Latest News and Updates

Two and a Quarter Million Downloads

While we’ve been so busy messing around, it looks like Textie just passed the two and quarter million downloads mark! Amazing.

Feb 8

Keeping Your Address Book Private

We learned yesterday that some folks in Silicon Valley think that having apps upload a bald copy of your address book to their servers is an “industry best practice” for spurring quick viral growth.  To us it sounds like an unnecessary and serious disrespect of address book privacy.

We hope that a quick look at the way Textie Messaging handles your address book data will illustrate that there are better “industry best” practices out there.  You needn’t settle for less.

Let’s say you’ve installed Textie and now you want to know who else has the app (setting aside that Textie Messaging does not require the other party to have Textie).  How is this going to happen?

A basic approach to getting this “Find My Friends” sort of feature would be to upload every email address from a your address book to some servers, and then have the servers run a comparison with all existing users’ addresses.  (So many popular apps do this today, it’s frightening.)  This is the easiest method for the app creator to code, and it has the added “benefit” of revealing to their servers a whole collection of email addresses of people who don’t yet have their app, but might want it.  So tempting!  But is it right?

We have a design principal: Touch the minimum private data necessary for servicing the user’s intention.  And as it happens, prying into all these addresses is not necessary to answer the question “who else has the app?”.

The following screen cut from Textie for iPad shows where a user accesses the “Find My Friends” feature:

First of all, it’s optional.  Second, as we say, “Privacy is protected by one-way hashes so that servers never see actual addresses.”  (Please tweet suggestions for better wording to @Textie)

Using a cryptographic technique called one-way hashing, the Textie app creates encoded tokens (or “hashes”) for each address that you have, and only those hashes are sent to the server for comparison.  Because the hashes are “one-way”, it is impossible (in all practicality) for the servers to reverse them and determine the email addresses that each was created from.  The only way the hashes are recognizable is if they have been computed independently, and to do that, the email address would have to already be known by us.  Indeed, Textie servers compute the hash once for each new user who signs up and verifies their email address.  Now with our pre-computed hashes saved, Textie servers can tell you which addresses it recognizes without learning of the ones it doesn’t.

(Developers, note that you’ll need to find good ways to canonicalize the addresses. We’ve found lowercasing to be a good start.)

Using this approach, Textie is pretty well assured not to scrape up any new email addresses when you go to find out if your friends have Textie.  We avoid being burdened with private data that we don’t need for servicing your request, and there’s no way for us to be tempted to start spamming your contacts or keep a massive database of who knows who according to private contacts lists.

If that kind of thing sounds good to you, please help the future of online privacy by insisting that all your apps treat the address book with similar respect.

Announcing Textie for Android

Today we are pleased to present Textie™ Messaging for Android, bringing the style and simplicity of Textie Messaging to a new world of devices and freedom-loving individuals the world over.  You can DOWNLOAD Textie Messaging here for free in the Android Market, and you can use it to text and photo message with anyone who has an email address immediately, free and with elegant simplicity.

Textie for Android has been built from the ground up in fast, native Java code and sports a clean look and feel evocative of its origins.  From slide-up option sheets to tapping the title bar to automatically scroll to the top of lists, we’ve brought over the acclaimed ease of use of our original app and added to it the Android advantages of battery-efficient C2DM notifications, background processing, and a number of native service integrations.  Even more is in the works.

We think that Textie Messaging to be the best, most natural way to text and photo message between Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.  Let us know what you think!

Features:

  • Sends unlimited free messages to any Textie user, email address and most U.S. mobile phones
  • Sends high quality photos to other Textie users or to any email
  • Installs free on Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
  • Can be installed on multiple devices simultaneously
  • Naturally integrates with your existing address book contacts
  • Provides access to server-archived messages
  • Uses secure SSL for all connections
  • Uses battery-efficient Google C2DM Android push notifications

Screenshots:

Textie for Android Public Beta

Textie® for Android Public Beta can now be installed, for a limited time, by any Android user. With 1.5 million downloads on iOS, but now completely new to Android, we invite you to a first peek below.

Use the package link below to install directly on Android. Follow @Textie on Twitter for beta updates. Your feedback and critiques are most welcome.

Lastly, a special thanks to everyone involved with the Textie for Android private beta: Your help has been invaluable!

Public Beta Installation Package:

  • https://textie.me/system/beta/textie.apk
  • (To install, tap the link directly from your Android device.  If you are not on your Android, email the link to yourself, or type the link into your Android browser.  Make sure your device’s Application Settings allows installing packages from unknown sources, at least temporarily.)

Requirements:

  • Android OS version 2.2 or greater
  • Google Android Market account (for C2DM push notifications)

Send Feedback:

  • textie.support@borange.com

Features:

  • Textie® Messaging lets you message free between iPhones, iPods, iPads and Androids.
  • Send messages to any email address and most U.S. mobile phones and get replies free.
  • Send high quality photos to other Textie apps or to any email.
  • Enjoy acclaimed ease of use, multi-device syncing, encryption, archiving, and more!

Screenshots:

1.5 million Textie downloads and a new blog

We’ve got something super coming up for the holidays, so I thought we’d create a new blog for announcements. We’ve decided to give Tumbr a whirl, and the new blog goes here: http://blog.textie.me.

First announcement: Textie® Messaging has just reached 1.5 million downloads on iOS. In just the past three months we’ve watched our growth climb 50% to several thousand new signups a day. Amazing!