TECH
01/05/2015 11:10 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

New App Lets You Take Back Embarrassing Texts

Sent a few too many embarrassing texts last night? There's an app for that.

Strings, started by Be Labs in Seattle, gives you the ability to permanently delete a text message from your phone and any phone you sent it to. Additionally, Strings requires your friends to ask your permission before downloading any photos or videos you send them.

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A post on the Strings website describes the concept:

We believe you deserve a way to spontaneously and fearlessly share your most intimate moments and personal thoughts from your smartphone. So we developed Strings. With Strings, you can say whatever you want, share any video or photograph you want, to whomever you want. And take it back if you want. And your friend, relative, workmate or partner cannot share it with anyone else. Unless you want them to.

strings removed

It seems like a dream come true -- and if you ask us, it kind of is -- but the phone you send the message to must have Strings downloaded as well. And Strings can't stop the person on the receiving end from getting the text in the first place. The app is also only compatible with iOS.

Strings isn't the first app that aims to control smartphone screw-ups. Invisible Text lets senders see whether or not the recipient has opened their text yet, and if they haven't, the sender can delete it. Ansa is the "Snapchat of texting," meaning your texts self-destruct after a certain amount of time. And the app On Second Thought allows users to recall their texts 60 seconds after sending them and has a "curfew" feature, meaning texts can be "embargoed" until the next morning in case you've had one too many.

But Strings CEO Edward Balassanian told The Huffington Post that Strings is the first messaging app that gives users total control over their content. "The challenge with ephemeral messaging apps is that they treat all content like it’s created equally, but we shouldn't have to delete everything in order to delete some things," he said. "Rather than trying to make content disappear, we sought to give users control so they would feel confident and comfortable to share what they want with who they want, in any way that they want."

"Friends can download content you share, but only if you approve," Balassanian continued. "Screenshots are detected and users are banned after violating this three times. And of course, you can delete a string you create if, and when, you choose to and it will be deleted everywhere. From start to finish, users control their conversations on Strings."

There are also apps out there that stop you from sending questionable texts in the first place. Designated Dialer blocks specified contacts in your phone, while Drunk Dial NO! hides designated numbers from your contacts for a certain amount of time.

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