Does it Work?: Tiger Text’s disappearing text messages

Remember that guy Tiger Woods? He was the main man behind some big infidelity scandal in the media?

Well, this app has nothing to do with him, allegedly. Despite the timing of its release (almost exactly a week after Woods’s press conference apology-a-looza) and its elusive name, the Tiger Text app that wipes your iPhone clean of any questionable text messages was in development long before the golfer’s infidelity surfaced at the tail end of last year (see what we did there?), according to the developers.

But how exactly could this possibly work? How can an app simply erase a text message from both the sender and the receiver’s phones at a specific time? Does it really work? Well, the short answer is that it can’t…but it kind of can.

In this installment of “Does it Work?” we check out the newest “for cheating on your spouse” app that’s all abuzz and see if it actually does get the deed done.

Think Tiger Text will work? Check out our assessment after the jump.


So Tiger Text claims to erase your text message trail on your iPhone and also control how and when the messages you send out are deleted from the receiver’s phone. It’s not a lie, per se, but more of an exaggeration.

Here’s how it works:

First of all, realize that you are sending messages via an app, which, technically, is not a text message (SMS). Think of it as more of an instant messaging client app. When you send a message to a “friend,” the message is transmitted via Tiger Text’s server to the other person. Based on the settings you create in your app, Tiger Text’s server will delete the message from your phone (and the receiver’s phone) upon read, a day later, an hour later, or basically however much later you’d like. You can also control how much of your message history stays on your phone (in the app, remember). So basically what you’re controlling is not your phone, but your presence on Tiger Text’s server.

Getting Started:

You do need an account with Tiger Text to even begin using the app. Downloading Tiger Text is free, as is setting up an account, but using the app down the road will cost you a bit (just a little). The first 15 days of use are free, and you are allotted 100 free messages to try out the app. After that, it costs $0.99 per 250 messages sent over a month or $1.99 per month for unlimited messages. You won’t be charged just for trying the app out, so don’t fret.

Signing up for an account is quick and easy, but something to remember: Though you sign in at first use with a username and password, every time after that you don’t have to sign into the app to access it. And although, yes, the whole point of the app is that it erases your messages and gets them off of your phone, how does it make sense that just anyone could log into your Tiger Text app by picking your iPhone and nosying around on it?

Next, you need to adjust your settings. This is the juicy part. Control the lifespan of messages, as they are automatically deleted after however much time you choose (from one minute to 30 days); choose to have the “delete history” function on or off to erase all message history in the app; and choose to have the “delete on read” function on or off to erase a message from both phones immediately after it is read. It’s all just so Mission: Impossible, isn’t it?

You can also keep track of your subscription in your settings tab by seeing how many days and subscriptions you have left in your trial.

“Well, c’mon, did it work or not?!”

In short, yes, Tiger Text is very effective at erasing messages sent via the app. With the “delete on read” function turned on, once you open a message from someone else it is erased about a minute thereafter. It’s obvious just how magical this app is when you’re having a conversation in the app and you see the text in those previous message bubbles from just a few minutes ago disappear and get replaced with a few little tiger pawprints. How clever!

You can also see how much time is left before each message will be erased. Messages cannot be copied or forwarded on, either, and this includes copy+pasting text from the message into another app.

The Catch(es):

  • Remember that handy little thing called a screenshot? Yep, you can still do that while you’re using the Tiger Text app. Press the home button and the lock button at the same time, and, voila, you have photographic proof of some skeevy messaging.
  • Like we said, the app itself is not password-protected. Combine this flaw with the fact that you have a “friends” list in the app that identifies the people you message with and you have a recipe for getting figured out pretty darn quickly. Let’s say a person was using Tiger Text to hide flirtatious messages with someone from a spouse. Then let’s say said spouse opens this app on said person’s phone and immediately sees a list of said someones. Suspicious much?
  • Also, with all of the media attention this app has garnered, wouldn’t anyone be suspicious of their partner even having this app on their iPhone? Seems like that cute little orange tiger icon is a ticket straight to the doghouse if there ever was one at this point.
  • *Note: EverythingiCafe does not, in any way, condone infidelity. iPhone app-supported or not.

Conclusion:

Sure, the app is a little misleading, in that it really doesn’t erase your SMS text messages from your phone. And for what it does do, it doesn’t exactly keep cheaters or sneaky folks in the clear because of a few contradictions and a little common sense. But, overall, it’s an impressive concept and a well-executed app that will probably only grow with updates and more features to come. Though Tiger Text never comes out with it and says that this is the “app for cheaters,” we can safely say this is one wrench a brave cheater should probably have in his or her toolbox. Carry on, cheaters and tools!

Wondering what else you can keep private on your iPhone? Check back next week for a roundup of helpful apps you won’t want to miss.


Tiger Text

Price: FREE

Tiger Text

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Comments

  1. Bob Mccully says

    any way of recapturing the text that disappeared? I went to the coding but it only show what appears to be the 128bit encryption and not the plaintext. Help if you can..thanks, Bob.

    • Anonymous says

      Actually yes. On the Android application, the receiver can “resend” an erased message, making it visible again. Long press on a message that has expired, and select “resend” from the menu.

      Looks like a HUGE design oversight and an outright lie on behalf of the developers. Not only is the message still stored on the device, but it’s readily made available from within the app, no developer or hax0r skills required.

  2. Crackery says

    No, once it is gone, it is gone. There is no encryption… It is literally deleted from the server and both phone. This is unlike a message that goes through say, at&t, which is saved but encrypted. tigertext is gone forever

  3. sleuthone says

    ..it doesn’t *delete* it from law enforcement’s forensic grab as every cell phone carrier has a mandatory retention period regardless of the application’s “disappearing” act.

    • Anonymous says

      Actually it never hits the carrier’s SMS network to begin with. It’s all done over the Internet, and the developer claims it to be encrypted during transit, so even if law enforcement intercepts it, all they will see is gibberish.

      HOWEVER, a year ago, a friend and I ran a packet sniffer on a phone running TigerText, and found that it was sending messages “in the clear”, with no encryption whatsoever. I was able to, on a different computer, watch messages come over the air, and read them as they were coming in, no hax0r skills needed.

  4. chris says

    Do the other person have to have the Tiger Text app for this to work? Please excuse my silly question.

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