SecuDroid – an app to help Find Lost or Stolen phone
Feb 22, 2012 11:02 AM –
SecuDroid has many features to help you locate and find a lost or stolen phone, plus you can see activity on your front or rear camera should you need it. However, we found some kinks in the user experience, let’s get into the review for more thorough explanation.
Tested on: MyTouch 3G Slide
Pros & Cons:
- There are a lot of features here to like, such as the ability to take pictures with the front or back camera, get the exact location, etc.
- You can choose to hide the icon, but even if you leave it in your app drawer, it shows up as eNotes to help deflect attention from it in the event of a theft.
- You can set up the app to send the messages back on demand or in intervals, and via SMS/MMS or email.
- Customer support is fast and very helpful.
- In addition to anti-theft, you can give a command to ring the phone at full volume, no matter how you actually left it, to find it if you misplace it.
- I had a hard time getting it set up, requiring going back and forth with their customer support.
- I never could get the location information to work. I could take the generated link and cut and paste parts of it out to get to the location, but just clicking the provided link gave error messages.
- Other than the confirmation email that my email address was tied to the app and working, I could never get any information to send to it, including requests for a picture of what my phone was currently looking at.
- When you first install the app, and later when you run it, all you get is a text box and a button that says “Verify”, with no explanation of what it is actually looking for. There are some FAQs on the company website, but even those didn’t make it clear to me what the app was looking for. Customer service had to spend time walking me through exactly what I was supposed to do.
Having some kind of anti-theft and/or loss app on your devices is just a good idea in this day and age. And SecuDroid has all the features that would make for a good one, including the ability to hide it on the phone, take pictures from front or back facing camera, give the location, etc. With location, you can even give two different sets of commands, one to use the GPS to pull an exact location, and another to just use the cell and Wi-Fi towers to get a less precise location, but one that won’t require any GPS use to give it away.
All of this is done via SMS commands that you send to the phone with your password at the beginning so the app will catch it instead of sending it to your SMS program and giving it away to a thief. In practice, I found that it did a pretty decent job at catching the commands and not sending it to either the phone’s default SMS program, or the third party that I use. However, if you use Google Voice, don’t send the commands from that account. Because I was using GV to send the commands, and then get the location response back, each time I got that response it also showed up in the GV app tied to my phone, notification ring and all. So if you use this app, don’t use the Google Voice account tied to the phone.
Another nice feature is a great one for those of us who turn the ringer down or off, and then manage to misplace where we left the phone. You can send a command that will tell the app to turn the volume all the way up temporarily and then let out a series of beeps until you tap the phone to let it know you found it. It’s not a necessary feature, but it is a nice one.
Now, on to the actual execution. In theory, all this sounds great. But in practice, I had a lot of problems, sadly. First of all, when I installed it, all I got was a box with a button that said “Verify”, with no explanation of what exactly it wanted me to verify. Nothing on the company’s website worked, including using the commands, the default password, or the command to open the app’s settings menu. Finally, after a few back and forth with very helpful customer service email people, we figured out that it needed my email address first, to verify the account before it would let me do anything else. Some kind of dialogue box or something on the website FAQ about that would have saved some time.
Then, once I did get the app working, I unfortunately could not get it working consistently, or return all the information I asked for. In fact, the find my phone feature is the only one that worked every time without any problems at all. Asking for location would return a long Google Maps link to my SMS account, but clicking on it gave me the message that it was not a valid location. Again, back and forth with customer service a few times finally got me to the point where I could copy and paste the address into a browser window and delete a few parts out of it to get a working link. But to me, if you give me a link to a Google Map, it should just work, and not require 5 or 10 extra steps to get a map up.
The other part I could never get working at all was the ability to send a picture of what the camera was seeing. My particular model doesn’t have a front facing camera, but I do have a rear camera and that is what I was attempting to test. I got the confirmation email that I had linked my account correctly, but every time I sent a command to the phone to give me a picture, I just got nothing at all. No SMS, no MMS, no email. Customer service gave me a few additional things to try, but I could never get any of them to send me a picture.
SecuDroid Settings 1
SecuDroid Settings 2
SecuDroid Location Not Found
In theory, this is the kind of app that, when you need it, will prove to be invaluable. However, since I couldn’t get a lot of the features to work in testing, it makes me less willing to rely on it if there was an emergency.
Ease of Use:
Because there were no real instructions, figuring out how to use the app was a bit of a challenge, and it is not intuitive. Once you actually get into the settings, it was easy to use, but getting there took several days and a lot of emails. And sending the commands via SMS was easy with the list of what commands will produce which results, but not getting back usable information – or at times any information at all – was a study in frustration.
In a perfect world, you could install this, run the occasional test to make sure everything was still working, and then never have to touch it again. However, if your phone ever is lost or stolen, the one time you need it will be worth it. Maybe… if it works properly.
Again, the ease of use here was in part due to the almost nonexistent interface. A box with a button and no instructions about what to do with it doesn’t really help. The website has information, but even there I found it more confusing that not, and actually had to get help from customer service just to get past the initial installation to actually test anything.