mSpy Review

13 Dec

The phone spy app market is literally overflowing with dozens of products offering basically the SAME capabilities.  As a consumer it can be difficult and frustrating trying to figure out which one is actually the best for your needs.

In an attempt to wade through the BS, I tested well over ten different cell phone spyware apps. In this post I’m going to review mSpy; our pick for the best overall spy app on the market.

While this app isn’t perfect (read my frustrations below), it delivers all of the functionality I require while also offering consistently reliable operation and solid technical support.

This mSpy review will describe the features of the software and will explain why it could be answer to your own phone monitoring needs.

​My mSpy App Review

PROS

  • First class customer support
  • Jailbreak and Non-Jailbreak versions
  • Installation without physical access to device

​CONS

  • ​Only works with iOS & Android
  • ​Jailbreak required for “full” functionality

There are any number of reasons why you might need to monitor someone elses phone.  In our particular case it was because our daughter reached an age at which boys would be messaging her and we wanted to make sure things stayed appropriate.

Regardless of who you want to keep tabs on, you’ll need some sort of spy app to accomplish it.

Before You Buy

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there were certain frutstrations I had with this app during the installation.  Since I wanted the full version I had to first jailbreak the phone.

This process is a bit complicated if you’re not technologically savvy.  After a couple frustrating hours I decided to pay a little extra to have one of their tech support people handle this for me.

Once I handed it over to them installation and setup was a snap.  They literally do everything for you.

mSpy may be useful if you are concerned about your child’s safety, want to help him or her maintain healthy interactions, and want to help your son or daughter avoid relationships that have a negative influence.

With this app you can inconspicuously track your child’s phone use and log the information so that you can review it and take necessary precautions.

If you need to monitor your child in this manner, either because of a concern about cell phone use or because you are not always physically present to provide monitoring, spyware is a great solution.

Parents who wish to allow their child to be independent but who also want him or her to be safe might find that mSpy is an ideal solution.

​Is mSpy Right for You?

  • ​Do you want to monitor a phone without the owner’s knowledge?
  • ​D you have physical access to the target device?
  • ​Does the device you will be monitoring use an operating system other than Android or iOS​?

Leaving the mSpy icon on the desktop may be a work-around for the first concern above. It is also possible to install it on an iOS device to which you do not have physical access but doing so will result in a restricted set of monitoring options. Sometimes it makes more sense to install a different software application, so I will discuss two alternatives in a later section.

Overview of mSpy

mSpy is optimized for mobile devices and offers distinct advantages:

  • ​You can discretely monitor ​usage of the phone;
  • Parents can block incoming calls, specific websites and applications;
  • Recent versions of mSpy ensure longer battery life for the device;
  • The latest updates feature geo-fencing and keystroke logging.

I could have really used this information when my niece was victimized by school bullies, using it to help her develop healthier connections and to protect her from further abuse.

​Features of the mSpy App

Even with all these amazing features, it is important to note that not all devices perform equally well with mSpy. The disadvantages include:

  • The app can be installed remotely only on no jail break devices and you will need to have an Apple ID and enable iCloud backup to do this;
  • If installed remotely, you will have limited reporting options but you can still view logs of most communications;
  • In most cases, you need to have the target device in your possession to install the software;
  • You will need to root an Android device if you wish to have the ability to monitor incoming instant messages.

1.Chat Service Monitoring

One of the features of mSpy includes the ability to monitor activity on internet chat services and social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WhatsApp. Being able to monitor your child’s internet messaging activities can be of benefit in preventing associations with harmful friends. You can also use this feature to get information about inappropriate content that your child may be sending or receiving via messaging services.

2.Monitoring Email, Text and Multi-Media Messages

The app monitors texts, email, video and audio. One of the advantages of this set of features is the fact that the app not only monitors activity but provides you with usage logs of your child’s communications. This can help you to decide if your child’s interactions might be inappropriate and to determine if your son or daughter is at risk because of their social contacts.

3.Call Monitoring and Call Blocking

You can receive information about call duration and timestamp, so you can have the benefit of knowing who your child is talking to and when. This feature can be valuable in protecting your child from negative interactions and to help you to assess if any of these relationships pose a threat.

Call duration and timestamp information can also serve to help you manage your child’s time. For example, you can use this information to determine if your son or daughter is using homework time to make phone calls, or if he or she is using the phone after hours. Monitoring usage in this manner may help you to assist your son or daughter if you are concerned about the health and timing of their social interactions.

Call blocking can be used to restrict incoming calls during certain times, for example, family time or meal time. You can also block calls from a specific number if you do not want your child to speak to that caller. The call blocking features is one of my favorites, because it lets me avoid ongoing monitoring by simply disallowing certain contacts.

4.Monitoring Keystrokes

The set of features designed to monitor internet use include the keylogger, as well as network monitoring and internet connection control options. The keylogger allows you to monitor all communication that is typed on the device, regardless of which app your child uses to type. This can be a very useful feature for parents of children who may be typing off-line but who send previously typed messages when they re-establish an internet connection. With this feature, there is less opportunity for a child to circumvent the monitoring process by uploading pre-typed documents or messages, since the keylogger will record this activity and forward it to the parent’s control panel.

5.Monitoring Internet Use

Network monitoring and connection control options include the ability to block access to specific websites, to block specific apps that are installed on your child’s phone, and to block internet access altogether. The advantage of this set of options is that you have many choices for configuring your child’s internet connection. You can restrict internet use by blocking specific websites, disallow internet use by blocking the connection entirely, or allow internet use while blocking specific apps.

