Anonymous messaging app Secret is expanding worldwide, less than a month after it became available outside the US for the first time.
The app lets users share short text and image posts to friends and the broader community completely anonymously, and has been described as "Twitter without usernames". Users' friends are pulled automatically from their address book, but posts and comments are not linked message-to-message.
From Wednesday, the app will be available to download anywhere in the world, although without localisation for specific languages, it will only be useful for users who can speak English.
"We're getting so much demand that we don't see the point in holding it back," explains co-founder Chrys Bader. The app launched in the UK in April, alongside Ireland and Australasia, and Bader says that success in those areas motivated the company to push forward plans for going worldwide.
"It definitely validated the international expansion. It gave us a different perspective: Our users were interacting across countries, and it was very interesting to see."
"I think that we're particularly interested in Brazil, and curious to see how Japan uses it. But, really, now everyone in the world has an app for this, and I'm really excited to see how Secret thrives in all these different cultures."
The app is also coming to Android for the first time, complete with new features exclusively for the Google-owned operating system. The Android version will split Secret's monolithic feed in two: one will show updates from friends, while the other, named "explore", will show the best posts from around the world.
"We wanted to show that Android can have new features first," Bader told the Guardian. "And we wanted to reward them for waiting all this time." The Android development is led by Sara Haider, one of Secret's highest-profile new hires who was poached from Twitter in mid-March.
While Bader confirms that those features will probably be added to iOS at some point, Apple's platform isn't left out in the cold. A new feature that will hit both platforms simultaneously encourages users to share specific facts about themselves.
"We were calling them icebreakers internally. One we had recently asked 'What's the last lie that you told?' We're trying to give people more stuff to share."
Once users have answered, they can push the same question to their friends, to encourage them to share too – all anonymously, of course.
The feature should overcome an initial difficulty new users report, which is trying to work out information just unspecific enough to avoid identifying the speaker, but still juicy enough to be worth sharing. "It also gives our community team something to interact with," says Bader, pointing out that the app as it stands offers few chances for interaction between the users and Secret itself.
Other changes will tackle some of the obfuscation necessary to make Secret work. Currently, users can't see their friends list to prevent them reverse-engineering who exactly is sending particular messages; that secrecy goes so far as preventing them from seeing how many friends they have, beyond certain thresholds. Some of those restrictions are being lifted, and users will now see simple information about their followers incorporated into their stream.
"We definitely walk a fine line [between ease of use and obfuscation], because given the nature of how it works, you need to make sure that no-one can pinpoint who you are," says Bader. "But how do you explain that to users? We're constantly trying to make it make sense."
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