Black SMS iPhone App Encrypts Your Texts, No Jailbreak Required [Review]


Private messages stay private with Black SMS
Private messages stay private with Black SMS

When Cliff Weitzman emailed me about his Black SMS iPhone app, I was impressed by the pitch alone. An App Store app that encrypts text messages and emails between iPhones and iPads? Sign me up!

Black SMS accomplishes a task that I haven’t seen anything from the App Store come close to replicating. It does indeed encrypt your texts and emails so that they are unreadable without the Black SMS app and an associated password. CIA agents and paranoid boyfriends should take notice of this one.

For a non-jailbreak solution, Black SMS is pretty straightforward to use. The app works with iMessage to send black chat bubbles between iPhones. You create your encrypted message in the Black SMS app (which, admittedly, could use some design work). Enter your password in the top line followed by the actual text message. Tap the ‘lock’ icon and Black SMS prompts you to open iMessage and paste the black chat bubble into a new message. Send it along and you’re good to go.

On the iPhone that’s receiving the encrypted message, the Black SMS will need to be installed. (Hopefully you’ve told the password to your partner in crime beforehand over a method of communication that isn’t a text message.) The other person will copy the black chat bubble you send into the iPhone’s clipboard, open the Black SMS app, and paste it into the large box after entering the password in the top line. Tap the ‘unlock’ icon and presto! The same process can be applied to send and receive an encrypted email link.

Black SMS doesn’t come without its flaws. When a black chat bubble is sent, the app encodes it as a small rainbow-like image. That means you’ll technically be sending an MMS, not an iMessage or SMS. It will take a few more seconds to send an MMS, and some texting plans don’t include unlimited MMS usage. Also, the Black SMS app can’t send you into Apple’s Messages app on its own, so you have to leave the app and switch between the two manually.

Messages are sent with AES encryption, making it nearly impossible for someone to decrypt a good password. The black chat bubbles in iMessage will remain unreadable, so you won’t have to fear prying eyes. If you have a reason to use something like this, Black SMS is definitely worth the $1 price tag. Grab it now as a universal download for the iPhone and iPad in the App Store.