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Psst, Secret's anonymous sharing app finally arrives on Android

Nicole Lee, @nicole

Up until now, Android users had to stew in envy as their iOS colleagues delighted in juicy rumors and salacious stories revealed on Secret, an app that lets you share confidential information under the veil of anonymity. Other anonymous sharing apps, like Whisper, exist on Android already of course, but few have had the clout that Secret has, especially in Silicon Valley. Thankfully, however, Android users can now jump on the Secret bandwagon, as the app is finally available on Android starting today. And that's not all. As a special treat for waiting so patiently, Android users are getting an exclusive feature -- two streams instead of one. That's right, only the Android app will let you view either a Friends stream, which includes posts from Friends or Friends of Friends (the people in your phone's contacts list plus the folks in their contacts lists), or an Explore stream, which casts a far wider net.

Gallery: Secret for Android | 3 Photos

According to Secret, iOS users might get the split stream eventually, but the team wanted to give Android fans a head start. "I think it's really awesome that we're at a point now in Android development that we can launch features on Android like this," said Sara Haider, an Android engineer that Secret hired away from Twitter a couple of months ago. "It doesn't always have to be iOS first. We can lead with Android." Chrys Bader, Secret's co-founder, agreed, stating that the company considers Android a first-class citizen. "We're testing the waters to see how people like the two streams, and it might show up on iOS if successful," he said.

I tried out the Secret for Android app briefly and it really does mirror what's on iOS, except of course that the river is divided in two. The design looks very similar, except for a few minor UI differences and you can heart posts and leave comments in the same way. From just a few minutes playing around with it, I have to admit I really enjoy having my Friends stream separate from Explore. I get a far better signal-to-noise ratio on the Friends stream and I don't have to scroll through a mess of strangers' posts just to see ones from people I know. As for the Explore tab, Bader told us that Secret is looking to improve and expand upon it.

"The posts on Explore [are] still through the lens of your initial social circle," he said. "But what we've learned is that even if the posts are through your network, it doesn't carry the same weight as those from your friends. If a secret is from someone who's three degrees connected to you versus one, that's not connected to you at all; the sense you feel is pretty similar." Explore, he said, is a whole playground of content that's beyond a few degrees. "Right now, it's a mix of relevant posts your friends have liked, ones from people nearby, plus popular posts in general."

Aside from releasing a new Android app, the other big news from Secret today is that it's now available worldwide, so now everyone who has an Android or iOS 7 device can download it and start confessing their innermost desires. As part of the global rollout and the influx of fresh users Android adoption might bring, Secret has also come up with a couple of new features that'll make things more engaging for new and old users alike. First, both iOS and Android users will now be able to see their Friend count, to see just how many fps they have on the service. Next, if you have less than three or 10 friends, you'll see that you need to get more buddies in order to unlock posts. Bader said this is to protect people's identities more than anything -- otherwise, it's too easy to guess what secret is from whom.

Secret is also planning on introducing prompts, or questions, in order to get people talking. For example, it recently asked on Twitter if there's a secret you never told your mom, and it caught on like wildfire. That sort of question will now be integrated into the app itself. You can also choose to involve your friends by sharing that question on Twitter or Facebook, though you obviously don't have to reveal your answer if you don't want to.

As for what's next for Secret, Bader said the company hopes to keep building features that'll help people connect. "We're still continuing to learn how people use Secret. ... We're focused on engagement, and one of the things we're interested [in] is to see how people can close the loop." He reiterated what he said at Disrupt NY, that the company is looking into building an anonymous messaging service within Secret so that users can look into meeting each other offline. It's something that a third-party spinoff site, anonyfish, already does, but bringing it in-house might better serve Secret's users. "We're all about facilitating real human connection," said Bader.

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