Would you let a stranger read your texts?

Unrd is turning your biggest fear into your favourite new form of entertainment.

Crime & Murder Mystery by unrd

Real-time detective stories


Is it OK to read someone else’s messages?

Chances are you just baulked at the idea. Or felt a cold sweat emerge at the thought of someone casually scrolling through your own private chats. But with Unrd that’s exactly what you’re encouraged to do.

Not in a sinister manner. And not just anyone’s messages. Instead, Unrd (pronounced “unread”) uses the private messages of fictional characters to not only tell stories, but transform you from a passive viewer of an unfurling narrative into someone at the heart of the action.

It’s storytelling with a difference. And it’s the future.

More than a game, Unrd is an entire platform. A base on which an ever-growing list of stories are told in a uniquely immersive manner.

At the core of all of the stories is the same premise: you’ve found a lost phone, and before you have an opportunity to hand it in, messages start to come through. Along with Instagram-style Stories, shared images and video links, the messages instantly intrigue. Gradually a gripping tale unfolds.

Depending on the story you follow it could be the phone of a hostage victim, a death row inmate, a viral superstar or a bride-to-be with cold feet.

It’s like living in a Netflix drama or experiencing your favourite film firsthand. But unlike traditional media it all happens in realtime, with messages drip-feeding you the story over days rather than hours.

“We go against that whole binge culture and add a realtime element so you’re almost living the story with the characters,” explains Unrd’s co-founder and creative director Adam Lowe.

In Unrd’s first story, Last Seen Online, you have the phone of a missing woman and are drawn in to an unfurling narrative over seven days of intrigue.

“It’s somewhere between voyeurism and curiosity around how other people’s lives operate,” adds fellow co-founder and Unrd CEO Shib Hussain.

“Your phone is so personal,” he continues. “Even if you haven’t got anything to hide we all have so many dreams, hopes, secrets and fears, all of these emotions tied up in our phones and messages. We thought that could be a really interesting way to tell a story.”

And it is. As well as having already been approached by publishers and Hollywood studios about leveraging the platform’s unique narrative power, Lowe and Hussain have been amazed by the ways in which regular users are following their stories.

“We’ve found that a lot of people start stories at the same time as a friend so they can experience it together,” Hussain tells us. “Because it’s real time, you all get the notifications at the same time and all have something to talk about for four or five days.”

“We’ve had people send us screenshots of WhatsApp groups they’ve got where everyone is talking about theories they have. We’ve also had people tell us that instead of their book club one week they’ve followed one of our stories and conversed around it in realtime rather than just at the end of the week.”

And despite being described by Lowe and Hussain as “a side-project that got out of control”, Unrd is expanding and evolving. There are now more than a dozen stories to enjoy with more constantly being added, building out the world in which the current tales are already being told.

Now, who wants to read a stranger’s messages?

    Crime & Murder Mystery by unrd

    Real-time detective stories