Print 33 comment(s) - last by cjohnson2136.. on Oct 31 at 4:34 PM

App emails you pics and geotags -- perfect for stalkers, suspicious significant others, and theft prevention

"Smile you're on candid camera."

Some phone thieves may soon find their ugly mugs revealed by an enterprising new Android app entitled "GotYa".  The full title is "GotYa! Face trap ! Anti Th**t", to be specific, but GotYa suffices.  The app is made by MBFG.

The Android app, once installed, is set up and activated via a web interface.  Once installed it can be activated to take pictures when ever someone touches the phone when at the lock screen.  These pictures are bundled with a Google Maps location link and then sent to you via email or Facebook message.

Gotya App
GotYa, an Android app for catching thieves [Source: Redmond Pie]

The sneaky app is activated when the mark makes an unsuccessful attempt at unlocking your phone.  However, it requires you to turn on Android's built-in lock screen feature, if you haven't already.  Intuitively, it also requires a front-facing camera, so some budget Android handsets won't be supported.

The app is currently selling for a modest $1.99 USD on the Android Market.  A crippled free version is also available, but beware it applies a big watermark to pictures and lowers their resolution.  The paid app removes the watermark, takes pictures at full resolution, and allows geotagging/messaging.

The app also has the capability to display a warning to thieves when they try the unlock and to remotely request location, call back, and play alarm sounds through SMS commands.

You can find these apps here:
Have an iPhone or iPod Touch and want to get some of this camera love?  You can find a similar app entitled "iGotYa", available on the underground Cydia app store for jailbroken iOS devices.

These apps aren't anything new -- they're just a bit better at gather incriminating evidence than past apps/features, such as Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) high profile "Find My iPhone" feature.

While these kinds of apps/features do allow well-intention customers to find, confront, and/or direct law enforcement to device thieves, they also raise some sticky privacy issues.  Namely, there's always the potential for significant others to install the apps surreptitiously on your phone to monitor your whereabouts.  

Further, in theory they could also be used by a stalker, if they were somehow able to get access to your phone and get past the unlock screen to install the app.  That possibility sounds relatively unlikely at first, but remember people often give service technicians these privileges for laptops and smartphones -- and some technicians have abused these privileges to stalk customers in the past.

Source: Redmond Pie

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What happens if
By neihrick1 on 10/26/2011 2:02:41 PM , Rating: 3
the second they see that message they slam it on the ground, what happens then.

RE: What happens if
By MrTeal on 10/26/2011 2:08:40 PM , Rating: 5
Without App - You never see your phone again.
With App - You never see your phone again, scumbag doesn't get to sell it.

RE: What happens if
By quiksilvr on 10/26/2011 2:10:49 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. I'd rather have it destroyed than given to some stranger to get all my information.

RE: What happens if
By joedon3 on 10/26/2011 2:35:18 PM , Rating: 2
And you get the thief's picture and location. Now they're under arrest for theft and destruction of property.

RE: What happens if
By cjohnson2136 on 10/26/2011 2:45:49 PM , Rating: 4
Assuming they stay in that location until the cops get there

RE: What happens if
By quiksilvr on 10/27/2011 11:23:20 AM , Rating: 2
Either they find the phone or him.

RE: What happens if
By tastyratz on 10/27/2011 2:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
which is very possible if they try the phone at their home or workplace. Won't work from a car etc but you have a good likelyhood.

Reminds me of the app "prey" for laptops to help keep track in case it was stolen. Those who might be worried should try it, nice app.

RE: What happens if
By carniver on 10/26/2011 2:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
You have his picture so hopefully the cops will slam the thief to the ground for you

RE: What happens if
By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2011 4:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
the second they see that message they slam it on the ground, what happens then.

You didn't really think this through, did ya?

RE: What happens if
By Captain Orgazmo on 10/26/2011 7:12:21 PM , Rating: 3
Or, what if some wiseguy/perv who knows someone has this on their phone and deliberately tries to unlock it while pointing the front camera at their unmentionables?

RE: What happens if
By Camikazi on 10/26/2011 11:14:56 PM , Rating: 3
See from now on I will have to try and unlock my friends phones that way, just in case the sneaky bastards have this app installed. Can't be too safe!

RE: What happens if
By priusone on 10/28/2011 1:03:43 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, bring on the shenanigans... and the pistol whippings.

RE: What happens if
By Souka on 10/27/2011 3:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
You don't have to have the message appear as theapp can run hidden.

The picture is an example of what the "gotcha" message would look like.

I would recommend turnin that off and putting up a more generic lock screen image which has something like: "Please call (123) 456-7890 if found and ask for Joe. Thank You!"

We have a lock screen + messsage as a managed policy on all our mobile devices at work.

Holding it wrong
By Harmaatukka on 10/26/2011 2:30:19 PM , Rating: 5
There should be a "you're holding it wrong" message before the warning, in case the thief has his fingers over the camera lens. On a side note, I suppose this will work for a couple days until the word spreads out, you can just block the camera, and hold it wrong to make the signal disappear, wait that would only work on iphone, but I suppose there are tools to make any phones near you lose the signal, if I was s phone thief I wouldn't work without one.

