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Anonymous App Secret Gets Major Redesign, Looks Like a Lot of Other Anonymous Apps

Wait, is that Secret?

Anonymous messaging app Secret was updated Thursday, and the new version looks almost nothing like the old one — new logo, new color scheme, new design, new features. The app’s anonymity element is one of the only parts that appears to have carried over to the new version.

Secret now lets users contribute anonymous posts to three separate groups: Your friends (and friends of friends), your colleagues at work and those nearby. The groups are completely separate. For example, posting in the “San Francisco” group doesn’t mean your contacts outside of the city will see your secret, even if they’re your friend.

For the work group, users will be asked to sign up with their company email to verify their employer. Secret has been working on a “Secret for Work” feature for months now, and company co-founder Chrys Bader told Re/code dozens of companies are already using it, including thousands of employees from Facebook and Google.

 The new Secret stream (left) versus the old design
The new Secret stream (left) versus the old design
Secret

Secret also added private messaging, so if you see another user say something smart (or dumb) and want to discuss, you can do so within the app. Messages disappear after they’ve been idle for 24 hours, and both parties remain anonymous throughout the messaging experience, said Bader.

Secret has also changed its layout, showing users five secrets at a time instead of one or two. The new look is similar to Twitter — smaller, bite-size updates to scroll through.

All of the changes, while new to Secret, are not new altogether. Many of the features are popular as part of other apps. The location-based secrets are popular with Yik Yak, work-based secrets are the main staple for anonymous app Canary and disappearing private messages are from Snapchat.

Bader said that while Secret is certainly influenced by other products on the market, these ideas have been on the company’s radar for over a year. In other words: Bader says Secret isn’t just swiping them from the competition.

The update comes just a few weeks after a GigaOm report that the company’s growth had stalled, a concern considering Secret has taken on more than $30 million in venture funding over the past year.

Part of the downturn is because of the app’s shutdown in Brazil, where the service was incredibly popular. It was banned because of cyber bullying concerns. “Being taken out of Brazil definitely hurt us, but we’re working on that,” Bader said.

Other issues, like user retention, have also been a problem, according to Bader, and the latest update is intended to fix that.

“The goal of this version is [fixing] some of those [retention] challenges,” he said. “It needs to be ultimately useful. It needs to be something people can use for years, which is why we’re focusing on conversations like chat, and bringing in context with work and school.”

When it comes to anonymous messaging, having more features isn’t always better. Yik Yik and another anonymous app, After School, have both been troubled by location-based messages when high school or middle school students join the conversation. Those anonymous communities have become localized message boards for bullies and harassment, and some students are even using them to send threats.

Yik Yak has introduced geo-fences to its app, essentially disabling it around high school and middle school areas. Bader said Secret won’t do that right away, but added, “We’ll be paying close attention.”

The app update will be available on iOS and Android Thursday.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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