Like the Strings app, once a conversation has been deleted it is removed from all participating users’ phones, as well as the Ansa servers. In the words of the developer, Ansa is the only messaging app that “lets you communicate like you do in person, without leaving a record behind”.
Much like Strings, Ansa’s self-destruct feature will only work if all participants in the conversation have the app installed, and engaged, on their phone. The self-destruct feature will not work with any other messaging apps. Ansa is free, and is currently available for both iOS and Android.
We have all sent texts that we wish we could take back, and with these new apps it is possible to do just that. Admittedly, neither of these new apps is perfect. Both only work if all participants in the conversations are subscribers to the specific app, and have it engaged on their device. But it is a step in the right direction. With smartphone privacy becoming an increasingly important issue for the public, apps like Ansa and Strings go some way towards helping consumers protect themselves from spies and hackers, not to mention potential embarrassment. If you’ve ever sent a text message that you regret (and let’s face it, who hasn’t) these new apps may be just what you have been waiting for.