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Why We Will Remove the Camouflage Feature for the Android App

The 24th of July Prey was momentarily unlisted from Android’s Play Store due to changes in Android’s Privacy Policy that don’t align with the use of an app camouflage feature. This will be resolved shortly, but it will result in the removal of said feature for Android.

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As of today, the app camouflage feature will no longer be available on our Android application. This surely unexpected modification for some came to be due to restrictions present in Android’s privacy and proper behavior guidelines for developers.

Many will have noticed that yesterday, the 24th of July, Prey was unlisted from the Play Store due to the following Google Play’s Developer privacy policy. We have reached out to our Android representatives, resolves the matter, and this will be resolved shortly, and Prey will be back up for download in the Store in no-time. This, however, does mean the end for this feature in Google’s OS.

Apps that monitor or track a user’s behavior on a device must comply with these requirements:

  • Apps must not present themselves as a spying or secret surveillance solution.
  • Apps must not hide or cloak tracking behavior or attempt to mislead users about such functionality.

Prey’s hit the 10-year mark this 2019, and we have come a long way since its early stages. User privacy has always been our priority and, as policies change, we will do so too and evolve to continue providing a transparent solution.

It was never our intention to violate these guidelines. The camouflage feature was intended to hide the application from thieves while users took action in locating and protecting their devices, gaining some extra time and trying to avoid the deletion of the app itself. 

However, as we move towards active tracking, with the Location History, and reactive security, with Control Zones Actions, the loss of the camouflage isn’t much of a loss, but a transition towards a more proactive way for our users to deal with device loss.

We apologize for the inconvenience this might generate and, for the time being, say farewell to one of our fan’s favorites!

iOS users will continue to have access to the alternative camouflage version, which doesn’t hide the app itself from the tray, but turns the app’s home screen and login into a dummy game. 

About the author

Nicolas Poggi

Nicolas Poggi is the head of mobile research at Prey, Inc., provider of the open source Prey Anti-Theft software protecting eight million mobile devices. Nic’s work explores technology innovations within the mobile marketplace, and their impact upon security. Nic also serves as Prey’s communications manager, overseeing the company’s brand and content creation. Nic is a technology and contemporary culture journalist and author, and before joining Prey held positions as head of indie coverage at TheGameFanatics, and as FM radio host and interviewer at IndieAir.