When you are typically using your smartphone to text family or friends, you probably do not put too much thought into hiding the contents of the messages from prying eyes. But, for those times when you do wish to keep your communications under wraps, California-based startup Kibo has sprung to the rescue.
Kibo, which is currently only available on iOS (but coming soon to Android), operates as a keyboard, allowing users to send secret messages by typing text into the input field and pressing “lock”, replacing what you have just written with innocent-seeming text. Having received a hidden message, users are then required to copy the visible message onto the clipboard (by long-tapping or double-tapping), a move that reveals the secret text in a pop-up window within the app. For the time being, they tell me that they are offering the service for free and that they plan to permanently offer the ability to hide text for free. They intend to roll out paid features, but declined to provide further details at the moment.
Kibo has declared its commitment to privacy, stating that they do not require a phone number or email address of users and that they do not store the user’s contacts. The startup also says that their keyboard is compatible with a range of popular IM services, including WhatsApp, Viber, VK, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WeChat, Talk, Line, and more.
What is interesting is that they reveal up front that the inspiration for creating this service came to one of the co-founders after he had discovered that his girlfriend had been secretly reading his text messages. He did not want to argue with her, but he also wanted to maintain his privacy, so he reached out to a friend about private messaging services. Realizing that using such a service may serve as a red flag, he joined with others to develop Kibo.
Kibo only launched a couple of weeks ago, but already claims 18,000 users. In terms of funding, one of the co-founders told me that they have been in contact with a “familiar investor”, who provided the funding necessary for final development of the platform. They have been issued a provisional patent application and intend to soon think about further investment rounds.