Lockwatch Photographs Anyone Who Tries To Unlock Your Phone

Lockwatch Photographs Anyone Who Tries To Unlock Your Phone
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Lockwatch is a free anti-theft app for Android devices that will automatically snap a photo with the front-facing camera when someone attempts to unlock your phone’s password. The picture of the offender’s face is then emailed to you along with their GPS location. Crime doesn’t pay…

Phone theft picture from Shutterstock

There are lots of ways to improve your Android’s lock screen security — you can read our recent tips guide here. But this is the first tool we’ve come across that takes a photo of someone in the act of trying to access your phone.

“The idea came to me when I was out with friends and one of them had their phone stolen,” Lockwatch’s developer Charles explained in an email to Lifehacker.

“I thought it would be a great idea to write an app that could immediately take a photo of any person who tried to unlock your phone and also send an image of their location to the owner’s email address. I spent one month writing it in the evenings after my day job.”

Setting up the app couldn’t be simpler. When your phone’s password is incorrectly entered, Lockwatch will automatically take a sneaky photo of the culprit, complete with their GPS location. The phone’s shutter sound is disabled by the app so they wont realise a photo has been taken.

The image file and GPS data is sent to your Gmail account in a single email. (This can be changed to a different email address from within the app if you’d prefer not to use Google.) You can also adjust the number of failed attempts it takes to trigger the app, which is handy if you have big, unwieldy fingers.

I tested the device out with my Samsung Galaxy Note II and the results were successful for the most part. My face was clearly visible two out of three times, although it only captured around a third of my face on the last attempt. Presumably, the app will work better on some devices more than others, depending on its size and the location of the front-facing camera.

In addition to catching thieves red-handed, we imagine the app will also be a handy tool for monitoring paranoid girlfriends/boyfriends — to find out how much they trust you, “accidentally” leave your phone unattended and wait for the emails to come flooding in!

Lockwatch [Google Play]


  • Sounds good, but even if I had an android phone (or if it was also on iPhones), I probably wouldn’t use it. Occasionally when unlocking my iPhone I have a habit of accidentally pressing a wrong number (usually when half asleep or not paying full attention), so I’d probably just end up with an inbox full of unintentional selfies.

    • “You can also adjust the number of failed attempts it takes to trigger the app, which is handy if you have big, unwieldy fingers.” (Or clumsy, sleep-deprived ones 😛 )

    • That’s a great point which is why I’ve released an update today (which will roll out in the next 48 hours) with the option to cancel the alert if you type the correct password within 10 seconds.

      So if you make 1 or 2 bad attempts first and then manage to unlock it, it won’t bother notifying you. But if an intruder makes just 1 attempt (depending on how you have it configured) and does nothing more, that is enough to trigger an alert.

      Lockwatch developer

  • Have been doing this for a LONG time already using Tasker, so this isn’t anything even remotely new. Furthermore, the benefit of Tasker is that you can customise the delivery even further. Have email notifications, SMS notifications to another phone, or just simply store the photo on the phone and many more options. As a tech blog, I thought you guys would have known this already?

      • Yes, you’re correct about that (it’s not much of a script really… takes about a minute to set up – there’s tons of info about it around) but to quote your own article, you stated “this is the first tool we’ve come across that takes a photo of someone in the act of trying to access your phone.” This is quite obviously incorrect as it isn’t the first by a long shot.

        • So now you’re a psychic? Big difference between “first tool we’ve come across” and “first script we can add to something else”, leaving aside your apparent conviction that we were aware of that option. To be clear: “first tool we’ve come across” is not the same as “first way you could ever solve a problem”. Lifehacker would never pretend to be that omniscient. High horse, descend.

  • I love this app! Highly recommended, you won’t be disappointed.

    Thanks Charles and keep up the good work.

  • I’ve just installed this, it works great. Combined with the free phone locator provided by the android device manager, Im covered 🙂

    My only concern is the gps icon flashes up whilst it gathers the co-ords (potential for thieves to see and dispose of it quickly), but I imagine nothing can be done about that.

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