May 03 AT 4:28 PM Sean Riley 26 Comments

Mobile Spy delivers an app for those that like to watch

Retina-X Studios studios announced an update to their Mobile Spy software today which now offers a complete monitoring solution geared towards parents and employers.

Previously the service (which costs $100 a year) offered the ability to remotely monitor call, SMS, browser and GPS logging.

Apparently that level of observation just wasn’t cutting it as the most recent version has added several new features for tracking whoever it is that you don’t trust. The new additions allow the subscriber to read the full text of all emails sent and received as well as the ability to view every photo and video captured by the device.

The software is loaded onto the Android device via an .apk install and Retina-X assures subscribers that it is a “full stealth install” and that once installed it cannot be detected by the user.

I can appreciate that parents are worried about their children and what they are doing and to a lesser degree I get that employers have an interest in the whereabouts and activities of their employees, but this latest update seems like it is pushing into creepy territory.

Any opinions on whether this is going too far for either parents or employers?

Update: Tim Strazzere has a report on the “full stealth” mode.

Source: PR Newswire

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • Taylor Wimberly

    “once installed it cannot be detected by the user”

    From what I know about Android, that is a load of BS. Unless they just hide the app name as “cool unsuspecting app”, there is no way to actually hide an app.

    The best I have seen so far is the dual-app uninstall protection offered by Wave Secure.

    • http://Website wootroot

      I agree with Taylor, they are probably considering “Full Stealth Install” as what Mobile Defense (just an example of something I use) does, which is hides the application from the application tray.

      Unless they figured a way around being displayed in the app list when you click manage applications (which if they did, is a security flaw that needs to be fixed, immediately since it could be used for much, much worse), i doubt its COMPLETELY hidden.

      With that said, if I remember correctly, it is against the law to gather this kind of information from someeones phone, especially remotely, without there prior consent. Could be wrong, i’m no lawyer, but regardless this application is definitely moving towards being overly intrusive and dangerous in the wrong hands.

      In my opinion, of course.

      • jetblast_7

        What employers will probably do is require you to sign some paper that somewhere within gives them permission to do all of that. I would just rather not have the phone. and parents don’t need permission to gather the info from their kids.

        It’s all scary really.

    • http://Website pacobell

      I second that. And if they did manage to achieve this, it would mean they found a security hole and exploited it without informing Google. We should all bee worried in that case.

    • Sean Riley

      For the record I don’t buy it either; I was just reiterating their claim.

  • nathan118

    Uh, if it’s your kid’s phone that you purchased, or a company supplied phone, then how is that illegal?

    And how can you have a discussion about whether or not it’s “too intrusive”? If you don’t like or need it, don’t use it.

    • Aaron

      I believe the question was meant more as, “Should parents or employers who give their children or employees phones have such obtrusive access to your phone usage?”. That’s up for debate; I don’t agree with that practice, but I realize there are as many arguments in favor of it as there are opposed.

      The real question with apps like this are the illegitimate uses, e.g., installing on your significant other’s phone, maybe PI work, etc.; in other words, situations where there is no arguable position of authority.

      This application is a frightening step too far.

      • nathan118

        Still a pointless debate. You do what you want, and others will do what they want. Who cares.

        • jakejardashian

          Well then why are you even here reading this article?

  • nEx.Software

    There is no trial period, and no refunds. That alone would turn me off to this product (with the pricing scheme they have, it’s a big risk). Add on the previous comments here and we have a sure loser (in my book… others are free to have their own opinion, of course).

  • http://Website Foilling Around

    Just because you are an employee does not mean you waive all rights to privacy. The company must tell you that you are being monitored and what is being monitored. You can then make an informed decision as to whether you want to stay in their employ. Parents is a different matter. However even with older teenagers spying on them without their knowledge, even if you own the phone could be considered a breach of their human rights. It certainly shows a breakdown in trust and parent/child relationships.

  • http://Website Dre

    Yeah that’s just kinda creepy. I can understand parents wanting it on they’re kids phones, but your employer? Really?