The network monitoring features also allow you to restrict your child’s access to specific content, such as adult material or violence, by specifying keywords for the software to flag. The advantage of this feature is that more tech savvy youngsters will have difficulty bypassing the blocks by attempting to access it through a different website or via a different method. If they do this, the keylogger will record these attempts and the software will also log when internet access changed from a data connection to wi-fi.

6.Specifying Physical Boundaries

Geo-fencing, which is fully integrated with Google Maps, provides full functionality in location monitoring. With geo-fencing, you can set the physical parameters for your child’s activity and the software will notify you when your child leaves this designated area. This option provides the benefit of being able to monitor your child’s whereabouts without having to be physically present, so that it gives the child freedom while also allowing you to monitor what he or she is doing. This is especially useful if you have a concern that your child might not be telling the truth about their activities and you need to verify their whereabouts.

7.Recording and Security Options

Built-in security features include phone locking, remote data wiping and SIM card tampering alerts. These options can be a tremendous asset not only in protecting your child from negative influences, but also to avert catastrophe in more dangerous situations. Having the ability to lock your child’s phone and to remotely wipe its data can help to protect your child from identity theft if his or her device is lost or stolen. Such actions can also shield your son or daughter from potential predators who may be able to access personal information from a stolen device.

8.Jail Break, No Jail Break and Root

The mSpy software can be installed on Android devices that are running operating system versions 4 and above. To be able to monitor incoming instant messages, however, you will need to root the Android device you will be monitoring. Rooting of an Android device is the process of gaining complete control of the phone or tablet by enabling administrator privileges on the device. Rooting must be done very carefully because rooting will void the warranty. If done incorrectly, you will end up with a phone that is not only unusable but that also has no warranty. For a thorough discussion of rooting Android phones and tablets, you may want to check out Mark Jansen’s article that discusses the methods to use if you wish to root an Android phone, as well as the joys and risks of doing so.

The mSpy app is also compatible with all versions of iOS 7-11+ but provides a restricted set of options if it is installed on a device that is not jail broken. Jail breaking is the process of escalating privileges on an iOS device, allowing the user to gain administrative control of the iPad or iPhone. Installing mSpy on jail broken devices that are running iOS 7-8.4 and iOS 9.0-9.1 will offer the full set of options, which is not available on devices that are not jail broken.

On no jail break devices, you can still monitor notes, calendar, email, chats, phone calls and texts. You will be able to monitor WhatsApp conversations, but it will not be possible to monitor other messaging apps. You will also be able to gather information about the wi-fi hotspots that your child connects to. This information will be valuable if you have concerns about where your child may be spending his or her time, since the keylogger will provide location information about the hotspot connections.

On no jail break devices, you can view installed apps on your child’s phone. To be able to monitor or block apps on no jail break phones, however, you need your child’s Apple credentials and should also enable iCloud backup. You will need physical access to the device if iCloud backup is not activated. The advantage of the no jail break option is that it allows you to use mSpy even if you do not have access to your child’s phone, but the no jail break device will function with a restricted set of privileges because you will lack administrative access to the file system.

What Customers Are Saying About mSpy

As I was writing this mSpy review, I came across some testimonials that were submitted on Sitejabber by real customers. The reviews get at the heart of why parents install spyware in the first place and speak to the benefits the app can provide for parents.

If you enjoy watching videos, this YouTube video shows several customer perspectives in one short film. The mSpy app can be used in other situations where monitoring is needed, for example, employee phone use. If you have this type of monitoring need, these YouTube videos might be a good place to get additional information.

Alternative Products

Most mobile monitoring includes email and text monitoring, call blocking, website blocking, activity logging and browser history recording. If mSpy does not work for you, other solutions might be a better choice. I will summarize the features of two additional software programs to illustrate functions that might be available in monitoring systems.

Flexispy is available for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac, Nokia, and BlackBerry and is offered in Premium and Extreme versions. Purchase terms include one month, three months and twelve months. It integrates call interception, call recording and surroundings recording, but only the Extreme version includes password cracking.

Hoverwatch, another widely used program, tracks contacts, calendar activity, calls and texts, location, video, audio and popular Internet messaging services. Its unique features include call recording and detection of SIM card tampering. The disadvantage of is that it is only available for Android and Windows systems.

I compared mSpy, Flexispy and Hoverwatch, and came up with this summary:

  • Flexispy works on a broader range of compatible platforms but is more expensive than mSpy. Hoverwatch is only available for Windows and Android, but offers a variety of plan options that can cover up to five devices;
  • Flexispy offers call recording, ambient recording, and call interception, but several of its features are integrated into the Extreme version and are not part of the Premium subscription. While mSpy does not offer call recording or call interception, its keylogging feature is useful in gathering some of the same types of information that would be available to users of Flexispy;
  • Flexispy has short-term subscription plans that let you try the software before making a longer-term commitment, but the short-term plans are more expensive. While mSpy does not offer these options, it does offer a free seven-day trial and the regular subscription is less expensive than Flexispy;
  • Password cracking is unique to Flexispy, while the integration of geo-fencing with Google Maps is unique to mSpy. Hoverwatch and mSpy integrate SIM card tampering detection into their monitoring platforms;
  • Flexispy requires installation on a jail broken device and so is not available for iOS devices that are not jail broken. mSpy offers the option of installation on devices that are not jail broken. This issue is not relevant for Hoverwatch, since it is currently not available for iOS devices.