RE: Holding it wrong
By inperfectdarkness on 10/26/2011 5:13:26 PM , Rating: 3
exactly what i was going to say. even before you touch the screen, you can cover the camera.

at a minimum, you'd need to design it so that the camera can't be covered while you unlock the phone. dunno how smart the camera is though.

RE: Holding it wrong
By Dark Legion on 10/28/2011 5:58:40 PM , Rating: 2
at a minimum, you'd need to design it so that the camera can't be covered while you unlock the phone. dunno how smart the camera is though.

They could put the proximity sensor next to the camera?

RE: Holding it wrong
By cjohnson2136 on 10/31/2011 4:34:17 PM , Rating: 2
The person has to first assume that camera is going to take a picture of them.

What if
By FS on 10/26/2011 2:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
you find a lost phone and trying to figure out a way to contact the owner. Are you still considered a thief?

RE: What if
By Performance Fanboi on 10/26/2011 3:06:50 PM , Rating: 3
Hold a sign with your email address/phone number so the owner can contact you.

RE: What if
By fic2 on 10/26/2011 6:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
Good question. I have found a few phones - usually look through the contact list for someone to call and ask whose phone it is so I could contact them. Only time I couldn't do that was when the screen was locked. I ended up taking out the battery so the police wouldn't come busting down my door. Put a sign up. After a week recycled it.

RE: What if
By fic2 on 10/26/2011 6:33:18 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and there was a story in the local paper (Denver) about a woman who had her iPad "stolen". She had left it in the coffee shop that she was in. According to the story it was the third time she had left it someplace. The other two times it was returned. Although I would have turned it in I kind of think she deserved to lose it permanently.

Cool app, but just don't expand on it
By ElementZero on 10/26/2011 2:02:10 PM , Rating: 3
So while I was reading this I thought "Would be cool if they just made the web interface be able to send a message to the phone to take a picture whenever instead of having to rely on somebody touching the screen".

But then I realized that doing that could be some voyeurs dream come true (just leave the phone where ever you want it to take pictures). So yeah...please don't "expand" the app to be able to do this.

Other than that - awesome idea and cool app. :)

By Fritzr on 10/26/2011 5:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
Already been done ... the high profile applications are for laptops with webcam ... remote activation and viewing available with out any indication on the 'idle' laptop.

Prey !!!
By rameshms on 10/26/2011 2:20:24 PM , Rating: 3
There is a similar solution already..

RE: Prey !!!
By joedon3 on 10/26/2011 2:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's funny that the bird they use on their website is a vulture. A vulture isn't a predator, its a scavenger.... dumbasses...

By cjohnson2136 on 10/26/2011 2:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
This wouldn't really benefit a stalker because they would have to unlock the phone without the person...then sit and wait for the person to mess up their own password. Then even if the person does mess up the stalker will only get one picture/location out of it because the person will immediately see the app function that they did not download. Or they see in there apps something they didn't download and then they delete it.

RE: Stalker?
By cjohnson2136 on 10/26/2011 2:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
A better way would be to activate Google Latitude. Then a jealous spouse/ex or stalker could have access to where their phone is at all times. Unless they turn that off to.

I love it!
By MartyLK on 10/26/2011 9:48:40 PM , Rating: 1
Since the photo can be set to immediately upload to an online server, no matter what the douche does, the cops get his picture.

RE: I love it!
By Camikazi on 10/26/2011 11:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
Unless they have one of the rather cheap cell phone signal blockers :) I have one just for fun, works well for getting the attention of someone who ignores everyone while yakking away on their phone.

RE: I love it!
By MartyLK on 10/26/2011 11:34:34 PM , Rating: 1
Then it would sit back and wait for a signal and immediately send it once it gets it. It could hide the picture in an inaccessible part of the system so the douche couldn't easily find it and delete.

Also it would be cool if the app had a feature where the owner could send a signal that the phone has been stolen and the app would then alert the cops, take many pics and scream out randomly, "This phone has been stolen", overriding any volume controls.

Made for dumb theives
By Strunf on 10/27/2011 7:59:35 AM , Rating: 2
There are 10000 combinations possible to unlock an iPhone, would a thief really expect to figure it out by randomly typing the combinations, knowing that after a few tries the phone will be even more locked?

I'm pretty sure smartphones thieves have the tools to bypass the screen to unlock, maybe by hardwiring something and clear the memory of the phone.

RE: Made for dumb theives
By Master Kenobi on 10/27/2011 3:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and No. The thief himself probably not, he probably drops off the stolen phone to a drop point and collects his $50 dollars or so. The person collecting all the phones is or works with the guy that has the technical knowhow to erase the phones and prep them for sale on eBay or other sites.

This is the standard practice for laptop, phone, pager, GPS, etc.... thieves.

By usernox on 10/27/2011 10:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
Cerberus does this as well, and allows you to lock the device from a distance via sms or internet (if data is on). It even allows you to switch on your data via sms.
You can also ask for location, status of phone (including battery percentage etc).
It can be integrated in your ROM (if root) and you can hide the app. This means it is quite hard to remove; e.g. restore to factory settings won't do that (flashing a new rom will).
This may sound like an advertisement, but my previous droid was stolen, and it had a less sophisticated app, so I searched quite a bit. You have to pay after the demo period, but it's quite cheap, since it is simply amazing!

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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