Android iPhone and iPad Security

Obliviate Sends Secret, Self-Destructing Messages to Anyone

Ben Stegner 19-02-2018

Obliviate is a new app from MakeUseOf that lets you send self-destructing messages. It’s great for sharing secret messages with friends that you don’t want sticking around on their phone, among other use cases.


Download: obliviate for Android and iOS.

obliviate secret messages overview

The app lets you set a timer between 5 and 180 seconds for how long your messages will last. Once the recipient opens it, the message will disappear after a set time. And if you change your mind, you can immediately obliviate messages and bypass the timer.

Best of all, the obliviate is free and has no ads; never will. Plus, you cannot take screenshots in the app or copy the content of the messages (this feature is currently available on Android only, coming soon on iOS). This prevents others from recording messages you intended to be private.

Unlike other chat apps that have self-destruct options, obliviate doesn’t display chat history for increased security and privacy.


Using obliviate to Send Self-Destructing Messages

After you’ve downloaded obliviate, go ahead and open it. Tap the Get Started button, and you’ll need to enter your phone number to sign in. This lets you use the app without having to remember yet another annoying password.

After signing in, grant obliviate permission to access your contacts when asked, so you can easily recognize other registered obliviate users.

obliviate self-destructing messages sign in

To send a self-destructing message, tap the obliviate button at the bottom of the screen. This will bring up a list of your contacts. Those who have obliviate installed will appear at the top with a purple dot next to their names. Tap the contact you want to message. Even if they’re not using obliviate yet, tapping on their name will enable you to send them an invitation to join.


On the compose screen, simply type out your secret message and tap Send. You’ll see a confirmation that the message sent and will indicate whether it’s been read. Tap the Back arrow to return to the app’s home and you can view your message list. If they haven’t read your message yet, you’ll see a Sent status.

obliviate send secret messages status

Tapping their name will bring you back to the message screen. Here, you can tap the obliviate button to immediately obliviate (destroy) the message. This will take effect whether they’re reading it or haven’t opened it yet. If the message is read, the timer will start counting down. Once it reaches zero, the secret message will be destroyed.

Whenever you receive a message, you’ll see it on the home screen. Tap it to read it, but remember that it won’t last long!


obliviate self-destructing messages


Obliviate holds a few settings you can change to maximize your experience with the app. Tap the Settings icon in the upper-right to access them.

Use the obliviate timer option to adjust the self-destruct countdown. Anywhere from five seconds to 180 seconds is supported. The default is 60 seconds.

Disable Push notifications (they’re enabled by default) if you don’t want to see system notifications for new messages.


If you want to secure your private messages, enable the Passcode lock option. This lets you set a four-digit passcode to secure the app. It’s a great measure of extra security to prevent prying eyes from accessing your messages. If you enable the passcode lock, you can also use your fingerprint to unlock app (on supported devices) and FaceID on iPhone X.

obliviate secret self-destructing messages settings

Finally, on the Settings menu, you can view MakeUseOf’s other apps like NeedHave NeedHave Inspires Goodwill Donations in Your Community NeedHave is an app built around reusing goods in your community, donate products you no longer need, or request donations when you need a particular item. Read More and share the app with friends, and log out if needed.

Start Messaging in Secret With obliviate

Now you can message securely without worrying about prying eyes. There’s no company keeping a record of your messages, and they don’t stay on your friend’s phone either. With no screenshots and copying allowed (Android only, coming soon on iOS) and a passcode for extra security, there’s no way anyone will see your messages without permission.

Coming soon, obliviate hopes to add encryption, support for audio, pictures, and videos, custom notification sounds, and more! We hope you enjoy the app.

Download: Obliviate for Android (Free)

Download: Obliviate for iOS (Free)

What do you think of obliviate? Do you like messaging friends in secret? Please share your feedback on this app with us below!

Image Credit: Vintage cassette tape recorder via DepositPhotos

Related topics: Encryption, Instant Messaging, MakeUseOf Apps, Smartphone Privacy, SMS.

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  1. Mike
    April 25, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    "We have sent you an SMS with a code to the number."

    I have tried this four times and never get a code. What is the problem?

