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Introducing Gliph for iOS 1.90

Screenshot of the new Activity View for Gliph for iOS version 1.90We’ve just released a fantastic update to the Gliph iPhone application which you can download the update from the App Store today!

The update, (version 1.90), is part of a larger release that includes an a new Gliph Android application and the introduction of a brand new Gliph Desktop Web app.

This is also Gliph’s first iOS release using ReactiveCocoa and Gliph’s new and improved backend system. You can read more about that effort here.  OK, on to the updates!

Bitcoin is Back

This is such important news, it has its own blog post. But let’s dig into exactly what the Gliph iOS App can do with Bitcoin. With the new Gliph iOS app you can:

  • Attach a Coinbase or Blockchain Bitcoin wallet to your Gliph account
  • View balance wallet and past transactions performed using Gliph
  • Send Bitcoin to any other Gliph user that also has a Bitcoin wallet attached
  • Send Bitcoin to any QR code Bitcoin wallet address using a new QR code scanner

Support for Secure Group Messaging

Screenshot of a group messaging conversationGliph now supports secure group messaging! That’s right, you can now assemble and manage your own groups on Gliph! In this version of the iOS app, you can participate in groups, though group creation needs to be done on the web.

For more information about secure Group Messaging on Gliph please see this post.

Profile and Group Photos

You can now add a Profile Photo facet as part of your Gliph profile. It has the same privacy options as other Gliph facets, like phone number or your name. You can have it be Public, Private or Private and shared with specific people or groups.

All new users are offered the ability to set a Profile Photo, but you can do this now by visiting the menu and choosing Profile.

Refreshed Activity View

The Activity View has been refreshed with a new message unread indicator and the display of Profile photos. The view should also refresh more quickly to accurately reflect the read status of the messages there.

Coming Soon

There are a few things we left out of 1.90 to get it out the door for you. This includes message delay and timed expiration. We also weren’t able to get the complete Create Group capability into this version, but you can still do that using the mobile web.  We plan to fill in these gaps, and continue to refine this experience over the next few releases.

Privacy Policy Update

Today, we published an update to Gliph’s Privacy Policy. Privacy is a foundational aspect of the Gliph platform, so we’d like to explain exactly what changes have been made and why.

Introduction Section

Changed: “Your Privacy is our Mission” to “Introduction”
Reason: We felt this was too splashy. This document is an outline of privacy considerations for Gliph users.

Removed: “Your Facet information is, by default, kept private.”
This graphic shows the difference in what it is like to have a Name or pseudonym versus only having a gliph.Reason: Many users have given us feedback that it is too confusing to see people as Gliph’s only. In our own use of Gliph, we notice that in the great majority of cases, people do want to be seen as either their First Name or Pseudonym, rather than a symbol-based username. It is just much easier to recognize who is who.

For this reason, during sign-up and while editing profile we will set certain facets to Public by default if we feel it dramatically improves the overall Gliph experience. We will still provide you the option to set them to Private before they are saved the first time, or at any time after initial setup.

Removed: “We provide the platform; you have the control.”
Reason: We don’t feel like this adds information to the privacy policy. Continue reading

Gliph Adds Secure Group Messaging

Today we’re releasing secure group messaging for Gliph! We’re excited about this release for two reasons: Gliph users have been requesting group messaging and because group messaging is our first release to leverage the powerful improvements we made recently to the Gliph platform.

There are many group messaging apps to choose from, so what makes group messaging on Gliph unique?

  • Strong Identity Controls – Leverage Gliph’s unique privacy capabilities to show your real name to one group on Gliph, and a pseudonym to another.
  • Data impermanence / Deletion – Erase history by deleting any of your messages permanently from a group conversation, removing it for all group members.
  • Protection from Group Snooping – Keep your conversations completely private to you and your group members using Closed Groups in combination with Lockdown Privacy Protection.

It also has some terrific features that make it a great choice for all your Group messaging needs:

  • Cross-Platform – Include Android, iOS, and web users in your group conversations. Access the discussion from your mobile, tablet or desktop computer.
  • Group Profile Photos – Represent your group with a nice photo. (Admin set)
  • Group Notification Preferences – Choose whether to get notifications from any given group.
  • Group Invitation Links – Open groups have single links that allow people new to Gliph to sign up and automatically join your group.

These features also come with new System Messages, which helps show when someone has been invited to or removed from the group.

Group messaging has been requested by Gliph users for a long time, so we’re very pleased to bring it to market on all of Gliph’s clients. Enjoy!

Apple App Store Guidelines Update Adds Clarity on Bitcoin Transmission

ios app store apple bitcoin ios wwdc 2014Apple has unveiled a variety of updates across their software ecosystem at WWDC 2014, including changes to their App Store Review Guidelines. A particular passage has been identified as possibly positive for Bitcoin ecosystem developers:

Purchasing and Currencies
11.17 Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions

This is a new item in section 11, Purchasing and currencies that was not in the last revision of the guidelines.

In addition to this change, the standard program agreement for iOS has a new additional term that is likely relevant to applications interested in offering Bitcoin functionality:

Use of the In-App Purchase API
2.2 You may not enable end-users to purchase Currency of any kind through the In-App Purchase API, including but not limited to any Currency for exchange, gifting, redemption, transfer, trading or use in purchasing or obtaining anything within or outside of Your Application.

“Currency” means any form of currency, points, credits, resources, content or other items or units recognized by a group of individuals or entities as representing a particular value and that can be transferred or circulated as a medium of exchange.”

