Last September we reported on the alpha version of BitTorrent’s Bleep messaging app. While its features are otherwise broadly similar to any other messaging app, BitTorrent claims that the app keeps your conversations private.
Now with the release of an iOS app, Bleep is publicly available across all platforms. If that wasn’t enough, BitTorrent announced a cool new feature it calls “whispers” yesterday. These messages are as close as you can get to spycraft, as they disappear within 25 seconds of being viewed.
By default, whisper messages don’t display the username or profile photo of the person you’re chatting with. This is to protect against screenshots of potentially compromising data. If you forget who it is you’re chatting with, you can tap the the eye icon to see, but this blurs the conversation — you can never see, and nor can anyone else ever see, both at the same time.
So why is BitTorrent Bleep supposed to be more private than other messaging apps? While most chat clients rely on centralized servers to pass messages back and forth, Bleep uses the same peer-to-peer approach that BitTorrent file sharing uses to cut out the middleman.
This approach may indeed make Bleep more private by default than most private messaging apps, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be compromised. Your messages are still travelling over networks and can thus be snooped — it’s just more difficult. Similarly, while the whisper messages make screenshots more difficult, it’s fairly easy to take two screenshots – one of the conversation and one of the person’s name – and combine them.
Still, Bleep has its advantages. The lack of centralized servers means that you don’t have to worry about a server being down when you need to send an urgent message to a friend, and the whisper feature is undeniably cool, even if it is a bit of a gimmick.
Bleep also offers other privacy-focused features like the ability to send messages without signing up, as well as easy deleting of message history, and you can even make voice calls to other Bleep users over Wi-Fi or cellular data.