Service provider Spyic promises to deliver on tracking a phone's location and access to sensitive data without having to jailbreak or root your handset. Is this the perfect solution for added security on school trips and excursions without voiding the warranty or compromising your handset?
Even though we like to ignore this fact, it is unavoidable: With a modern smartphone, we carry a device that tends to follow us 24 hours a day - which would be something that secretive, clandestine organizations would love to take advantage of in times gone by. Gaining access to numerous microphones, location sensors that are accurate down to the very meter, an ultra-fast connection to a worldwide network, and cameras on both the front and back, virtually an unlimited amount of data can be obtained from smartphones. But what if we were to use these possibilities not for covert surveillance purposes, but for protection and security?
Service provider Spyic is pursuing this goal and promises to enable smartphone tracking without jailbreaking and rooting your device. Doing so would mean no loss of warranty or risking any damage to your smartphone when you unlock it. Nevertheless, after registration, it should be possible to locate the smartphone accurately right down to the meter, view caller lists, in addition to other functions. Before we talk about the possibilities opened up by such a service, however, we need a brief dive into the legal ramifications involved.
Who may track whom - and how exactly?
When you take into consideration all of the technical possibilities involved in the tracking of persons via smartphones, doing so would subject one to strict regulations in Germany. In principle, smartphones with a SIM card inside could be tracked over the mobile phone network across a long period of time. Although tracking through this way proved to be rather inaccurate, the only prerequisite for retrieving the location was, to have a working SIM card inside the handset and also having deactivated the flight mode. Since there are now far more accurate methods of tracking a smartphone via WLAN and GPS, many mobile phone operators turn off the GSM tracking service.
Location recognition via GPS or through public and private WLAN networks is much more accurate and these methods are used by navigation apps such as Google Maps. According to German law, locating your own smartphone is of course not prohibited, but with strangers, things take a very different turn.
According to the German Telecommunications Act, an explicit, separate, and written permission from the person to be located is required for the transmission of location data to be made available to third parties. At the same time, the person whose smartphone is being tracked must be informed each time the location is accessed via text message. This does not apply to children whose parents want to carry out a tracking exercise in order to protect the welfare of the child.
Here, parents navigate through the grey area of conflicts of interest between data protection, property rights, and the discharge of care duty by parents. Although children also have the right to self-determine where their information goes to, parental duties often outweigh such rights in disputes when the children are still minors. When reading personal messages such as WhatsApp conversations or e-mails, one runs the additional risk of violating the personal rights of the persons concerned.
Parents should also educate their children when they install an app that monitors one's location. This makes a lot of sense for trust reasons alone. For seniors or adults who are employees, the law requires written permission in the first place. For ethical, relational, and legal reasons, it is never recommended to secretly install your partner's smartphone with a spying app.
When using Spyic, you should always keep these basic requirements in mind at all times. In addition to tracking, the platform's range of functions includes access to the call list, contacts, messages, browsing history, and a number of social media apps. In principle, a keylogger, i.e. software that records keyboard entries, can also be used. Violations of personal rights and the regulations of the Telecommunications Act are therefore possible at all times.
However, for comprehensive child protection, with permission from company employees or for monitoring your own smartphone, the range of functions is commendable. On Android, you can also use the functions of Spyic without having to root your device, with the exception of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Gmail. Rooting under Android means you grant yourself the highest user rights in the operating system. While doing so will open up some new possibilities for you, but you would also void your smartphone's warranty at the same time in most cases.
Under Apple's iOS, the counterpart to rooting is known as "jailbreak". Here too, you run the risk of damaging the expensive smartphone and voiding its warranty. Without jailbreak, Spyic offers features such as accessing your contact list, call history, WhatsApp data, location, calendar entries, and messages. Advanced features such as viewing Instagram messages require a jailbreak. Another difference between iOS and Android is this: Spyic only requires access to the device itself on one of the two operating systems.
How Spyic works
Because setting up Spyic under Android is done via a free app that is sent to the smartphone in the form of an APK file, you basically install it from a third-party source after installation permissions have been enabled, similar to how one would do under Windows or macOS environments after downloading a file via the browser - except that this is done over your smartphone.
Under iOS, however, Spyic requires access to the user's Apple iCloud account of whose smartphone is to be monitored. After creating a Spyic account, you will need to disable two-factor authentication and enter the relevant iCloud credentials on the Spyic platform. For both iOS and Android, this information is accessed through the Spyic online platform. It is also nice to note that on both platforms, the app can be uninstalled without any trace. The installed app can also be hidden after installation under Android.
How expensive is Spyic?
The use of Spyic is always associated with a subscription fee, and there is no free trial period of a month or a limited-time offer. However, you can reduce your monthly fees by choosing a longer subscription period right from the beginning. Furthermore, the provider offers three different subscriptions with price differences between iOS and Android platforms.
The range of functions varies between Basic and Premium packages, where the family subscription is basically Premium access for up to three devices. In the most affordable Basic package, the range of functions is limited to call lists, SMS, and MMS, locations, contact lists, browsing history, bookmarks, photos, and videos. In order to gain such benefits, you would may a one month fee of $39.99 for Android, which is the equivalent of almost €34. The premium subscription costs $49.99 (almost €40), while the family subscription is $69.99 or €60.
For Apple's iOS users, the limited basic package does not exist. Here, the entry-level package would be the premium subscription which is currently going for $49.99, or just under €42 monthly. Alternatively, a family subscription for $99.99 or €85 will provide you with access for up to 5 devices, while the business subscription offers access for up to 25 devices with a monthly fee of $399.99 or €340. Since the prices are always discounted, you should check the Spyic homepage for the most current pricing structure.
As for the available payment methods, you can choose between different credit cards and PayPal. Spyic states that the name of the developer and not "Spyic" is always shown on the bank statement. For refunds, you can contact the developer within 10 days via the contact form.
Spyic is a powerful smartphone monitoring service that is surprisingly non-invasive on Android and iOS. Root access or jailbreaking of monitored smartphones brings only a few advantages, which is what Spyic avoids, while making sure that the most important features are also available. Android-powered smartphones happen to be the most cost-effective devices to use the highly limited basic package with an annual subscription. A one-time payment of almost €85 ($101) is required. On Apple's iOS, the cheapest way to get started would be the premium subscription under an annual payment mode with an asking price of €110 ($130).
With the entire suite of functions made available to the user, highly sensitive data can be accessed on both the iPhone as well as on Android devices, which can save lives in some situations. For example, if a child does not come home after school, the location of his or her smartphone can be accessed in real-time accurately right down to the exact meter when tracking services are activated. If the tracking services are switched off, GSM tracking will be able to help in principle, at least with a rough estimate. Spyic also provides parents with important tools to protect themselves against criminals on the Internet by enabling them to view chat histories and typed messages.
Unfortunately, it is also obvious that these possibilities open the door for other kinds of abuses, or even by jealous partners. Here the responsibility lies with the user, who in the case of violation of personal rights, must ultimately also answer any charges in court. Spyic itself is obviously aware of this danger, because the service protects itself in its disclaimer against abuse of the platform.
This article was written in co-operation with the software manufacturer. The opinion in this article is all about the software benefits and keeps a neutral outlook.