Let’s dive into some analysis: Continue reading

Nominate Gliph Best Mobile App for First Annual Blockchain Awards

Gliph is was in the running for the Bitcoin Foundation’s first annual Blockchain Awards.

The Blockchain Awards are being put on by the Bitcoin Foundation and, and will be presented in Amsterdam at the upcoming Bitcoin 2014 conference. The awards cover a variety of categories, including Most Insightful Journalist, and Most Impactful Charity.

Nicolas Cary, CEO of Blockchain, explains that “with these awards we hope to take a moment and reflect on the amazing contributions from the Bitcoin community. We want to honor the exceptional quality, leadership, and technical innovation we see every day.”

Update: Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet for Android won this award! We think Mycelium team is also doing some really cool things and congratulate them on the win. The other finalist was Airbitz.

We Updated some of Gliph’s Systems

Over the past few months the Gliph team has been working on a project to improve how things work behind the scenes. If you’re following the company and want the inside scoop on what’s new that you can’t see, this blog post is for you.

We’re excited about improving peer-to-peer transactions and providing a great platform for identity. In following this passion, we’ve iterated on Gliph by adding new features and changing the way the system works.

Some of the additions were in response to insights along the way. For example when we learned that  the majority of Craigslist deals were handled via email and lacked privacy, we built Cloaked Email to make that a better experience. Later, we realized Bitcoin would be a a fantastic way to close transactions and built in simple Bitcoin transfer into Gliph secure messaging.

We’ve learned a lot about email and believe communication can be faster and better than that. GliphMe‘s secure and private instant channel is the first of our efforts here.

Adding these capabilities over time caused a build-up of technical debt. And like any debt, it can not be ignored. But unlike some debt, it wasn’t the type of thing that could be paid off slowly over time. As a result, this re-factor was focused on two areas of the Gliph platform:

Continue reading

This New Gas Pump Lets You Pay with Bitcoin

Sit back and imagine a future where you pull up to a pump and pay for your gas using Bitcoin. This vision may be closer than you think. Thermo dynamics researcher, Bitcoin enthusiast and DIY pro, Andy Schroder, has just created the world’s first commercial-ready Bitcoin fuel pump.

Schroder built the machine from scratch, integrating components that would handle Bitcoin’s specific requirements, offer solid uptime and work within the national standards for dispensing fuel commercially.

From a distance, Schroder’s fuel pump looks like one you would find at a mom and pop style gas station; the size is a bit shorter than what you’d normally see at a 76 station today. But the small-town sentiment ends when you walk up to the machine.

The digital display on the front shows the current milli-Bitcoin-based market-rate for fuel at the time of purchase. Getting a fill-up is easy if you Continue reading

Let’s Get Technical – How We’ve Used MongoDB to Build Gliph

gliph mongodb technical backend database mmsGliph co-founder and CTO, Nick Asch, authored a new blog entry on how Gliph has used MongoDB as one of its databases.

The entry was published in the official MongoDB MMS Blog and focuses on how MongoDB Management Service (MMS) can help track system stats and handle unexpected loads.

Here’s a paragraph from the entry:

“A service like Gliph has fairly complicated components, including user data encryption, messaging with scheduled delivery and expiry, integration with major wallet providers (each with their own API), among many other pieces. We’re a small team adding features quickly, and iterating is easiest when your system is stable. But our system wasn’t always as robust as it is today!”

Read the complete writeup at the MMS Blog

How to Delete Messages on Gliph

One of the unique aspects of Gliph is that you can permanently delete messages and other data in the system. This blog entry explains how message deletion works on Gliph, how it is different from most messaging apps and why we believe the removal of data is part of a solid privacy experience.

What happens to Information We Put Online?
It is hard to understand what happens to data we store online. Every text we send, every picture that is transmitted, and every person we connect with is represented by data. This data is transmitted across the Internet and ultimately saved on one or many servers and sometimes multiple devices such as smartphones, desktop computers and laptops. What happens to this data?

Social platforms commonly offer “deletion” or “removal” features that make it appear that you can permanently remove stuff you have put online. Unfortunately, these services are often misrepresenting what actually happens with information.

For example, messaging services like GroupMe and Whatsapp offer to remove messages for you. But depending on the app, your unencrypted messages are saved in a database with a flag marked deleted. Services may be built in a way that they are unable to delete the message on the other person’s phone, instead only “hide” it from your end of the conversation.

For a long time, Facebook would not actually remove photos that you had deleted from your account. Now that Facebook has fixed their system, your photos actually be will be actually deleted within 30 days. Today, you can “Delete this Photo,” however Facebook’s platform may not actually delete it for weeks.

A lot of questions have been asked about how Snapchat handles removal of data. You send a photo to someone, and it is supposed to disappear within a short period of time. However, Snapchat has made it clear that images sent over the service will persist for up to 30 days or until all recipients of the image have opened the photo. More concerning to some is that snaps are not being removed properly from smartphones and can in fact be recovered.

Update (5/8/14): Snapchat settled charges from the FTC that it misrepresented how it was handling user data collection practices.

This is a pretty big problem, since if you don’t have a background in Computer Science, you must rely on what you’re being told in the interface. If it says “Delete,” does that mean right now, forever, from everywhere?

Behind the Scenes on Message Deletion on the Gliph Platform
When we first introduced message deletion on the Gliph platform, our focus was on clarifying why Gliph deletes from both sides rather than allowing complete archiving. (Please see “Our Thinking on Message Deletion“). What follows in this entry is a more general overview of what Gliph is doing with deleted messages. Continue reading