Are you suspicious that someone is trying to guess the password to your Android phone or tablet when you leave it lying around? Or do you just want another layer of security for your Android device? Then you’ll want one of these three apps.
Each of these apps can take a picture of anyone who types a wrong password or PIN into your device while trying to unlock it, and they can send that picture to you remotely. Whoever was trying to sneak into your phone is busted. Additionally, it can also be used to hunt down criminals; when they try to unlock the phone, you’ll be send photographic evidence of the thief that you can submit to law enforcement officials.
Whether for security or to stop snoopers, you need one of these apps.
First, you’ll need to setup a password, PIN, or pattern protection for your lockscreen. You can customize the security on your default lock screen under Settings > Security > Screen Lock.
If you’re using a third-party lockscreen replacement app, you will want to remove it. These apps works by tapping in directly to the Android OS and waiting for an incorrect password or PIN to be entered. If that incorrect password or PIN is typed in a third-party lockscreen app rather than Android’s built-in lockscreen, these apps can’t detect that.
First up is a completely free, ad-free option that requires no sign-in and is as simple as it gets. It can capture an image via the front-facing camera and your location (if you have location tracking turned on in Android’s settings). It can then save this information to the phone, email it to you, or upload it to Dropbox. You can also have it delete the local copies after emailing or uploading it.
However, it would not take a picture of me no matter how many times I entered the wrong password. It did capture my location extremely accurately, which is a plus for security purposes, but the lack of image is rather disappointing. I’m thinking this is an issue specific to my Galaxy S3, though, so you should still give it a shot on your device.
You can set a “Scare Screen” which will warn the snooper/thief that they’ve been photographed, but that’s probably unnecessary. All that happens with the Scare Screen turned off is a little notification appears in the notification bar — but that can’t be pulled down anyway without the correct password or PIN.
Also be sure to whitelist “firstname.lastname@example.org” to be sure it doesn’t land in your spam folder, which is where it went for me.
GotYa! costs $2.99, but it also has a free trial version so you can try it out first. Upon setup, you’ll need to sign in with Google and grant it some permissions to your Drive. To send an email to yourself, you’ll need to grant it permission to view and manage your email too.
It steps you through the setup, making it incredibly easy. Within seconds your phone is secured. You can then alter the settings at any time by swiping in from the left in the app. You can turn on or off system notifications, take a picture every time the screen turns on after 3 failed logins, change GotYa!’s icon so that it doesn’t appear to be a security app, or set a password to protect GotYa! itself from being opened and changed without your permission.
The email you receive is well put together, with the image embedded in it and the location embedded in a Google Maps image with the option to open the location directly in Google Maps. This app is incredibly easy to use, and the free trial version seems to only be missing one feature — automatic uploading to Google Drive. You can purchase the upgrade in the app, though, if you really want.
Hidden Eye shows a big difference between it’s free and paid versions. The free version doesn’t email you the location or picture, it has ads, and it doesn’t have Dropbox sync. To unlock those features and remove ads, it’ll cost you $0.99, which really isn’t bad. In the free and paid versions, though, you can have it play a certain ringtone if someone tries to unlock your phone three times.
This app certainly gets the job done, but doesn’t do much in the way to differentiate itself unless you are an avid Dropbox user. The interface is pretty plain and drab, and the free version is quite limited. There is no notification, though, so if you don’t have the alarm set to ring after three failed attempts, it’s a great way to secretly catch nosey people.
This app takes the cake for simplicity, while also including some standout features. However, you’ll need to pony up $2.99 for an in-app purchase to get the best features. For free, it will snap a picture of someone after a failed attempt and has the ability to delay sending if a correct password is entered within 10 seconds (in case you mistype your password).
The premium features are rather interesting, though. It can also record 20 seconds of sound using your device’s microphone after the incorrect password is entered, send you an email if the SIM card is changed, take multiple photos at a time, send an SMS to a friend with location info if no data connection is available, and retry sending emails if the device moves from being offline to online.
Lockwatch, for me, was unable to take a picture — the same problem that Unlock Alert ran into. I’m not sure why this is, but the location was accurate. A strange feature about Lockwatch though is that you don’t have the ability to view the captured images and locations within the app; you can only access that information via the email you receive.
Which Is The Best?
In my testing, GotYa! was the best. Its free version provided all the features I needed, its interface was slick and easy to use, and it successfully captured both my image and location. Whichever works best on your device, though, is up to personal preference.