Is My Partner Cheating? Apps That Hide Text Messages and Phone Calls
Phone Apps That Hide Secret Text Messages and Calls
Is a loved one hiding a relationship from you with a little help from smartphone technology? I recently noticed a group of apps designed to conceal text messages and phone calls received from specific people. The ones that struck me the most were Second Phone Apps' series of Hide My Calls and Hide My Text apps for Android devices.
When you install one of these apps, you choose the contacts whose texts and calls you wish to hide. Once you put these contacts into the app, their calls or texts won't trigger the same alerts that you get for other contacts. Instead, you might get a pop-up saying "software update available," or your phone might merely vibrate, or you won't get any alert at all (so you'll have to proactively check the app).
Decoys to Conceal the Concealer App
What's really insidious about these apps is how difficult it is to detect them if you don't know about them. To read the messages or look at the phone calls from these designated contacts, the user launches the app from an innocuous-looking icon (the so-called decoy app), and must then enter a password.
Second Phone Apps' various versions of Hide My Text or Hide My Calls append to the app's name a description of the icon: In addition to the baseball icon in these screenshots, you can find one with a purse (for a decoy app called Shopper), for example. There's even a version that has no icon: Hide My Text-Invisible launches from a button that only appears when you tap an area of a black screen.
If anyone else clicks on the app and doesn't know where to enter the password, they'll see a message about a system error, or perhaps an expired subscription.
Most Hide My Text apps are available in both paid and free versions. The free ones let you hide texts and calls for up to five contacts; the paid ones set no limits on the number of contacts whose texts and calls you can conceal.
What Decoy Apps Are Used For
These apps make it easy for people to be dishonest by concealing relationships they don't want nosy partners or parents to sniff out by checking cell phone messages or call logs. Here are what some users had to say about these apps in reviews (note that one points out a few shortcomings):
- "This app is the shizznit! Now my girl can go thru my ph all day if she wants..."
- "Looks like a game that hides my text messages, awesome. Great app, helps a lot..."
- "Great app for phone, but depending on the phone carrier, the numbers will still appear on the online statements."
Apple keeps a tight rein on iPhone apps, and there don't appear to be completely comparable iOS alternatives in the iTunes App Store. Apps such as CoverMe can help you keep calls and text messages secret, but they don't create decoy icons, so at the very least a snoop can see you're using an app designed to help conceal communications from prying eyes.
So-called jailbreakers—people who develop iOS software outside of Apple's ecosystem—may have apps that do what Hide My Text does. Researching these, however, is beyond the scope of this article.
Bottom line for suspicious parents or spouses is that people who want to cheat will always find ways to do so. These days, they probably can find technology that will help them out.