If you’d like more information you can read our full review on Flexispy. If you want to try Hoverwatch, this link will take you to their website.

Why mSpy and Where to Get It

My mSpy review would not be complete without me reiterating that mSpy can help you to keep your child safe and to know what he or she is doing. mSpy runs in the background so you never have to worry that your child might discover the monitoring. Because mSpy is compatible with most mobile devices, there is almost no device that your child uses that you will not be able to monitor. You can get a seven-day free trial by visiting the company’s blog or visit the official product website if you want to download the product with all features.

Best Cell Phone Spy Apps – How to Track ANY Phone

16 Oct

My wife and I don't agree on all sorts of things.  But when our daughter was old enough to have a smart phone AND started showing an interest in boys, we both decided that we needed to have at least SOME idea of what she was doing on her phone.  This got us looking into phone spyware.

​The cell phone spy marketplace is literally flooded with companies all claiming to offer the most powerful and user friendly software for monitoring iPhones, Androids, and other devices.  Unfortunately, many of them offer nothing but headaches, poor customer support, and frustration.

Whatever your personal reasons for needing to monitor someone's phone, this guide should help you determine which product to go with and how much you should pay.

​From apps with bare bones functionality to those that offer much more advanced features (like listening in LIVE to conversations), we'll cover it all.

Many of these apps offer VERY similar feature sets.  But we soon realized that solid technical support was one of the most important features of all.  We'll discuss this more below.

Other topics we'll cover:

  • ​Important Features & capabilities ​of spyware apps
  • ​Tracking & iPhone or Android Device without the owners knowledge
  • Our Top Rated ​spy apps along with pricing

Best Cell Phone Trackers & Spy Apps

Top Pick:

mSpy

Most Features:

FlexiSPY

Budget Pick: Highster

Compatibility:

iOS & Android Phones, iOS Tablets

Compatibility:

iOS & Android, Nokia, & Blackberry

Compatibility:

iOS & Android Phones

Key Benefits:

Excellent Tech Support, Great Price, Comprehensive Features

Key Benefits​:

Excellent Tech Support, Most Powerful Features

Key Benefits​:

Budget price, OK Tech Support, Access SMS & Messaging Apps

Jailbreak Required:

Only for advanced functionality

Jailbreak Required:

Jailbreak Required

Jailbreak Required:

No, but limits
functionality

Best Balance of Price & Functionality

Highest Priced, but Most Powerful Features

Bargain Price

click for best price

click for best price

click for best price


Maybe your child has been returning home very late without any good explanation. Maybe they’ve been spending a more than unusual amount of time on their phones. Perhaps, there’s someone else you need to keep an eye on.

There’s just no way to be there all the time to monitor their activities. With the amount of time our children are spending on their phones these days, there’s no way to be sure. That’s why you need a way to confidently look after yourself, your loved one’s and the people close to you. No more worrying — you want to be certain.

In my endeavor to keep a close eye on our kid’s and the multitude of ways they may be using their phones these days, I’ve installed, tested and ranked many different spy software programs. In this article, I’ve assembled everything I’ve learned about the best cell phone spy software in an attempt to help you towards certainty when deciding which spy program to go with.

In the following sections you’ll find out about:
   The Best Phone Tracking Apps and how much they cost
   How to use spy apps to track an iPhone or Android device without them knowing
  What is spy software and what can it do for you
  The different mobile spy app features you’ll need to consider

Best Cell Phone Trackers & Spy Apps

So many companies claim they have the best spy app on the market, but what actually is the difference between one from another?

Here’s the two main differences: Reliability and technical support.

In my extensive research, I’ve found that these spyware apps function very similarly and offer much of the same features. That being said, they do differ in there:

Difficulty of Installation
Reliability
Customer Support

The goal of spy software is to make our lives easier, less stressful, and more certain. To be sure, I’ve decided to highlight for you the MOST IMPORTANT features to consider and offer you the 5 best cell phone spy software packages out there including a

  • Breakdown of price comparisons
  • Whether the spy app requires jailbreaking or rooting the cell phone
  • Location tracking & message reading performance
  • Super spy operations
  • More convenient features  
  • Custom/ technical support & assessment

Next, I’ll be helping guide you in your decision to choose the best mobile spyware for the safety of yourself, your children, and the people close to you. Because after all, in my experience you can never be too sure.

Well, let’s get right into it then, shall we?

​My ​Favorite Spy Apps

(If you want to see the basic features you can find these software suites at the bottom of this article).

#1 - mSpy
mSpy is one of the most popular cell phone spy software packages on the market today. It works on iOS (iPhones, iPads, etc.) and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows computers.

mSpy has the clear advantage of not requiring a jailbreak or rooting of the target device to begin your monitoring. If you’re not the most tech savvy, then this will surely save you a lot of time and frustration.

If you’re looking for an easy and intuitive cell phone tracker app interface that allows you to quickly see all relevant information on one dashboard about the target device, mSpy is definitely a great pick for you.

​Top Spy App for Android & iPhones

Are you an Apple family? An Android family? Doesn’t matter. mSpy has got you covered with all of the basic features you need. This includes monitoring texts, email spy, instant messages, contacts, call spying, pinpointing their GPS location as well as some extras only the mSpy app offers to spy on cell phone.

mSpy's Powerful Features!

GEO-Fencing
mSpy offers a very clever function with its GEO-fencing capability. Not only will you know your child’s current location at all times using the cell phone tracker app, but to also setup perimeters or zones which you consider safe or unsafe. If your target device enters or leaves these areas, the mSpy spy app will immediately notify you.

