Is Burner a great new iPhone security tool for "dating, buying and selling online and posting via social media," as parent company Ad Hoc Labs is now touting? Or will it find most use among the criminally minded - to pull scams and carry on illicit trade without leaving a trail?
Burner loans you an extra, temporary phone number with a local area code that you can then use and share with casual contacts. Like that one night stand you fell on at the bar, an overzealous job applicant or someone you're selling merch to on Craigslist. Available here, the app costs $1.99 and is good for 20 minutes of voice time, 60 text messages or seven days, whichever passes first. If you have a pang of conscience, still want to keep in touch with those new contacts, you can thereafter buy more credits to keep the number active.
But come on guys - the Burner app name-checks the slang term for prepaid, disposable cellphones toted (and then dumped) by drug dealers in "The Wire." So what are we really pushing here?
"Phone numbers are part of an old network that is getting dumber, in relative terms, by the day," said Ad Hoc Labs founder and CEO Greg Cohn in a press release yesterday.. "You give out your number, and it's all or nothing. it's out there forever. And in the era of Facebook and social networking we know the phone can be a lot smarter. Burner is the first piece of this vision."