If you're concerned about privacy, secure messaging apps like Signal can encrypt your conversations and help keep the bad guys from eavesdropping.

But what if you also have calls or texts you need to hide from those around you -- those with physical access to your phone?

Perhaps you're planning a surprise party or want to keep sensitive picture messages out of view? Either way, there’s a number of apps ready to help you go incognito.

Keep reading to see the 5 best and find the one that's right for you.

1. Telegram

Telegram is popular as a secure messaging app since it offers full end-to-end encryption. This means you don’t have to worry about anyone intercepting your messages.

But it's also an excellent way to use your phone for discreet communications...

Their Secret Chats or Self-Destructing Messages features provide multiple ways to either hide text messages and picture messages or delete them automatically after a set time.

Recent updates even allow you to delete messages from the recipient's phone from yours for added security.

Both of these take a different approach to minimize the chances of anyone snooping through your phone and finding your communications.

Price: Free
Get it: for Android | for iPhone


2. Signal

Signal offers features that make it easy to keep people out of your phone’s stored messages.

Setting a password on your inbox is the simplest route. It's also rather foolproof because you don't have to worry about missing something you want to protect when everything is protected.

You'll also find a Disappearing Messages mode. Disappearing messages allows you to automatically delete messages sent to another device after a specified time.

Both can offer protection from nosy family members, co-workers, or friends who might get their hands on your phone.

Of course, the app is also extremely secure. So you'll be protected from snooping while sending messages as well.

Price: Free
Get it: for Android | for iPhone


3. CoverMe

CoverMe offers privacy options for both texts and calls.

You can send self-destructing messages, remotely wipe the messages you sent to others, and even disguise the app as a news reading app.

If you're trying to protect files you're sending back and forth -- such as pictures -- there's a file vault which includes password protection as well. The decoy password feature lets you enter a fake password and display an empty vault if you're concerned someone might force you to sign in to the vault and share your files.

On the private calling app front, you'll find password protection for answering CoverMe calls and a private 2nd phone number that lets you choose exactly who knows the number and -- more importantly -- who doesn't.

All of these features also include full end-to-end encryption and CoverMe says they store nothing on their own servers once the message is delivered or your call is complete.

Price: Free with in-app purchases
Get it: for Android | for iPhone


4. Viber

Viber offers a nice collection of features for a secret texting and calling app.

The app enables encryption by default so you won't need to worry about anyone snooping while your messages and calls head off to their destination.

But there's also a number of secret sms and media message features as well.

Like other apps in this roundup, Viber offers the ability to lock your inbox with a PIN or send self-destructing messages. But if you're looking for a more discreet method of keeping private conversations out of sight, you can hide conversations from your main chat list as well.

Price: Free with ads and in-app purchases
Get it: for Android | for iPhone


5. Kibo

Kibo takes a very different approach from other apps in this roundup.

Instead of being a standalone private texting app, Kibo hides itself in your keyboard.

You use it with the same apps you normally use to communicate -- be that WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or even Android Messages.

It works by encoding secret messages in otherwise normal messages. It sounds a little complicated, but it's quite simple.

All you need to do to read the secret Kibo messages is long-press on the disguise message and it will show you the contents on your keyboard.

It's not the most traditional approach, but unless someone knew to look for the app, they'd be unlikely to find it. After all, if someone knows you're using a secret texting app, half of your security is already blown.

Unfortunately, it's only available on iOS at the time of writing. But Kibo says an Android version is coming soon.

Price: Free
Get it: for iPhone


Verdict

With a combination of privacy and security features, Telegram is our top pick from secret texting apps in 2019.

It's similar enough to other messaging apps that you should be able to use it without having to learn a bunch of new features and message locking, remote wiping, and self-destructing messages add extra protection from people who might snoop through your phone.

It also has some of the best chat features of any app in the roundup.

Whether you're looking to share photos and video, use funny stickers, or express yourself with GIFs, it's all there.

But be sure to experiment with all of these apps.

They all work differently and you might find an alternate favourite.


Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember that all of these apps will have strengths and weaknesses.

A huge part of keeping your phone activity private has to do with timing.

Regardless of the app you choose, disabling notifications can go a long way toward ensuring no one is prying into your call or messaging logs.

Also be mindful of where and how you use the private messaging or calling app you prefer -- these apps can't make up for a lack of discretion and good practices.

Stay safe!



P.S.If you’re just looking for a way to lock down specific apps on your Android device -- even if the feature isn’t included in the app -- check out CM Security Master. It allows you to lock any app using a pattern or fingerprint. It can also clear your browsing history and snap a picture of anyone who tries to unlock your phone and fails.

If you want to lock apps on your iPhone, here's a full guide on how to enable and configure the app lock feature in your iPhone settings.

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