It’s Been a Long Time Coming
This blog post has been a long time coming. Between working full-time and helping to raising three daughters I managed over the past two years to write a couple’s messaging app.
I released it to the App Store on 1/18/2018 and have had 7 updates since.
It has been by far my favorite app to work on. It has allowed me to explore aspects of product development that I normally don’t get involved with, i.e. social media, digitial marketing and data analysis, as well as, explore some of Apple’s latest / greatest iOS features, such as, SiriKit, CoreML and CloudKit.
What is it?
Significant Other is a shift from other apps that share everything with everybody, everywhere.
It’s just for you and one other.
Whether it’s a website link you want to discreetly share, a photo you don’t want your kids to stumble across or a message you don’t want a co-worker to accidentally see pop up during staff meeting, Significant Other keeps your messages guarded and exclusively between you and your partner.
Why Another Messaging App
There isn’t an app out in the mobile space that is easier and more well designed than iMessage. Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc offer a laundry list of great features that enhance the messaging experience, but do so at the expense of privacy.
Rewind a few years ago and I was looking for a private messasing app that was secure and easy to use. My wife and I tried using all the usual suspects:
They all fell short for a few reasons.
- Either one of us could accidently send a message to someone else.
- Content control, i.e. how easy was it for the author to delete a message that would prevent the other user from archiving it.
- Preventing “prying eyes” from side glancing messages
With Significant Other you’ll never accidentally send to your mom, kid’s friend’s mom or platform that is questionable. If the NSA themselves came to my house with a gun to my head I cannot access your message data.
The app uses the same backend technology, CloudKit, that Apple uses for their 1st party apps. i.e. Numbers, Pages, Photos, etc.
Regardless of how you initially connected with your significant other (Match, Tinder, IRL, etc.) is irrelevant. Signifcant Other is the app you use afterwards. Parents, friends and children shouldn’t accidentally be the recipents of messages. Receiving messages shouldn’t make for awkward play dates, company outings or happy hour at the bar.
How & Why
You and your Significant Other need to download the app, accept discovery and one of you invites the other. Because the app utilizes the authentication already made by signining into your phone with your AppleID there are no additional accounts needed. You cannot reshare any message, video or image via the app…period.
In the app’s settings you can toggle extra security features: * Set a PIN for unlocking the app when the app is brought back into the foreground * Set Touch/FaceID authentication when the is brought back into the foreground
In the event that you or your Significant Other wants to break IRL, there is a digital breakup feature in the app. It deletes all messages, videos, images sent and resets your relationship status.
Out of the box Significant Other will load 30 messages at a time, similiar to Slack model. You can unlock unlimited history via a one time in-app purchase of $1.99. This is a one and done purchase. Once purchased you get unlimited history for as long as you used the app.
Quick note regarding onboarding
By building the app with Apple’s backend, CloudKit, there are a few items that I don’t have control over. For example, alerts asking the user for discovery by email. I’m not a fan of the verbiage or the presentation. The purpose of email discovery is to provide a secure way for your Significant Other to look you up.
I do not in any shape, form or factor, upload or manipulate your address book to any external servers or services
During the invite portion of onboarding, if you can grant access to your contacts then a lookup occurs to see who in your addressbook has downloaded the app, as well as, allowed for discovery. This is optional, but provides a much better experience to picking your partner.
Simplicity and Privacy
When I started working on the app I had a clear vision that I didn’t want it to be Snapshat, Instagram or Messenger. Those apps exist and are awesome, but also come with some baggage. Privacy concerns, confusing UI and try to be the Swiss Army Knife of communication apps.
The main differentiators that I was developing for were intimacy and privacy.
- There isn’t way to communicate with anyone other than your Signficiant Other.
- There isn’t a way to store messages, videos or photos locally on your phone.
- Sharing calendars, to-do lists, etc. are handled much better by other apps.
Signficiant Other is about sharing personal messages with your one and only.
Enlight of recent revelations with Facebook and Twitter I’m even more committed to user privacy. It is impossible for anyone outside of you and your Significant Other to see private communications. When you send / receive messages it is stored to your Apple account’s privated or shared database, which is one of the reasons why I went with CloudKit as my backend. Apple is commited to user privacy in a way that others are not and I feel confident that this culture and advocacy will continue.
Working on the Fun Stuff
Now that the app is launched the fun work begins…marketing. Though marketing isn’t the main hat that I wear I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this facet of releasing a product.
I’ve got the next six months of features mapped out which will include some UI tweaks, Apple Watch, SiriKit and HealthKit.
Significant Other: Keeping your messages off the record and shared only with your significant other.