Some things are better off controlled remotely.
You know, like giant robots, Solid Snake’s Nikita missiles, or even cockroaches. Since we really like robots (but not as many cockroaches), starting from today, you can also control your Android device using SMS commands. And honoring Solid Snake, from now on you can also hide Prey’s icon at will with a simple call, effectively infiltrating any thief’s defenses.
We just pushed the update to Google Play, so you should be getting it during the next few hours. It basically gives you full remote control over your mobile skipping the need of logging to the Prey Control Panel.
The SMS commands we’re introducing are:
- prey your_account_password location phone_number will return the device’s geolocation via SMS to phone_number.
- prey your_account_password lock lock_code will lock the device’s screen until lock_code is entered.
- prey your_account_password unlock will force unlock your device’s screen. It’s perfect for forgotten passwords!
- prey your_account_password alarm will ring the alarm, specially useful to find your device lost in your house, office, or even during a trip.
- prey your_account_password alert some_text will show some_text as a system notification.
- prey your_account_password picture will take a picture using the device’s camera and will send it to the user’s email address.
- prey your_account_password wipe will erase all your data from your phone, performing a “factory reset”. This is specially useful to protect your private information, but could render Prey useless. Use with caution!
Prey will hide these messages on your phone, so your password will never be visible to the guy holding the phone.
These features can’t be disabled, but we think adding your password to the SMS command is safe enough to prevent others from messing with your device. And while not all of them will work on all devices (sorry, oldies), we’re pretty sure most of them will. We went as far as Gingerbread for testing and we had 100% coverage.
The new Android permissions required by Prey are necessary to perform these actions. Read SMS for the triggers, and phone calls for icon hiding.
Don’t worry, we’re not taking over your devices. 😉
Android 4.4 KitKat is not supported due to Hangouts’ hijacking of SMS. The same applies if you’re running a third-party app to manage your messages. Behavior goes from SMS being visible on the system (revealing your password) to the feature not working at all.