Facts

General

What is Tact? Tact is a communications experience for families, friends, coworkers, or any other small closed groups of humans. Tact works on iOS and macOS.

What can I do with Tact? Start private 1:1 and group chats with other people. Send long or short text messages. Send photos and files. Like the messages and photos that others have sent. See rich link previews. Communicate shared mood with chat emoji.

Is that it? In the beginning, yes.

Will Tact do more in the future? Yes, we have lots of ideas for improving the conversation and communication experience.

How do I get Tact? Tact is currently in private beta. We have working software and are in the process of polishing our user experience and technology. If you wish to join our private beta, see our Beta page.

Team

Who are you guys? Who made Tact? Tact is made by Jaanus Kase and Priidu Zilmer, with a supporting cast of like-minded humans.

Why did you make Tact? Aren’t there already enough chat apps on the market? We had three main motivations.

Values. The chat apps used in the western world today by the majority of users are owned by Facebook, funded by advertising, and treating their users and their data as a product and resource to be harvested. We oppose that, and think there are other ways to enable our relations and communications that do not require compromising our integrity, harvesting our data, or funding the work from advertising.

Technology. Most communication apps are cross-platform, designed for the lowest common denominator in terms of both technology and privacy. We only have interest in the Apple platforms and ecosystem. We think there is a better way, and a higher bar.

Love. Most importantly, for the longest time, we just haven’t seen a chat app that we love, for our own personal chats. So we decided to go ahead and make one.

We discuss all of this more in our principles.

What makes you think you can pull this off? We’ve done it before, twice. Both Jaanus and Priidu were key members of the Skype and Wire teams that designed, built and launched these communication experiences for global audiences.

Technology

What platform is required for Tact? Tact is available for iOS and macOS. It requires an iOS device running iOS 14 or later, or a Mac device running macOS Big Sur or later.

What else is required for Tact? Tact requires an iCloud account. It uses iCloud for user authentication, and stores all content on iCloud. You may use a free or paid iCloud account, depending on your storage needs. All chats in Tact are owned by a specific iCloud user, and storage in Tact counts against the iCloud storage quota of that user.

Is that all that is required? Yes. During our private beta period, Tact requires two things – an Apple device, and an iCloud account. The final version of Tact, once it is released, will additionally require a paid subscription.

Will there be an Android version of Tact? Highly unlikely. There are both technical and values-based reasons why providing an Android version won’t be a priority for us. See discussion below in “Harm reduction and privacy”.

Will there be a web version of Tact? Very likely yes. Apple provides the necessary APIs and technology for developers to build web experiences for their iCloud apps. We have limited our current efforts to macOS or iOS, but may well build a web version in the future to complement the native apps.

What technology does Tact use and require? Tact is built with the latest version of SwiftUI, Apple’s newest and future technology for delivering user experiences on all of its platforms. Consequently, Tact requires macOS Big Sur or iOS 14.

Business

How much will Tact cost? Who will pay for it and how? During the private beta, Tact is free. The final version of Tact will be a paid product. Payment will be in the form of a standard Apple subscription. A single subscription will cover Tact on all platforms that we support. We are still working on the exact price and pricing model (who exactly pays how much for what).

When will Tact be generally available? We do not have a specific timeline for our public release. Expect more news through 2021.

Why do you think you can compete with a paid product against free apps? It is true that there are many free chat apps available. Our hypothesis is that there is a sufficient number of humans who share our viewpoint and are willing to pay for Tact to make it sustainable.

Do you intend to take over Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype etc? No. We don’t expect to make a meaningful dent in their business at all. Tact won’t be the biggest chat app — we just really want to create an awesome, human-centered experience for the discerning user. We hope to find a sufficient number of like-minded customers to make Tact a viable boutique business.

How much has been invested in Tact? Who are your investors? We have designed and built Tact as a bootstrapped side project with negligible operating costs. The main cost has been, and continues to be, our own time and effort to design and build the system. The two of us have sunk many nights and weekends into Tact. We have not received formal investments at this point.

Can I invest in Tact? Can I work for Tact? We would indeed like to invite like-minded people along onto the journey, in various capacities. If you find yourself asking these questions, we first invite you to carefully study our principles. If you find yourself enthusiastically nodding along to most of it, please do get in touch and let’s discuss.

privacy

Why should I trust you guys? We have these principles for designing, building and operating Tact.