For example, you’ve had to go to work all day but you still want to know the whereabouts of your child’s daily activity. Setup a safe zone around your home, their school, wherever you see fit. Any time they exit their “safe zones” mSpy will notify you right away. Need to monitor an employee? Maybe a spouse? This technology is why mSpy is up there as our best spyware pick.

Keylogging Tracker

mSpy’s keylogging feature gives you the ability to catch all the target phone’s keystrokes. With this you will know exactly what is being typed in various apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger. Or maybe you need to know what their internet searches, usernames and passwords are? Keylogging from mSpy cell phone spyware does this too.

Control Access to Apps and Websites

Are you worried about the unlimited access your child has to the boundless applications and websites right at the tips of their fingers? mSpy spyware app has a great feature that gives you the ability to specify and block the apps and websites you see as inappropriate.

App Activity Tracker

With just a little extra effort and a jailbreaking of the target phone, mSpy is the top phone app to give you almost total access to their entire phone. This includes apps such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Line, and Tinder. This powerful tool means you can closely monitor your target phone and user’s messaging across any platform they may use. 


Customer Support

We all know that when it comes to technology, customer support is a necessity. Although, as I mentioned before, the functionality of these apps only differ a little bit but mSpy stands unique in this category because of its instinctive interface and 24/7 customer support. You pay for quality here folks — but don’t get me wrong, if you’re willing to spend a little bit extra for your sanity (which if you’ve read this far already, you’re likely prepared to do!), mSpy’s troubleshooting service can save you from any stressful technical issues.

Works with Androids & iPhones

Unlike other spy software packages that will only work with one operating system, mSpy will work for both. You can android spy and do the same for an iPhone at the same time. mSpy allows you to quickly switch between the devices you’re monitoring or tracking on your dashboard.

Three Affordable Software Packages 

Depending on the features you need, mSpy cell phone spyware has three different price breakdowns. Here’s what you’ll get with each:

No Jailbreak Tracker Package:  
This package is installed without the need for jailbreaking your target device. If the device is setup for regular backups and you also have the user’s iCloud log-in information, you’ll get free cell phone spy without access to target phone. Then the mSpy phone spy app will transfer all of the tracking data and information straight to your dashboard to view whenever convenient.  
As Low As
$16.65/mo

It may be the easiest to install, but the no-jailbreak package includes the least amount of capabilities in terms of tracking your target’s device. You’ll be able to track:

  • WhatsApp
  • Text messages
  • iMessage
  • Calendar, notes & tasks
  • Website history
  • Installed applications
  • 24/7 chat & email support
  • Call history & contact list

The no-jailbreak mSpy cell phone spy software does not include Geo-fencing, access to apps like Tinder, Snapchat, or Line, GPS tracking, or keylogging features.


Basic Tracker Package: 

This package is available to you with or without jailbreaking the target phone. The Basic Tracker Package contains similar capabilities as the no-jailbreak package. Nonetheless, if you can jailbreak the target phone, the functionality increases considerably.

As Low As

$8.33/mo


If you’re a do it yourself kind of parent, go for it. If you need a little extra technical guidance, a technician at mSpy can remotely take care of it for you for a small fee. You’ll need to have physical access to the target device no matter what. This package includes everything offered in the no-jailbreak package, plus:

Email

Photos and videos

Keyword alerts

GPS Location

Browser bookmarks

Uninstall alerts

Installation help

24/7 email support

Premium Tracker Package:

From your personalized phone spy dashboard, this Premium package offers you total access to everything on the target device. Although you will need to jailbreak the phone, you will get the totality of the feature set and once again, you can do the jailbreaking yourself or have an mSpy technician remotely do it for you.

As Low As

$16.67/mo


Quick video highlighting installation of this tracker app on an iOS device.


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Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.


Yes, you’ll need physical access to the target device, but in return you get all of the features from the basic and no-jailbreak package as well as the following:

App & Website blocking

Geo-fencing

Keylogging

Incoming call block

Remote device lock & wipe

Access to top phone apps like Snapchat, Tinder, Skype, Viber & Hangouts, Line, Telegram, as well as FACEBOOK MESSENGER

24/7 chat & email support

Try it Before You Buy it

mSpy makes sure you are entirely comfortable with their spy app before you purchase. To ensure this, they offer you an mSpy FREE TRIAL on their website to let you see exactly how their phone spyware operates. Try it before you buy it at their website http://www.mspy.com/demo

Pros


No Jailbreak required

Substantial feature set

Instinctive dashboard

Excellent customer support

Cons


A bit higher priced

No-jailbreak package requires iCloud access


Final Thoughts

mSpy is without a doubt the best spy app on the market and definitely my favorite and best spy software. In total it provides no-jailbreak and jailbreak versions, intuitive control panel and dashboard, easy installation, and is very well-priced.

Although the no-jailbreak feature set is slightly limited, if you go for the full version, you’ll get everything you need for total certainty.

You may not get some of the more advanced features as my second pick for best phone monitoring app (call intercept or call recording), this cell phone spying software offers the best value overall.


#2 - FlexiSPY - Best Phone Spy Apps Without Permission


FlexiSPY is another one of the most popular and best phone spy apps on the market. This spy mobile app has all of the features of mSpy with a couple incredible features not offered by any of the other phone spy software on the market.

Since 2005, FlexiSPY has been setting the bar for the most cutting-edge monitoring and tracking capabilities out there.