  2. Jim
    February 27, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Why was I sent a text message well after I signed up with verification code

    Obliviate verification code: ****

  3. Jim
    February 27, 2018 at 8:33 am

    After I downloaded the App I got a text on my phone displaying:
    Obliviate verification code: ****
    What is this for.

  4. Debaprasad Mandal
    February 26, 2018 at 2:19 am

    I wondered if this application is available for use in India. I tried. But it says phone number invalid.

  5. Mizrable
    February 23, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Sounds good. Now can you make a return to sender button for ads, spam, & other damaging junk? I'd greatly appreciate it!


  6. Moinul
    February 22, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Concept is good. But the problem lies with the fact that both users should have access to this app. And it requires internet connection. If there is a work around this issues, then it will be truly a REMARKABLE app.

    • Jackson Chung
      February 23, 2018 at 7:06 am

      Hi Moinul, thanks for your feedback! For security purposes, we require for users to install the application so messages can be retracted at any time.

  7. H
    February 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Progress is wonderful, but terrorists must be leaping for joy at this invention. Knowing how many truly bad people have been caught by the messages they leave behind, this must make the security services job so much harder.

  8. Mike Kennedy
    February 22, 2018 at 2:29 am

    But, can’t anyone screen capture the message and then have it or share it as long as they want?

    • Ben Stegner
      February 22, 2018 at 2:43 am

      Hi Mike,

      Taking a screenshot is disabled inside the app, so people won't be able to capture what you've sent.

      • Mike Kennedy
        February 22, 2018 at 3:06 am

        Did I misread it? I thought it said IOS system still could screen capture? Thanks for your quick reply. I’ll try it out. I do some odd app reviews on my YouTube channel so I want to get it right.

        • Ben Stegner
          February 22, 2018 at 3:17 pm

          Hi Mike,

          I apologize; I had incorrect information. When I wrote this article, I based it on the Android version of the app. Before the article went live, one of the team members updated it with the information about iOS. As of now, screen capture is still enabled in the iOS app but they are working to prevent this in a future version.

          Thank you for your interest in the app!

    • Jackson Chung
      February 23, 2018 at 7:07 am

      Hi Mike, screen capture and copying the content of the message is disabled in Android. We're working on that feature for iOS users.

  9. Gazoo
    February 19, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    I like what the app is trying to accomplish. With the state of data-collection the way it currently is, it's a shame that an app that performs the functions of a "normal conversation" needs to be couched with terms like: Secret and Self-destructing.

    What I don't like is the need to use (and thereby collect) phone numbers. There's no reason for that in an app like this. Any account can be hacked. Once hacked, telephone numbers are out in the wild (and possibly all contacts). A password-based system is safer with no collection of contacts except for users individually added (Wire does a great job with this).

    I'll pass for privacy and security reasons...

    • Jackson Chung
      February 19, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Gazoo,

      Appreciate the feedback. Obliviate isn't a chat app - it doesn't display chat history. The original idea behind the app is to send once off, sensitive messages that can be retracted or deleted by both the sender and recipient.

      In the current version, we require a phone number as a sort of 2FA without asking the user to register. So unless the hacker has access physical to your phone, it's really quite secure since we don't store any other identifying data on our servers. Honestly your telephone number is already out in the wild. It's on your telco's database, in public directories, and perhaps even on your business cards that you hand out to strangers. It's more likely for your telco's servers to be hacked before ours.

      We don't store your contacts on your servers either. What we do is scan your contact list for registered users and just indicate who they are.

      But as I mentioned before, we do appreciate your feedback. On our end, we're developing apps that we're excited about. We're a small team of 4 and can't do what other large development companies are doing but we'll get there.

  10. Helen
    February 19, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    These functions are available in BBM for many years already .

  11. iCjay
    February 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Checked the application out, and the poor grammatical use of English leads me to believe this app is up to no good. Get WICKRMe if you want something like that.

    • Jackson Chung
      February 19, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Hey ICjay, thanks for your feedback. We proofread the app quite thoroughly. I'm curious, what grammatical errors did you find?

      WICKR is a great app! In fact we took some inspiration from it. You should know, we developed this app in-house in 30 days. We still have a long way to go in terms of refining it to achieve our vision.