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[April 27, 2014]
The secret is out [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]
(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) They offer anonymity and avoidance, but the latest wave of smartphone apps might not offer a return to privacy.
The app Secret-Speak Freely allows users to post messages without their names.
"It's giving you a feel of privacy, but privacy doesn't really exist anymore in my view. People yearn to be private, but whatever leaves my fingers on my keyboard is no longer mine," said Abdul Sinno, chair and professor of communications at Clarke University.
Another app called Cloak bills itself as the "anti-social app," locating users' acquaintances so that they can be avoided.
Alan Garfield, head of the computer graphics and interactive media department at the University of Dubuque, doesn't see the latest apps as reactions against sharing too much information.
"I see people interested in that who share everything else as well," Garfield said.
The allure of trying a new app trumps philosophical concerns of privacy, Garfield said.
"People love to tell me how privacy is so very important to them, but their actions say something very different - they will give up all of their details so they can get 10 cents off a gallon of gas," Garfield said.
Here is a look at six recently released smartphone apps.
Cover Lock Screen (Cover.com; free for Android) The app recognizes when users are home, at work or in the car and learns which apps are used most in each context.
These frequent apps are included on the phone's lockscreen for quick glances.
Secret-Speak Freely (Secret Inc.; free for iPhone; coming for Android) Friends and friends of friends can share thoughts, gossip, criticism and other messages nearly anonymously. Users can provide their mobile phone number, email address or both when signing up. When posting a secret, users' phone and email contacts who are also on Secret will be able to see it.
Cloak (Cloak Inc.; free for iPhone) The app uses information from users' Foursquare and Instagram accounts to locate friends on a map.
Users can use it to avoid people they don't want to see.
Path (Path Inc.; free for Android and iPhone) A social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service, this app enables users to choose viewers of posts and filter feeds to include a limited number of friends.
Users can post content only on Path, or on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr.
SwiftKey Note (SwiftKey; free, limited version on iTunes, with a $3.99 full version for Android) SwiftKey's predictive text keyboard can guess entire sentences and improves its word prediction the more it is used on Android. The iPhone app allows for the predictive keyboard's use for taking notes, as iOS doesn't enable replacement keyboards.
Viber (Viber Media; free for Android and iPhone) Users can transfer a voice call from their phones to their computer and continue talking or texting.
The app also accommodates photo messages and location sharing.
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