You are the customer. Unlike many apps that harvest user data for advertising and the advertiser pays, our real customer is you. There is no “advertiser” or anybody else in the model. You pay us for the product, and we are accountable only to you.

We don’t store or use your data. When you use Tact, your data moves from your device directly to Apple iCloud servers. We have no access to it, and thus no way or intent to use it to show you advertising, or do anything else with it.

Safety, dignity, and respect. We will make Tact a safe and welcoming environment, and encourage all of our community to uphold these values.

Learn more on our Principles page.

Where does Tact store my data? Your data is stored in two places: your devices, and Apple iCloud. Tact is built with Apple CloudKit, which is an Apple technology that lets developers store their app data directly on iCloud, without the developer ever getting access to this data. We do not have access to your data, and prefer it that way. Your data is precious, and we treat any kind of data access as a great liability and responsibility.

There is a small exception to data access with our notification server. Some of your data does pass through our server temporarily.

What is Tact notification server and why does it have access to my data? Although CloudKit offers developers some facilities to deliver notifications, we currently find them to be insufficient to deliver the kind of user experience that we strive for. So we complement iCloud with our own notification server. Your Tact app talks to two things: Apple CloudKit for getting and saving most of its data, and our custom notification server for the sole purpose of delivering notifications to other Tact users.

What data does the Tact notification server store? The Tact notification server stores data about the devices that you use Tact on, and the conversations that you are a member of. The only goal of this is to deliver the right Tact notifications to the right people on the right devices. Importantly, although Tact apps do send the content of your messages to the notification server, we pass this straight to Apple notification servers, and never store your message content.

How do you protect me from unwanted contacts and intrusions in Tact? We designed Tact with privacy in mind. See the "Harm reduction" section of our Principles.

What is your plan to deal with terrorist, criminal, and money laundering activities on Tact? How can I get assistance as a member of law enforcement? Tact stores all of our content on Apple iCloud. This content is available to Apple’s internal teams, who have complete information about all users, their content and devices, and have policies to handle such matters. We expect to refer any such inquiries to Apple. For more information, see Apple’s government information requests portal.

You say you store our content in Apple iCloud. Does that mean that I have to trust Apple? Yes.

Can I really trust Apple with my private communications? If you are an iPhone or Mac user, you are already trusting Apple to a large degree. As your hardware and software platform vendor, Apple is in a position to use or abuse any data on your device as they see fit. We have worked in the Apple ecosystem for decades as users and developers, and have studied and philosophized this matter and the Apple approach in great detail. We believe that Apple has mostly acted as a good custodian of user data, and continues to value your privacy in their messaging, behavior and technology.

There’s a simple test that we invite you to take to decide whether to trust Apple and Tact: do you store your photos and videos in iCloud? Apple provides exactly the same technology and privacy guarantees to developers like Tact as they use with Photos and other systems apps.

Can’t I trust Google and Android in a similar fashion? Couldn’t you make Tact for Android adhere to the same logic? No. There is a great difference, which comes down to simple economics and the basic business model: who is paying for what, and what are the true incentives? With companies like Google and Facebook, the true payers and customers are advertisers. You and your data are the product that is being sold to them. We believe that Apple’s true economic motive is to sell you their devices and services, and let developers like Tact charge extra for value added on top of their platform.

I took the test that you had a few paragraphs above, and it failed. I don’t trust Apple and Photos, and I am working with information that is too sensitive to be stored in Apple iCloud. Should I use Tact? That is a matter of judgment and opinion, and we can’t provide you a definitive answer in either direction. Eventually, as a free human, you are responsible for your own data and communications, and choosing the platforms, apps and technologies to conduct those. We do have two thoughts on this matter.

First, there are definitely communications too sensitive for Tact and Apple platforms, and there are technologies more suitable to handle those communications. Since the landscape is moving fast, and there is a lot of expertise (technical, legal, or otherwise) required in setting up in some of these channels, it is your responsibility to conduct your own investigation and due diligence, and eventually choose what to use. We acknowledge that this matter exists, but cannot provide any guidance or recommendations. We realize that some of you need to use another solution. That is OK with us.

Also, Tact is on a long journey. That journey involves learning more about your privacy needs, and continuing to develop our product to meet those needs. We encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss the matter and your concerns.