Line is finally getting serious about security after it added encrypted chat options to its messaging service today with an update that is reminiscent of rival app Telegram.

The new feature is live on both the iOS and Android versions of the app only. The option can be found by clicking on a person’s name in a conversation window, but it only works when both participants have updated to the latest version of the app.

Line claims that hidden chats are encrypted — which is refreshing since it has been accused of failing to encrypt data in the past. There is also a timer option that sets new messages to self-destruct after certain period, that ranges from just two seconds after being read right up to one week later.

Update: A note to users explains that the service is not supported by devices registered in China and Japan. As regards the status of self-destructing messages, the company says:

After the set time has been exceeded, viewed messages will be automatically deleted from Line’s servers. Unread messages will be automatically deleted from Line’s servers two weeks after their receipt.

Photo 22 07 2014 17 20 12 horz 730x361 Messaging app Line gets serious about privacy with Telegram inspired hidden chat feature

Line’s hidden chat feature

It is tempting to say Line is copying Snapchat, but actually the move is an almost exactly copy of the encrypted chat option in Telegram (screenshots below), a WhatsApp-like service that had a surge in popularity after Facebook bought WhatsApp.

telegram 730x361 Messaging app Line gets serious about privacy with Telegram inspired hidden chat feature

Telegram’s secret chat feature

Line, has nearly 500 million registered users, and is far from the only app to add new privacy options to messages lately. China’s WeChat recently began letting users recall messages, while Indian app Hike enables users to lock conversations with a password.

Is the future of mobile messaging apps feature parity across the industry? Perhaps, though Line is confident that its stickers and gaming platform are some of the features that give it a distinctive appeal.

Line: iOS | Android