We all have secrets, some innocent, some more or less nefarious than others. And we all have items on our smart phones we'd rather prying eyes not peruse, some salacious, perhaps, some as innocent as photos of a gift we're planning to give, harmless but easy-to-misconstrue text conversations with an old flame, photos you'd rather your children not see, even sensitive addresses and phone numbers.
But up until now, there's been no way to keep these private photos, videos, texts or contacts truly private.
Now there is - an Android app called NQ Mobile Vault, which lets you hide your secrets - and then lets you hide the app itself!
NQ Mobile is one of the world's leading Android anti-virus/anti-malware apps with, according to the company, 172 million registered users worldwide. (If you're an Android device user, I can't recommend strongly enough installing an anti-virus/anti-malware app.)
Adding secrets for free or for a premium
Using NQ Mobile Vault is easy. From within the app, tap of the category of content - video, photo, text or contact - you'd like to hide, then click Add. You can then navigate to wherever this private content is located, tap the content, and the offending item is taken from its original location and placed safely within your Vault.
Once a phone number is added to the Vault, all text messages and call logs from/to that number also will be stashed in the Vault.
Access to your Vault is passcode protected (3-15 digits). And remember your passcode - there is no way to retrieve it. After all, if someone has access to your phone they might also have access to your email to request your Vault passcode when you're not around.
As with many apps, there are free and premium versions of Vault.
Vault's free version gives you all the aforementioned secret services, and you're limited to hiding only 100 text messages a month. For $1.99/month or $12.99/year (the same pricing as the premium version of the NQ Mobile security app), Vault will safeguard all text messages from secret recipients.
Even cooler, Vault also has monitoring – it lets you know who has tried to break in. If someone inputs the wrong passcode, their picture gets surreptitiously snapped by your smart phone's front camera - there's no flash, no shutter click. The potential interloper has no idea they've been secretly mug-shot (as long as your phone has a front-facing camera and runs at least Android OS 2.3 or higher.)
When you access your Vault, a "Break-in Attempt" folder will display a number indicating how many folks have tried to access your secret information, along with their shifty-eyed photo. Gotcha!
But the NQ Mobile folks realize that someone discovering you have a Vault to begin with could raise some embarrassing "What exactly are you hiding?" questions. So, NQ Mobile Vault has a stealth mode. Set it, and the Vault icon disappears from your screen.
To enter your now hidden Vault, go to your phone's Phone touch dial pad, enter ## and your passcode, and you're in, no one the wiser.
And, if someone discovers you have a Vault, you can create one or more "fake" Vaults to grudgingly show them fake secret photos, videos and texts while the secret stuff in your real Vault remains safely unseen. Just make sure you know which Vault is which.
NQ Mobile is in beta - Android only, but an iPhone version is in the works - but is due to go public in the next week or so. But feel free to download it for free now. I'm sure there's something on your phone you're anxious to keep hidden.
Since we're talking about a company whose specialty is anti-virus, here are some security premiums you get with NQ Mobile's latest protection app, verison 6.2:
- remote data wipe
- remote alarm (you can order your phone to emit a loud siren)
- phone locator
- text message if your phone's SIM card is removed
- data used monitor (handy if you have a capped data plan and you're worried about how much data you're using)
- anti-eavesdropping (closes a newly-discovered security hole in Android that lets someone record your conversation)
- financial data protection
One of these days I'll do a comparison of the most popular anti-malware apps. But in the meantime, download one of them for your own safety and well-being.