Most Powerful iPhone and Android Monitoring App


The app works on a vast array of phones including the iPhone, Android, iPad, Nokia Symbian, and the Blackberry.  Although this cell phone spy app is the most powerful out of my cell phone spyware reviews, it is more appropriate for the tech savvy type.

As was with mSpy, you’ll have the option to either jailbreak or root (for Androids) the target device, though to get the most advanced feature sets for this spy app, you need to jailbreak or root the phone.

FlexiSPY will also jailbreak your device for you for a little extra.

This spy phone app, once jailbroken and installed on the target device, will allow you to track and record activities such as phone calls, voicemails, GPS location, SMS messages, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp messages, emails, Viber, all photos and videos (even within apps), contacts, and much, much more.

You may be thinking, ok, those capabilities seem pretty normal. Where FlexiSPY really gets its reputation for being the most technically sophisticated and best phone apps is in its advanced feature set. Do you want full access to monitoring your child, employee or spouse? Well, there’s no doubt FlexiSPY intends to have you covered.


FlexiSPY Cell Phone Spy Software Advanced Feature Set



Track and Intercept Calls

This feature will give you the ability to listen in on incoming and outgoing calls in real-time. Easily and right in your dashboard, you can arrange to be notified for calls coming from or going out to the phone numbers you specify.  

Via 3-way calling, after your target has placed a call, you will be immediately notified and patched in. This is not like listening in on a land line— no breathing noises to give you away (as long as you mute the phone on your side)— your target, the person they’re calling, none of them will no you’re listening in.

Record Phone Calls

At work? In a meeting? You can have the spy phone app record all incoming and outgoing phone calls. Listen to them later or at your convenience. The recording will be stored for easy access in your dashboard. Once again, you can specific contacts and numbers to auto-record.


Ambient Listen Mode

This convenient feature allows you to remotely and discretely flip on the microphone of the target device giving you the ability to listen to the ambient surroundings of their phone. Want to turn it on at specific times? Go ahead and schedule times and the phone spy will record them to your control panel. You can listen in in real time as well.

Remote Camera Control

This feature will allow you to enable the camera remotely. Turn it on and take a picture of what’s going on around it. For your convenience, the pics will be uploaded directly to your dashboard.

Additional Features

Not only can you track messages from a huge variety of apps, but FlexiSPY will give you the ability to record and hear VOIP calls from Skype, SnapChat, and many others. Also, use FaceTime to monitor an iPad using the camera and microphone to monitor all that is going on around the phone.


Spy on Text Messages

Nonetheless, you can use SMS text spoofing to secretly send messages on behalf of the target phone. You’ll be in a unique position to gather additional information from your target’s contacts who won’t be able to know its not the owner using the device. 


Spy on iPhones, Androids, Nokia, and Blackberrys


Need to use FlexiSPY’s powerful feature set to spy on other devices. No problem. You can easily spy on iPhones, Androids, Nokia phones, and Blackberry’s.

FlexiSPY spy apps are available in two different priced packages: the Premium and Extreme package. Next I’ll break down the perks of each and their costs. 


FlexiSPY Premium: 

You can use FlexiSPY without jailbreaking or rooting the phone, for full access to the feature set you should perform this first step. You can also pay a little extra to have someone from FlexiSPY to set it up for you from a remote location. 


As Low As

$149

 For 12 mo


FlexiSPY’s Premium package will offer you all the functions of mSpy. This includes access to phone call logs, SMS messages, Facebook Messenger, videos and photos, and a long list of other conversing and media apps. 



FlexiSPY Extreme: 

FlexiSPY’s Extreme package is akin to the backdoor access the CIA and NSA reportedly have to our phones. This package allows you to track and record almost everything that happens on and all around the target device. With a little tech savviness, this package will give you absolute control over monitoring your target at all times, no matter if you’re in the bedroom over or cities away.

As Low As

$349

 For 12 mo


Includes the following:

    Call intercept

    Record incoming & outgoing calls

    Ambient listening mode

    Remote camera control

    Text spoofing

Pros


    Allows access to almost everything


    Easily accessible dashboard

    Invisible on target phone


    Top-line customer support

Cons


    More expensive

    Requires rooting or jailbreaking


Is FlexiSPY the right choice for you?


Are you tech savvy and willing to spend more for quality? Then FlexiSPY is a great choice. The Extreme package includes unrivaled technology that allows you to know everything your target knows .

#3 - Highster Mobile Review (Top Android App)


Highster mobile reviews:

Highster Mobile Pro is another great option for a phonespy app for parents needing to monitor their children’s phones. It offers a number of the same powerful features as the other phone spyapps we’ve covered thus far.

The ease of installation and configuration you get with Highster is great for you parents that may not be the most technically inclined. The dashboard and interface contain very similar capabilities to mSpy and FlexiSPY but doesn’t include some their more advanced capabilities. 




Cheapest Spyware Tracking App

Highster’s Mobile Pro Edition is a spy app that gives you a  lot of bang for your buck. It may not have some the advanced features as mSpy or FlexiSPY, but it still offers important abilities at a much lower price point. If you’re watching your pocket and don’t need all of the advanced tracking powers, Highster Mobile Pro is perfect for you. 


Features of Highster Mobile Pro



GPS Tracking

Right from your control panel, you’ll be able to monitor the location of your target in real-time. Accurate down to 20 meters, the target device’s location will be displayed on a map in the spy app.

