Let’s be honest: There’s absolutely no reason to justify spying on your significant other. Not only because relationships are built on “trust” and “mutual respect” and “honesty” and all those other words you’d find on the back of a 1980s afterschool special VHS, but because nine times out of 10, you’ll probably be caught red-handed. If the ethical implications of snooping through your partner’s stuff aren’t enough to dissuade you, then the prospect of being spotted crouched over their phone, red-faced and frantically swiping through their texts while muttering expletives to yourself, certainly should.
But what if you don’t care about getting caught? What if you don’t care about “trust” or “mutual respect” or “honesty” or “having respect for another person’s space” or “being a decent person instead of a stain on the boxer briefs of humanity”? What if you’re 100 percent convinced your partner is cheating, or something, and all you need to do is find the evidence of his/her indiscretions so you can shove it into his/her stupid face? Then you can purchase one of these helpful apps to track them down and corner them like the rats they are.
Did we forget to mention that spying on your partner is a bad idea? Well, it’s a really, really bad idea. But if you’re absolutely, positively, 100 percent sure you want to do it, here’s how.
For our spurned Daily Dot readers in the southeast Asian market, here’s ThaiSpy, a spying app that allows “close boyfriends or distant sugar daddies of women... to know they are being honored and appreciated.” What, exactly, does this entail? For $29.99 a month, you can track your partner’s social media activity, address book contacts, Skype calls, and text messages remotely, without having to jailbreak your partner’s phone or install it directly on their device. The software also includes a Thai-to-English translation option for $2 USD per message, as it appears to be targeted at English-speaking businessmen who want to keep an eye on their Thai paramours from overseas.
Screengrab via ThaiSpy
Is ThaiSpy legal? We’ll let them answer for themselves, on the FAQ section of their website: “The use of monitoring technology is legal in many situations. For example, If it’s your own phone, or the phone of an employee, if they have been advised about company policy or for the guardian of a child or where the user of the device is aware of the application perhaps as way to back up data. ThaiSpy do not offer any advice on this, and you purchase it on the basis that you will not use it for any illegal activity.”
So, basically... no, probably not. But hey, serving hard time for illegal surveillance is a small price to pay for the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing your partner isn’t boinking someone else, amirite?
2) Couple Tracker
Available on the Google Play store, Couple Tracker is like equal opportunity spying. Both partners must agree to allow their digital activity to be monitored, so you guys can check each other’s calls, texts, Facebook activity, and GPS location from afar.
Screengtab via Couple Tracker/Google Play
There’s one catch, though: You and your partner only have access to the first 30 characters of each other’s texts, and you can only track your GPS locations within a 30-minute interval. That might seem like a pretty minor caveat, but people who want to cheat tend to figure out a way to do it regardless of the obstacles, so don’t be surprised if you see your wife sends out a message like, “Hey Alex can you grab the McAllister file I think I left it at my desk before... OH GOOD THAT’S MORE THAN 30 CHARACTERS NOW TAKE ME, TAKE ME RAMON YOU ARE COLUMBUS AND I AM AMERICA DISCOVER ME, RAMON, DISCOVER ME!!"
4) Find My Kids—Footprints
“But I don’t have kids,” you say. “Why would I use an app called Find My Kids to track down my wayward lover?” Good question, Imaginary Rhetorical Device Person, but Find My Kids comes equipped with a real-time, automatic tracking and sharing function. So if your partner has it on his/her phone, you can find out where they are at any given time, unlike other apps that merely show you their last known location.
Screengrab via Find My Kids-Footprints/Apple Store
Because the app is targeted at anxious parents who want to make sure their kids are still in school, there’s a geofencing feature that notifies you if your target (ahem, sorry, I meant “loved one”) strays outside of a certain area. Plus, the app has a handy-dandy speeding notification, which is great for those who care about their partners’ vehicular safety way more than they care about respecting their privacy.
With its screenshots of Pebble Beach and Shamu at Sea World, the profile for the live network cam app Camster, which lets you access live feeds from network cameras around the world, makes it seem like it’s not intended for personal surveillance purposes. But if you pay extra to add your own camera, you can watch a live webcam feed of your home, business, or any other location remotely 24/7, so if you’re away on business you can keep an eye out for any visitors or suspicious cars in your driveway.
Screengrab via Camster/Apple Store
It all sounds very sexy and Ocean’s Eleven-y, but the app has terrible reviews on the iTunes store. Which, honestly, is probably for the best: If you have enough time on your hands that you’re glued to a webcam 24 hours a day, you’re probably not stable enough to be in a relationship to begin with.
6) The rest of the Internet.
You wouldn’t necessarily associate sites like Facebook and Instagram with cyber-stalking (jeez, it was hard to even type that clause without snickering), but it turns out their utility for tracking love interests goes beyond clicking through your ex-boyfriend’s vacation photos and snarking about how much weight he’s gained since your breakup.
On mobile, Facebook users’ posts usually include a time stamp as well as a location, so if your partner posts a status update or likes a post while on the go, it’s a pretty safe bet you can gauge his or her location, without having to shell out $40/month for a questionably legal surveillance device, you adorable psycho, you. Same goes for Instagram: the “upload location” feature tells you exactly where a photo was taken regardless of when/where it’s actually uploaded, so if your partner was knocking back shots at a strip joint instead of working late at the office like he/she said, and someone happens to snap photo documentation of it, you’ll know. Oh, yes, you’ll know.
The software mSpy is basically the granddaddy of surveillance apps: For $40 a month, you can access a loved one’s contacts, call logs, text messages, phone recordings, Skype calls, locations, photos and videos, WhatsApp activity, and browser history. If you’re a micro-manager on top of a snoopy SOB, and your partner has a nasty porn or gambling or takeout habit, you can even remotely block access to his/her favorite sites using the software. On top of that, Mspy just announced that they plan to start selling bundled packages, so you can theoretically give someone a cell phone with the software preloaded onto it.
Screengrabs via Mspy
The legality of mSpy and other surveillance apps is up for debate. MSpy founders Andrei Shimanovich and Alex Herz say it is, as long as the person under surveillance consents to it beforehand. But there’s clearly no way to ensure that all of mSpy’s users are adhering to those guidelines, and the fact that the website’s demo is of a father tracking his wife and son indicates that most people probably use the software for less-than-totally-legitimate purposes.
MSpy is currently based in the UK, but is making its way stateside. Also, 53 percent of its users are American, and Shimanovich and Herz just announced they’re opening up an office in New York City’s Financial District. So start watching your backs, adulterous startup bros and hedge fund managers. MSpy certainly will be.