Android Security App Can Now Take Pics Of Phone Thieves
January 25, 2013

New Android Mobile Security Takes Pics Of Smartphone Thieves

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Has this ever happened to you? You´re on your way to your fancy executive job on the 22nd floor, sipping coffee and waiting to cross a city street at the crosswalk. Suddenly, a young man hopped up on substances and dressed as a giant ear of corn advertising a local farmers market bumps into you as he dances his merry jig. Unbeknownst to you, your little run in with Mr. Crazy Corn frees your Android phone from its unsecured holster and sends it falling to the ground. The “walk” sign lights up, and you´re too busy guzzling your coffee to notice your missing device, but guess who does? That´s right, that wild-eyed ear of corn. Rather than chase you down, the dancing vegetable simply takes the device and tries to unlock it for his own purpose.

If you, like millions of others, have found yourself in this same situation, then the Android app Lookout Mobile Security is for you.

Lookout is an anti-virus and security app for Android and iOS which not only helps you find and communicate with a lost device, it also alerts users when they download a malicious app or connect to an unsecured WiFi network. While the app is available for the Big 2 mobile platforms, it´s able to do more for its users on Android, for obvious reasons.

For instance, perhaps the most useful feature (should you find yourself yet again in a Giant Ear of Corn situation) called “Lock Cam” is available on Android only. If said corn (or any other rascal) tries to unlock your phone with an incorrect PIN three times or more, Lookout Mobile Security quietly takes a picture using the front facing camera and sends it to your email address. This photo is then meant to be used to either locate your phone (with the help of the other GPS tools included in the app) or help point out the culprit in a lineup.

“We want to help people protect the privacy of their most personal device, and we designed Lock Cam specifically to address unauthorized parties trying to access your phone,” explained Lookout´s lead project manager Jonathan Stull, speaking to VentureBeat.

Mr. Stull says it is important to remember, however, that Lock Cam cannot be triggered remotely. “Someone has to be trying to enter your locked device to activate Lock Cam.”

Herein lies a common theme with Lookout Mobile Security: The app seems helpful enough in certain situations, and when our mobile devices are at risk, any amount of security is good security.

Yet, the iOS version mostly replicates existing features and doesn´t offer Lock Cam. This version mostly performs the same tasks as Apple´s “Find My iPhone,” which Apple asks you to install the first time you access the app store on a new device. The iOS version does allow users to create lists of people to call should the device go “missing,” as well as allows owners to place VoIP calls from the web to the lost phone in hopes of speaking directly with whoever has their phone — handy features all. Yet the other features, such as contact backup and location services, are simply duplications of existing Apple features.

Android´s free version offers the same coverage, such as location services, contact backup and malware protection, as well as the touted Lock Cam feature. The premium Android version —$2.99 a month or $29.99 a year — delivers the ability to remotely wipe a device as well as a relatively small 1.5 gigs of cloud storage for contacts and photos.