Call Tracking

Highster cell phone spy will log all incoming and outgoing calls and their respective date/time and durations right into your control panel.

Access Photos & Videos

All of the photos and videos on the target phone will be available for you to view. That way you’ll be able to see what pictures and videos your kids are viewing and also what they are sending and receiving.

Easily View Browsing History

We all know the boundless searching powers that having the internet right at our children’s finger tips gives them. With Highster, you’ll be able to keep tabs on the browsing history of your target device. Highster cleverly stores all of this browsing data on their remote servers, so even if the history on the phone is cleared, you can still view all the URL’s they’ve searched.

Social Media & App Tracking

More now than ever, our kids are using social media to communicate. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, and others are all viewable in Highster. You’ll have access to the usage and messages sent in these apps.


SMS Text Messages

Highster also allows you to see all the text messages sent and received from the target phone. Once again, even if your kid deletes the messages, you’ll still have a record of them.

Phone Camera Control

This feature give you the literal ability to see with your own eyes what’s going on around your target’s phone. Maybe your kid is hanging around with friends you don’t trust— well, don’t worry, just snap some photos from Highster and you’ll know exactly what’s up.


Although mSpy and FlexiSPY may have the most spy phone app feature functions, Highster is by design, the MOST user friendly. That means no confusion with how to use their powerful monitoring features. That includes a hassle free and easy installation and setup.

In that same vein, Highster has the advantage of offering a support package. For about $30 you will have telephone support which is great if some pesky technical difficulties arise along the way.

Pros


    Best pricing at one-time $69 payment

    Phone technical support at $30

    Easy installation and setup

    No jailbreak or root required

Cons


    No call intercept

    No ambient noise recording



For more information and pricing check out http://www.highster.com

You can also read our in depth Highster Mobile review.

4 - Mobile Spy Reviews

Retina-X Studio’s Mobile Spy cell phone tracker is yet another top android and iPhone monitoring and tracking spy phone app. Like the other spy apps I’ve covered, it allows you to view and store text messages, call logs, social media apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, photos and videos, GPS locations, plus a few other admirable features.

This cell phone spy app is designed specifically for us worried parents and employers. You can track everything on the target devices with ease and security. Mobile Spy is one of the best mobile apps for parents because they’ve devised a multi-device support system right in your dashboard to easily switch from monitoring one device to the next.

Once you’ve verified the compatibility of the devices you’re looking to monitor (which can be done easily by using the compatibility wizard on Mobile Spy’s website), you’ll be able to track multiple devices with ease and certainty. Installation and setup are super simple too. Although this is NOT it’s intended use, this spy app will let you monitor a phone without permission by the user.

However, how you use the powerful features of Mobile Spy is completely up to you.




Mobile Spy requires you to jailbreak your iOS devices before beginning monitoring. If thats not an option for whatever reason, then you’re better off going with another option like mSpy or Highster Mobile.

As far as android spy apps go, Mobile Spy is a good choice because you can get the most functionality without rooting the device. Though if you want to access apps like Facebook Messenger, Skype, Viber, and Line you will need to root the device.

Mobile Spy has a lot of the same functions as the other best spy apps I’ve covered so far but it does have some distinctive and competitive features that call for your attention. 





Mobile Spy Features



Live Control Panel

The LIVE Control Panel gives you the ability to connect to the device live to check in whenever you want.

View the Screen

A special feature offered by Mobile Spy. This allows you to view a screenshot of the target device updated every 90 seconds.

Instant GPS Tracker

Easily locate the target phone on a map so you know the exact location of the owner and the device at all times.

Keylogging

Capture all keystrokes entered into the device. Yes, even those that have been deleted. Then view them under the General Logs.

In addition to the aforementioned features, you’ll have the powerful ability of GEO-fencing. This will notify you when the device enters or leaves your designated safe and/or restricted areas. Also, you’ll get keyword notifications that let you know about your target’s use of particular words or phrases. Additionally, it will notify you of the use of profanity used or viewed by your child on their devices.

Mobile Spy phone spy also gives you the power to block certain applications, remotely lock and unlock the phone, see Youtube videos that your child has watched on the device, and it even gives you the capability to view gmail messages (requires rooting for Android/ jailbreaking for iPhone).



One thing to note in this Mobile Spy spy app review is that by default the target phone will be notified that they are being monitored. To enable “stealth monitoring” you’ll need to configure “Show Icon and Notification” setting to the off position for spy stealth capabilities. The user will have no idea you are monitoring them.

Mobile Spy Price Breakdown


They offer two packages:

The Basic Plan starts at $49.97 for three months.  Or the yearly plan for $99.97.  The Basic Plan includes the following:

    Photos

    Online Commands

    SMS Text Messages

    GPS Location Tracking

    Call Logging

    Web Activity and History

    Social Media Tracking

    Multimedia Messages

    Gmail (rooted/ jailbroken) & email

    iMessages

    Blackberry PIN Messages

    Apps Installed & App Blocking

    Contacts

    Calendar and Tasks

    Cell ID Locations

    SMS Commands (lock/unlock/GPS)

    Alerts

    Stealth Mode

    Live Chat

    Support Tickets


The Premium package includes all of the features from the Basic package plus the following:

    Live Control Panel

    View Screen Live

    Instant GPS Map Tracker


The Premium package starts at $64.97 for three months. The yearly plan is offered at $139.97.

