Putting secrets in texts is risky business. An email is almost certainly a no-go, as is a traditional SMS. Encrypted texting, like iMessage, is better, since only your device and the recipient’s can read the messages, but you never know who’s looking at the other end. (Sure, your friend might be alone, but they also might be showing off photos of their dog when your sensitive messages come through.)
You should already be using iPhone’s Invisible Ink
You may already be in the habit, but the best way to protect your iMessages when sending them to a friend is to use the Invisible Ink effect. If someone else happens to be looking over your friend’s shoulder while they have your conversation open, they’ll see a jumble of pixels rather than your confessions and sins. If they see the notification, even better, since it comes through as “Messages sent with Invisible Ink.”
Invisible Ink won’t save you if someone has access to the recipient’s phone and decides to swipe away the pixels to read your scandalous thoughts, but it at least offers some additional protection when sending something you don’t want other people to read. It’s perfect when privately confiding in a friend, discussing spoilers of a show, or talking about a surprise you don’t want to ruin for an onlooker.
The only exception here is if you try to use the effect with an SMS (i.e., a green text). These effects are only for iMessage, which means your iPhone will simply tack on additional text letting the recipient know what kind of effect was placed on the message. I buried the body (sent with Invisible Ink) isn’t going to help much, unfortunately.
Siri doesn’t work with Invisible Ink
When it comes to iMessages, though, there’s one fatal flaw: Siri. You would think a digital assistant could take a hint, but no: If you ask Siri to read your messages to you, and one contains Invisible Ink, it will read the entire message out loud. To add insult to injury, she’ll follow up with “sent with Invisible Ink.” (Yeah, I know it was. That was the point, Siri.)
That lack of awareness extends to CarPlay: Imagine a car full of passengers hearing a text they really shouldn’t have. Maybe it’s on you for asking Siri to read your messages out loud to the group, but if you knew that message was sent privately, you’d probably think twice.
When you offer a feature like Invisible Ink, it would make sense to go all the way to make sure those messages aren’t broadcast so easily. When Siri reads aloud an Invisible Ink message, it should lead with that and ask if you want to continue. (“This message with sent with Invisible Ink. Would you like me to read it?” would be a great start.) Apple may never make that change, though, so be careful what you text people, and be careful when asking Siri to read those texts to you.
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