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Prey’s Camouflage Feature Removed Due to Android Privacy Policy

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 July 24th, 2019, the camouflage feature for the Prey app will no longer be available on Android devices. This unexpected modification arose due to restrictions present in Android’s Google Play Developer privacy policy. Android’s Privacy Policy is used to ensure that the personal data of users are protected. The specific policy for developers states that apps that monitor or track a user’s behavior on a device must comply with certain requirements. The requirements are summarized as follows: 

  • 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.

The purpose of the camouflage feature on our app was intended to hide the application from thieves if a user’s device was stolen. Cloaking the application makes it more difficult for thieves to delete apps like ours that help users track their stolen devices. It was never our intention to violate Android’s Privacy Policy, but we understand the technicalities of the requirements and are working with our Android representative to resolve the matter. 

Prey has hit the 10-year mark as of 2019, and we have come a long way since its early stages. User privacy and device security have always been our priority and, as policies change, we will continue to provide transparent solutions.

Please note that iOS users will continue to have access to the alternative camouflage version, where rather than hiding the Prey app itself, it turns the app’s home screen and login into a dummy game. 

Moving Forward With Prey And Android’s Privacy Policy

As we move towards active device tracking, with Location History, reactive security, and Control Zones Actions, the removal of the camouflage feature 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 may have created for Android users, and hope to have everything resolved promptly. 

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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.