Pros


    App can be operated in stealth mode or not

    Live control panel offers ultimate access

    Simple installation and setup

    Built-in multi-device support

Cons


    A bit pricey

    No ambient noise recording

    Requires jailbreaking or rooting for most features


Final Thoughts

This topspy app is great for many reasons. The Live Control Panel is a really nice touch. For you parents who need to monitor multiple devices, Mobile Spy has got you covered. In the control panel you can quickly switch between each device.

Although you can disable this feature, by default an icon pops up on the screen of your target device to tell them they are being monitored. If you just want extra certainty while still providing transparency then default mode is fine. Likely, you’ll receive a more realistic picture of whats going on if the user isn’t being reminded they are being monitored.

And how could I not mention, Mobile Spy’s customer support is stellar. You can find answers to almost any question you may have right on their website. They also have a superior tech support team, you can contact whenever.

Mobile Spy spyware for android and iPhone is a great product. Find more info and a demo of the spy app on their website.

5.  iKeyMonitor

iKeyMonitor is yet another one of the best phone spy apps. It is user friendly and a strong monitoring tool. It includes many of the same features as the other apps on this mobile spy review in addition to an online dashboard for reviewing the target device’s data.

Jailbreaking or rooting the device is necessary to get iKeyMonitor’s full functionality. If this won’t suit you may want to go with mSpy or Highster Mobile.


iKeyMonitor: Significant Features


Free 3-Day Trial

iKeyMonitor is one of the very few products out there that gives you a taste before you buy. They give you a 3-Day free cell phone spy trial to test out all of their features before you sign up. Figure out if you’re comfortable with their format, feature sets, etc., before you make the investment on your child’s and your own safety. What an offer!

Powerful Keylogger

iKeyMonitor boasts an extraordinarily powerful feature with their Keylogger. It can literally record ANY keystroke entered on the target device. Any app, any messenger, you’ll know what’s being inputed, typed and said. And yes, this even includes passwords that are usually hidden from your view. It all will be visible in the logs sent to your dashboard or email.

Screenshot Capture

This feature will let you see exactly what your child sees on their phone at any time of your choosing. Whenever you choose, you can capture the screen. That means, apps being used, websites being visited, texts, messengers, video chats, and more.

Social Media Tracking

iKeyMonitor has one of the biggest lists of social media app monitoring capabilities on the market. This includes: Tinder, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SnapChat, Line, Kik, Viber, QQ, and more.

Limit Screentime

With the emerging research on the detriments of too much phone screen time on sleep and mental health, maybe we should limit this. This feature allows you to do just that.



iKeyMonitor Price Breakdown 


Two packages:

Standard Package — $29.99/mo or $11.99/mo when you sign up for a whole year. The features included are as follows:

SMS Messages

Call History Monitoring

Keystroke Logger

Websites Tracking

Touch Actions

WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, LIne, Kik, Hangouts Facebook Messenger

Block apps/ games

GPS Location Tracker

Contacts

Logs to Email/FTP

Invisible after installation    


The only thing about the Standard Package is that you won’t get the online dashboard. I think this is unfortunately pretty limiting and for this reason I highly recommend the Online Package.

Online Package — $44.99/mo or $22.49/mo when you sign up for a year. This will give you access to all of the information from the device being tracked in an online dashboard. Including the helpful online dashboard, there are some extras:

Voice Messages

Call Recording (Android only)

Ambient Listen (Android only)

Photos and Videos

Clipboard

Calendar & Notes

Wifi History


Final Thoughts


iKeyMonitor is a solid choice amongst the spying apps I’ve reviewed. Installation requires a bit more technical focus than most of the other apps I’ve tested, but once installed and set up it seemed very manageable. All the functionality and features operate as advertised.

This spy app requires rooting (Android) or jailbreaking (iOS) the device in question for full functionality. If this isn’t something you’re interested in doing on your own, then go with a different mobilespy app that will do this for you for a small fee. Or, go with Highster, as that app doesn’t require it.

In terms of value, iKeyMonitor is $6 per month more than mSpy for pretty much the same functionality. This is why it came in number five in my review. I should tell you though, that iKeyMonitor’s keylogger feature will record EVERYTHING that happens on the target device. If you’re willing to search through the logs, you’ll be able to see literally everything typed on the phone. For more information go to https://ikeymonitor.com/.


mSpy vs. FlexiSPY:

mSpy vs FlexiSPY are the two more popular cell phone spy software. Although I’ve extensively tested both and really like both, mSPY is my favorite and you can read the mSpy review here. FlexiSPY will require you to jailbreak the iPhone or root your Android phone, but also gives you more features. I’ve covered all the specifics in my FlexiSPY review.


Picking the Best Software for Your Needs

Keep in mind, the best spy apps for android type phones may not be the best pick for an iPhone. While many of these cell phone spy softwares will work on both platforms, the discrepancies in the operating systems will be what limit the capabilities and functionalities of the spy app.

Best iPhone Spy Apps


Apple’s iOS software platform makes it so that iPhone spy apps can pretty much be categorized as those apps that require jailbreaking the device and those that don’t.

Yet, mSpy is the exception. With mSpy all you need is the iCloud login credentials of the user to get MOST of the information from the phone. This means  you’ll be able to access all of the regular backups stored by the phone without installing the software directly to the phone.

For iPhones, mSpy offers the most flexibility. It’s also great for those of us who aren’t the most apt to complex technology. For these reasons, mSpy is my pick for the best spy app for iPhones. 


