A TigerText iPhone application that lets people kill embarrassing text messages after they have been sent out has been launched by a California start-up.
X Sigma Partners founder Jeffrey Evans told AFP that the smartphone program was named before fallen golf god Tiger Woods' public drubbing for philandering, which saw his alleged lovers tout text messages as proof of his indiscretions.
"I understand part of the reason people want to talk about it today is because of the name but this is not about people trying to cheat," Evans said of the TigerText launch.
"If you send a private text message it should stay private."
Tigertext.com for the iPhone is a text message trail-covering application and versions are to be available by the end of March for BlackBerry smartphones as well as those running on Android software.
"Tigers are notoriously difficult animals to track," the software makers said, noting the app was being launched in the Lunar Year of the Tiger. "TigerTexts are difficult to track as well."
People receiving the messages are prompted to download the TigerText application for free in order to read the text, which is not actually sent to the recipient's iPhone.
Instead, the message is hosted on the company's servers where it can be erased whenever the sender wishes.
Sent messages can be deleted on demand or be set to automatically vanish after a specified period. A "delete on read" feature starts a 60 second countdown when a text message is opened and then erases it at zero.
TigerText messages cannot be saved, copied or forwarded by recipients.
"Ninety-nine percent of what people want to keep private has nothing to do with cheating on a spouse or doing anything illegal," Evans said.
"How many times have you sent someone a text message and told them after they read it to delete it?"
Evans said inspiration for the application came from years he spent working in job placement and seeing how extensively potential employers mine the Internet for postings, comments or other insights regarding candidates.
"Text messages are conversations with another person; the problem is they live forever," Evans said. "I thought it would be great if messages would self-destruct in 60 seconds..."
"When the message is gone from us, it's gone," he added.
Evans doubted that TigerText would have saved Woods from his current problems.
"It might have made it so some of the things that hit didn't have proof, but his issues are much deeper than a text here or there," he said.
While reading messages is free, the service costs 1.49 dollars (US) per 250 messages sent monthly or 2.49 dollars per month for limitless messaging.