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Text Messaging for Super Spies

Bobby Travis

Bobby Travis

This is a post by Bobby Travis, who wrote with me at 40Tech from 2009 through 2012. Bobby has since moved on to bigger and better things, but I've left all of his great contributions up on the site. - Evan
Bobby Travis

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Are you a spy, engaged in nefarious business dealings, or an extreme fan of privacy? Maybe you just really liked Mission Impossible or Inspector Gadget? If so, you will probably get a kick out of self-destructing text messages. That’s right, messages where you get to add your own little “time-bomb” that deletes the possibly offending or incriminating text off both your own phone, and that of the receiving party. Never get caught sexting by your significant other again.* Don’t leave a trail of incriminating evidence behind!* Etc. Etc. Etc… You get it, I’m sure.

Read on for more details, opinions, and the meaning of the little *’s.

ba-Bomb image by LKaestner

I understand the need for privacy in personal and business communications. I don’t have a problem with that and I support it wholeheartedly. It just seems to me that the marketing around TigerText and TigerText Pro, the mobile app that gives you the power of the self-destructing message, skirts the sleazy. Oh, they never out and out say “hide your potentially incriminating communications” or “never get caught.” They are very careful about that, in fact, focusing more on privacy protection and the fact that they are a free text and picture messaging service. However, something about the overall tone of their message tickles my increasingly cynical ear — especially when they bandy about quotes from some of their reviewers, like the New York Post, that state “TigerText eliminates the possibility of damaging evidence being left behind.” Maybe it’s just me, but broadcasting that statement as a part of your marketing seems to target a specific audience need.

I suppose, fundamentally, that I have some sort of righteous moral issue with the fact that the need exists in the first place. Somewhere, deep in my airy-fairy soul, there is a little voice whispering, “why can’t we all just be honest and nice, and stuff.” I recognize that the little voice is sadly naive and am actually much more practical in my view of human nature, but the tiny little fellow is persistent and closely related to the last resident (and black sheep) of Pandora’s Box. It also believes in the possibility of unicorns, dragons, and other romantic notions, so take from that what you will.

In any case, TigerText is a good service for getting around texting and picture messaging costs on your smartphone. It works over WiFi, and so can work in poor service areas, and is a fast, easy to use app available for all major smartphone platforms. You can only communicate with other TigerText users, however, so in many ways it is more like an instant messaging service that allows you to add a timed-delete function to your messages.

TigerText is free for personal use, and TigerText pro — the enterprise version — has some nifty features like email notifications and the like. It also has branches that are specific to those needing HIPAA (healthcare and insurance) and SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act – national securities investment protections) compliance in their communications. If you want to try it out, go to your smartphone’s app store, or head to this link for personal, and this one for enterprise.

* Notes

A word to the wise: as TigerText themselves point out, this is by no means a bulletproof method of not getting caught. Send sensitive information to others at your own risk — anyone can take a picture of a smartphone screen, either with another camera or the press of a button or two. How much you really trust the person you are sending the message to had best be at the forefront of your mind.

Oh, and also: 40Tech by no means condones cheating on your spouse, conducting nefarious dealings, yadda yadda.

What do you think of TigerText? What would you use it for?