There are any number of apps out there focused on making sure images and text self-destruct after you’ve seen them. There’s Snapchat and Telegram and Frankly and Confide and Leo and so on. Now here comes another app, called Glimpse, that hopes to make messaging safe and secure.
The app, which enables users to quickly, easily, and securely share photo and video messages with each other, seeks to “bring privacy to the mainstream,” in the words of co-founder Elissa Shevinsky.
With the app you can send a photo or video file, with or without a filter or watermark that is designed to obscure the image. It also keeps images and videos from being screencapped.
Images are truly ephemeral: They disappear after being viewed, from a user’s inbox as well as the Glimpse servers. Photos are shown for eight seconds, while video is just four seconds or shorter.
That’s kind of standard operating procedure for this type of app, but what sets Glimpse apart from most of the others, especially at a time when folks like Snapchat are getting hacked, is the company’s focus on security and encryption under the hood. According to CTO Pax Dickinson (more on him later):
Glimpse uses industry standard open source AES and RSA encryption routines to keep messages secure from end-to-end. Other apps rely on SSL or encrypt all messages with a single shared key. Glimpse ensures privacy by encrypting messages to a single private key that’s held only on the recipient’s phone.
Dickinson and Shevinsky are a bit of a surprising matchup. Dickinson, you might recall, was CTO of Business Insider before a series of chauvinistic tweets led him to resign. To team up with Shevinsky, a female founder who had been working on a series of dating applications, and roll out an app devoted to ensuring secure communications is an interesting career trajectory.
But the two have been fast friends since first meeting a year ago at SXSW. They began working on Glimpse as a side project, but in the wake of the NSA spying scandal, they decided to tackle the secure messaging problem head-on.
They’ve surrounded themselves with a group of security experts as investors and advisers, including Gramercy Fund, Trent Gegax, Greg Arrese, pretty good privacy alums Gene Hoffman and Bob Kohn, Kelly Hoey, and Barak Michener. They are also offering a bug bounty for those who find vulnerabilities in their app.
Will it be enough in a market that’s already flooded with disappearing message apps? Do users care about making sure their messages are that secure? Only time will tell.