Even when you harbor deep, dark secrets, you still feel a stinging need to share them with the world. You know you do. And it can be tough to figure out the best way to anonymously share those inner thoughts. You may have heard about Secret and Whisper, two popular and recently funded mobile apps that allow users create juicy posts while hiding their true identities. You can also browse these anonymous secrets, and respond to and share favorites.
The two apps have one thing in common: each keeps its users completely anonymous. But that's where the similarities end — the two apps use very different methods to share your secrets. Not sure which app to pick? We put both Secret and Whisper to the test to help you decide.
If you want to share your private thoughts on Secret, you'll need to be a member of the Apple ecosystem. Secret is currently iOS only, so none of you Android can yet view your Apple-carrying friends' juicy secrets.
Whisper is more widely available, with versions for both iOS and Android, which makes for a much larger pool of users.
Winner: Whisper. If you have an Android device, you can't use Secret. That leaves a large group of people out of the fun.
2. Sign-Up Process
You may be anonymous, but both Secret and Whisper need to collect some information from you before you can start sharing. Secret needs the most information, because the app is specifically based around your friends and friends of friends. When you first open the app, you need to input your email address and phone number, and Secret will anonymously find and connect you with your friends who are also using Secret.
Whisper, instead, shows you posts from all over the world as soon as you install the app. It only asks for information once you want to create your own post or interact with someone else's. Whisper assigns each user a unique, anonymous user name, which you can change to something else if you want. The app also hides all your posts, notifications and messages behind a PIN. Once you've created your PIN, you're ready to start creating and interacting on Whisper.
Winner: Whisper. You can use the Whisper app quickly while sharing as little information as possible, but Secret requires both your email address and phone number.
3. Interface and Design
The Secret timeline looks a lot like Instagram's feed, allowing users to scroll vertically through a single list of square posts. Each post has important information at the bottom, including the number of likes and whether the secret comes from a friend or a more distant connection. Secret fits in perfectly with the new iOS 7 aesthetic, with its flattened design and icons, rather than buttons. The interface feels sleek and modern, with all unnecessary information hidden from view.
Whisper doesn't have quite the same elegance as Secret. Posts are arranged in a grid, which allows users to see a significantly higher number of posts, but this makes the app look busy. Whisper is also much more image-centric, which only adds to the amount of information crammed onto your smartphone's screen.
But Whisper has a feature that Secret lacks: it lets you browse posts in different categories, such as Popular, Nearby, Featured and Latest. In a title row above all the posts in the main screen, users can swipe horizontally to navigate among categories. Whisper's menu and messages area swipe in from the left and right, copying the design trend first popularized by the iOS Facebook app.
Winner: Secret. Even though Whisper has more options, its interface is not quite as clean and modern as Secret's.
4. Creating new posts
Creating a post in Whisper is always a fun surprise. Users are prompted to enter the text of the post, and then the app automatically searches the Internet for a related picture, and inserts it into the post. You can change this picture, but part of the fun comes in seeing what Whisper automatically suggests. Users can also take a picture or choose one from their library, but the automatic Internet image search is a great feature.
In addition to changing the background image, users can also choose among four different fonts. Unfortunately, none of the fonts are very attractive. One font, which bears a resemblance to Times New Roman, is even difficult to read.
The post-creation feature on Secret is more complicated than on Whisper, but the results look more polished. Users can swipe left or right to choose a solid-color background, and up and down to select a background texture. If a user selects an image from the library, swiping horizontally adjusts blur, and swiping vertically changes image brightness. There's no option to change the font, but the default typography is modern and easy to read.
Winner: Secret. Secret posts look like works of art, while Whisper posts look amateurish and are often hard to read.
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5. Interacting with others
Secret is all about who you know, so don't expect posts from random people to fill your feed. Secrets can travel across friend groups, however, so you might see a particularly popular post from a friend of a friend of a friend. Thanks to this setup, you'll always wonder just how you're connected to each post's creator. This fills the Secret experience with intrigue, since you know that a connection exists, but you don't know the details.
When a user likes a post on Secret, the app then shares that post with all of the user's friends. The original poster can see the number of people who have liked a post, but will never know who those people actually are. Each post has its own comment thread, allowing anyone to jump in and share his or her thoughts on a specific topic.
Whisper also allows users to like and comment on posts, but offers the added feature of private messages. If a user is particularly taken by someone’s post but doesn't want to post a public comment, he or she can send a message to that user directly, and hold a private, anonymous conversation.
Winner: Whisper. Secret is like a walled garden, but Whisper lets you interact with everyone. Plus, you can send private messages on Whisper.
6. Maintaining Anonymity
What does it mean to be anonymous? Whisper takes a more common approach, assigning each user a unique username under which all that user's interactions are grouped. While this has certain benefits, such as allowing for a private message system, users can still track individual posts back to a single username with enough work.
Secret takes anonymity to the next level. No one on Secret has an assigned username. Instead, you can only interact with an individual user through a comment thread. Secret assigns each comment poster a unique image for each thread, allowing interaction within that specific conversation, but no point of reference to any other posts. You could be talking to the exact same person in a different thread, and you'd have no way of knowing.
Winner: Secret. By ditching the traditional anonymous username model, Secret maintains a high level of anonymity.
On Secret, everyone on your feed is either a friend or a friend of a friend. So it feels a lot like other social networks, such as Instagram or Twitter, except completely anonymous. Whisper doesn't have the same restrictions, but the openness tends to attract a much younger crowd. Whisper is full of posts about parents and school, which can be alienating if you're above that average age range.
Winner: Secret. It's easier to ensure a good community experience when your feed is limited to friends and friends of friends. By opening itself up to everyone, Whisper feels a little like middle school.
Overall Winner: Secret
Even though Whisper and Secret are both vessels for posting anonymous secrets, they're very different applications with very different communities. In a seven-round showdown, Secret came out on top. Even though it's a much more closed community, Secret also presents a much more curated experience since everyone is either a friend or a friend of a friend. Our biggest complaint is that Secret is iOS only, leaving all our Android friends out of the anonymous conversation.
Ultimately, Secret is the better of the two apps, and provided a much sleeker and more modern experience. Hopefully, a version for Google's OS will be available soon.
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