My thoughts on Tact public beta
December 21, 2021
My hobby project Tact is now available as public beta.
- Get Tact for iOS, iPadOS or macOS
- Read our public beta announcement post
- Public discussions and bug reports: github.com/tact/public
- Connect with us on Tact: Jaanus or Priidu
- Read my thoughts on Tact from earlier this year
Tell me more
This was all the “official” info and links you need to get started with Tact. I’d like to add some color with fresh thoughts, as they have crystallized through this past year of working on Tact.
Sometimes it’s easier to say what something isn’t. This reflects the design and focus of Tact, where we intentionally said “no” to a lot of things at the project outset.
No personal data. We feel very strongly about this, and think Tact shines here. We do not have access to your communications, and do not want or ask for any personal data. It’s common for mobile communication tools, even the ones that claim to be “private”, “end-to-end encrypted” and all that, to start the relation by asking for your phone number, or siphon in your whole address book to do “contact matching” or whatever they call it. We’re not saying they all misuse the data, but the most private data access is always no access at all. Tact does not ask for your phone number, e-mail address, address book access, or anything else. The only thing that we ask at the outset is your name. It does not have to be real: use your first name, pseudonym, nickname, or anything else. You can optionally also set a picture (again, no requirements for what it represents), and that’s it.
No final form. What you see today in Tact public beta is the first pass. A sketch. A question. A provocation. Does this make sense? Should we continue? You’ll see bugs and rough edges. Priidu and I are our own biggest critics. It pains us to not build everything we imagined, and not build everything to perfection in the first pass, but, “great artists ship”.
No hyperbole. The world and specifically the technology industry are full of big empty words, a lot of crazy fast change, and just the sense of things rushing by and leaving you behind. We’re tired of this, and make Tact “for the rest of us”. We don’t claim to “change the world”. We just make a chat app.
No discovery. There is no way to discover other people who use Tact, and connect directly with them. You connect with other people in Tact by directly sharing invitation links. Sure, you can publish it to your website if you choose, but you can also just directly share it with a loved one and no one else. You won’t have any unwanted “connection requests”.
No Android. For many technical, business and philosophical reasons, we built Tact for Apple platforms, and this remains so for the foreseeable future. It’s what Priidu & I care about the most, and where we want to focus.
No funding. We took Tact to this point without external funding. Priidu and I put countless hours into it over the past months, and we’ve used our own savings to hire a few great Apple platform engineers to help us build. We’ll need a new plan in the new year, be it shipping a paid product, obtaining external funding, shutting the project down, or any other number of avenues. Time will tell.
No calling. No other fancy realtime features either. We chose to limit the scope of this initial version to what we can build and maintain ourselves. Calling certainly fits into the Tact general vision, but we’d need to find our own unique angle. Until then, FaceTime works great, and you can share FaceTime links in Tact for a fairly seamless experience.
No ads. We can’t exactly say what the future of Tact looks like, but we can sure as hell say that it will not involve ads as the primary means to fund our business. Ads have their place in the app business, but Tact is not that place.
Okay. That was a lot of noes. What are the yesses? What do we stand for?
Craft and technical excellence. There’s always more work to do, but we’re pretty happy with the current technical state of Tact. It’s small, it has design intention behind it, it starts fast, it’s reliable, it doesn’t use a whole lot of CPU or memory. It’s just a decent iOS and macOS app—fully native, of course, on all platforms where it runs.
Children and family. All of us have our lives, and shipping Tact public beta has taken a while because sometimes we’ve needed to live our lives instead of working. I’ve made it a very explicit rule of the project from the beginning, for both myself and everyone else: life comes first, and Tact comes second. What we may lose on a single day because we need to take care of a sick kid, we make up with long-term patience and persistence.
Communication. If you were to look at Tact with an inquisitive lens, hunting for bugs and faults, you’d find many. We’re not done yet, and we needed to heavily focus, optimize and cut scope. What we feel good about, though, is looking beyond any single problem, and seeing Tact as a means to actually chat with each other. Tact has been a part of our lives through various small groups for many months now. It’s been with us at home, for team calls, at child daycare, at the gym, on hiking trails and ski slopes, at hospital beds, in grocery stores, on road trips and travels, in pubs and bars, and anywhere else where we’ve lived and worked. We share our daily joy and misery, culture and memes, daily news, silly jokes, family photos, work material, and anything else that forms the digital fabric of our lives. At that, Tact does a pretty fine job.
Self-expression. Priidu and I think of Tact as a project of self-expression, almost an art performance, or an expensive hobby, rather than “work”, “software” or “investment”. We just like to mess around in Figma and Xcode and put some flesh on the bones of the ideas around communication that we’ve kicked around. We work on Tact because we’re convinced that the world needs it and it will be good business in the end, but we don’t look for a quick return and quick growth at all costs.
Desktop app. The sad state of macOS desktop chat apps in today’s mobile-focused world was a big factor in starting Tact in the first place. We design, build and ship Tact’s native macOS desktop app in lockstep with the iOS version. We are creative professionals who spend considerable time at our computers, and macOS will always be a native first-class target for Tact.
Kindness. We can’t and won’t police what content you have in your private chats. We can still say, though, that in this age of hyperbole and frenzy, we’d like Tact to stand for kindness, dignity, peace of mind, and a bit nicer messages that we share with one another. That has certainly been the case within the Tact team itself: we look after one another and have a lot of camaraderie, despite some of us having never met.
Payment. Tact will be a paid product. We don’t intend to compete on price, because there are many free apps there. We haven‘t yet locked the exact pricing and model: if you have a family group chat, it would be silly to force everyone there to pay. We’ll come up with something smart.
iCloud. You access Tact with your iCloud account, and all Tact content goes from your device straight into iCloud. That’s why there’s no separate “user account” or “registration” in Tact, and why are confident in our privacy claims: we don’t do anything with your chats because we simply don’t have access to them.
Safety. We designed Tact to be a safe environment, where you can be free from unwanted intrusion. The Internet can be unwelcoming and hostile. We can’t fix all of it, but we can design our own little corner of it, where you only hear from those who you want to hear from. You don’t get any “connection requests” from strangers, unless you have chosen to share your personal Tact invitation link with them.
Love. We work on Tact with Priidu and the team because we just want to have this app for ourselves and our friends, and we love working on it. We’ll likely continue in some shape or form for quite a while. We wanted to ship the public beta to gauge the reaction of our extended networks and the wider world. So, here we are.
So, that’s Tact, as of December 2021.
No personal data.
No final form.
Craft and technical excellence.
Children and family.