  • http://Website Julio

    If you had a step-daughter like mine, you would understand why some of us want and need apps like this. As far as employers, I work for a company that monitors us in this same way. Not my dept in particular but a dept I used to work for they tracked our whereabouts.

  • http://Website qwerty

    They’ll love it in North Korea and Cuba

  • houserhythm

    None of it is ok. Not even parents monitoring their kids – it’s a huge violation of trust and privacy and if the kid ever finds out the relationship is nearly impossible to repair. This is just an excuse for bad parenting, since kids have grown up ok for millenia w/o even a phone to call and check on them. It’s all about proper education and communication. And sometimes it’s even good for them to bump their head on stuff, cause you always learn better from your own mistakes. Plus… remember the prohibition? When you’re not allowed to do stuff you wanna do it more fiercely. It’s human nature.
    As for employees… I work for a multinational corporation, but nobody cares if I happen to be late now & then, nobody cares if I take a 2 hour break and go for a coffee, if I watch clips on youtube or read the latest tweets/news… as long as I do my job well. And you know what? I do it damn well and I go to work with a smile on my face, cause this is a job I sure wouldn’t want to lose. And a happy employee is always a better employee. This is something every employer should consider. He/she used the company phone to call mom? So what? The cost doesn’t even come close to training someone new.
    Then again weed is also legal in my country (no, not Netherlands) and so is drinking/being drunk in public, yet you don’t see junkies/drunks everywhere. Oh and no kid ever brought a gun to school.

  • Tim Strazzere

    Ops… I guess it isn’t so stealth?

  • Jeff Grubb

    Installing this on my girlfriend’s phone right now!

    I’m kidding!

  • http://Website Miguel

    It’s obvious that this program will mostly be used by people (probably men) to spy on their suspicious partners (probably women). I don’t agree with it, but I’ve known a few guys who have done this to their girlfriend’s PCs over the years. What’s the point? If your that suspicious, just dump her!

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  • Michael the Dumb Tech Geek

    Heck no, it’s not too far for parents. If the parents are paying for the phone and for the service that phone gets, then EVERYTHING that phone does should be free knowledge to them. Or pay-service, in this case.
    As Donald Sutherland said in The Italian Job, “I trust everybody. It’s the devil inside them I don’t trust.”

  • Android spy

    This application is great but still it depends upon the users way of using it. If you are a parent and you want to track what your child is doing, I think there is nothing wrong with that. But if you use it to spy on some just to threaten them then it is wrong.

  • http://Website Enzo

    Ok its not fully stealthy but unless the user was paranoid or knew what to look for, chances are it’ll be fine.

    I’d rather warn you guys that you could be given away with this software if the spied on phone doesn’t have a data plan. It seems obvious but easily overlooked I think, this software uses internet to upload all data for you to then view it. Most monthly plans these days do have data usage but if not then extra cost on the bill would arrouse suspision..

  • http://Website ms user

    bad news is , if u have a smart child/gf/bf who THINKS they are being monitored they will find it.
    menu -> settings -> manage applications

    they will obviously run across something they did NOT download in there and click to see what it is..

    ONCE INSIDE, they are gonna be pissed.

    not as “stealth” as u think. especially if u dont turn it off and afterwards, & if they “long press’ the home key , which shows the 6 most recent apps opened. u can get to it in the call log, so if they say “hey i didnt call anyone, maybe someone called me” then goes in, it will take them STRAIGHT INTO THE APPLICATION…

    - long texts arent completely shown
    -after one day i got double messages for everything
    -after one day i recieved nothing…and it was tricky trying to GET BACK INTO THE PHONE a 2nd time with a suspicious lil guy on my hands!
    -then when i recieved messages it was ONLY THE ONES TO AND FROM ME.

    i will give it a few more dayas since SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING

  • sms spy

    yeah mobile spy works, but there are a few criteria

    1) you must have access to the phone
    2) the software must be compatible. the most commonly compatible ones are BlackBerry and android.

  • Chrystal

    For me, personally, it’s great. My boyfriend is one of those paranoid, suspicious types who thinks i’m cheating on him constantly. I’m going to TELL him to install this in my phone so he can prove to himself that i’m the good girl I claim to be!