Get your own back on those who intend to frape you or snatch a forbidden glimpse at your private messages and data. Hidden Eye for Android is a free, very simple app that provides photographic evidence of those who attempt to break the defences of your smartphone's PIN or pattern lock. See Best Android Apps.
The idea is simple, but it's a good one. Each time the password is incorrectly entered, Hidden Eye uses the device's front-facing camera to grab a mugshot of the wannabe hacker. They are none the wiser, and more than likely to continue trying to guess your password, convinced that you'll have been silly enough to use something as simple as 1234 or your date of birth. The result: Hidden Eye snaps a series of increasingly frustrated-looking close-ups, and you get the last laugh. See Android Advisor.
Hidden Eye is not infallible, and its photography facility doesn't work with all smartphones, notably Nexus devices, but it performed flawlessly on our Sony Xperia P. The app has other talents that make it worth the download in any case. For instance, you can configure Hidden Eye to sound an alarm on the third unauthorised access attempt, drawing your attention to their behaviour, or place an alert in the notification bar.
In the free version of Hidden Eye the alarm is simply your ringtone; the inability to answer the call may lead some to cotton on to the fact something funny is going on, of course, and it won't sound at all if your handset is in silent mode. You'll need to install the paid-for version to select a siren or other warning sound of your choice.
Upon correctly unlocking the handset, Hidden Eye presents a series of time- and date-stamped mugshots of all those who have attempted to break in. You can have a giggle at their expense, or plan a more suitable punishment. It stores these shots until you open the app and clear its cache.
A 'Plus' version of Hidden Eye, currently 93p with a 25 percent discount, adds extra functionality. There's a new ad-free user interface with a holo theme, from which you can set your own alarm sounds and delete individual images, but it's of little importance given that you rarely need to enter the app. More usefully, if your smartphone has been stolen or misplaced, Hidden Eye can reveal its location on a map and send you photographic evidence of the thief or finder via email or Dropbox.
Upon installing Hidden Eye you must afford it Administrator privileges, allowing it to monitor screen-unlock attempts and lock the screen. Although the app doesn't include this functionality, it's worth noting that making Hidden Eye a Device Administrator also gives it permission to erase the phone's data if too many incorrect passwords are entered. Regularly back up your data and you have nothing to fear.
Several permissions are requested by the app. Hidden Eye requires internet access to display ads and send emails, and access to your camera and storage to capture images. Vibration is used when alerts are displayed in the notification bar. The Plus version also requires location services for its mapping data.
It's worth noting that you must first open the app and turn it off to uninstall Hidden Eye.