Top spy apps for Android 


Samsung and Google phones use the Android operating system developed by Google. Once again, the best android spyware is also mSpy. Functionality depends on if you root the device or not. Rooting gives you more access to more information. Spying apps for android don’t offer the equivalent of iCloud backup spying. Androids just simply don’t use that backup method.

You may be wondering, SO what can I all track with one of these stealth spy apps?



Key Features to Look For in a Phone Tracking App

Cell phone spy software is meant so that we can have more certainty in our lives. Whether you need to track or monitor the phone of a child, employee, or anyone else, there are a few features you should think about before purchasing.

Tracking the Cell Phone's GPS Location

The importance of this feature cannot be stressed enough. As concerned parents, employers, or spouses, the location of the phone or person is essential to maximizing our certainty. Every app I’ve covered here allows you to track the exact location but some even log their location over a specific time frame.

Also, if being able to set up perimeters or ‘safe zones’ so that you are notified when the person enters or exits them is important to you, make sure you pick the right cell phone spy software for you.

Hack Your Child's Text Messages Without Them Knowing

All of these apps I’ve highlighted offer this powerful feature. For some, you don’t even have to install the software on the target device to see their text messages.

And some will give you the ability to log all texts. So even if the user deletes the messages on their device, you’ll still have them in your control panel.

For parents, this is an invaluable feature. For your children or your spouse, keep track of who they’re talking with and what they’re saying. And if need be, with mSpy you can even hack someones text messages by installing software on their phone. All you’ll need to know is their iCloud login information.

Monitoring Social Media and Chat Apps

Every day there seems to be a new way that our children can communicate. The endless amounts of chatting apps that kids have begun to use on their phones include Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, WhatsApp, Skype, Tinder, LINE, and more. This means you’ll need a spy software with crafty, tech savvy features to get full spying functionality.

Although spying on conversations on WhatsApp or Tinder may be a bit more intricate than spying on SMS texts or a phone call log, there are several phone spy apps that offer this capability and more.

What I really appreciate about my best spyware picks is that you can hack into chat conversations across multiple platforms. From there, you can see it all from one intuitive dashboard.


How to Spy on Someone's SnapChat


Does your child spend a lot of time on Snapchat? It’s a very secretive app and kids can use it in a number of inappropriate ways. Well, with the power of spyware and a little effort to jailbreak or root the device, you can hack their Snapchat texts, photos and videos. Some of my ‘best spyware’ picks will let you spy on certain cell phone apps without that requirement.

Both mSpy and FlexiSPY spy mobile programs allow you to spy on someones Snapchat messages and pictures, but you’ll need to jailbreak the phone first.



How to Hack Someone's Snapchat Password

Keystroke logging tools are a fantastic feature for hacking someone’s Snapchat account. With a keystroke logger you’ll literally see EVERYTHING typed into the phone. Yep, that includes usernames and passwords.

Once you have the necessary credentials you can see their Snapchat chats, photos, videos and history. Several of the cell phone spy apps I’ve covered include the keylogging feature and work with Android and iPhone.


How to Hack Into Someone's Facebook Messenger

Once again, if you can jailbreak or root the target device, some of the more powerful spying apps will give you the ability to read facebook messages and view history.

The keylogging feature can capture login credentials but the user might not type this very often so it could take a while to get that information stored in your logs.


Tracking Emails

Email communication might not be as popular amongst kids and teens, but it’s definitely still an accessible, relevant communication tool and therefore should be monitored closely. Any of the apps I review above will offer this capability to monitor email.

Tracking Cell Phone Call Logs

The ability to see a log of incoming and outgoing phone calls is crucial to knowing exactly who they call and who’s calling them. Many of the apps will store that information for you to review at your leisure. Some of the best phone apps will let you record calls.


Tracking & Capturing Keystrokes

Keystroke capture feature lets you view anything typed. This includes chats, texts, emails, usernames, and passwords. Some of the best phone apps will notify you when specific keywords of your choosing are typed into the target device. 


Solid Customer Support

Don’t underrate the importance of good customer support when dealing with technology. All of the spyware apps I reviewed offer good technical customer support. Depending on your needs and tech savviness, one app may be better than another.





Tracking an iPhone or Android Without The User Knowing & Without Permission



Smart phones have always been trackable. Since there conception, software to track and monitor them have also existed. In this article, I’ve reviewed my favorite picks for your consideration.

I think these apps, when configured and used correctly, are really helpful tools. I want to let you know about what these spy apps can do, what some people use them for, and how you can install them on a target device. Remember, it is your decision to inform the person who’s using the phone that you are tracking them. When it comes to gaining certainty as parents, spouses, and/or employers, it is your right to find out what’s going on behind their phones. 


All of the best hidden spy apps for android and best cell phone spyware for iPhones that I cover in this article are totally undetectable. For most of these you WILL have to have physical access to the phone in order to install. From that point on the monitoring and tracking is hidden and everything is done remotely.

Don’t want the owner of the target device to be aware you are monitoring them? No problem. I tell you about how to track a cell phone location without them knowing in another article.


Compatibility with Android and iPhone Devices


Some of these spy apps are designed specifically to spy on iPhones, while others are only intended for Androids. Some apps for spy will work on both platforms. So, if you’re planning on tracking both and iPhone and an Android, you’ll want to check to make sure you choose one that can work on both operating systems.


Common Uses for Cell Phone Tracker Apps

There are a variety of reasons you may feel the need to know what someone is using their phone for. As a parent, I appreciate the certainty these apps provide me when I’m unable to physically be present to monitor my children’s whereabouts, search history, etc. These best mobile spying software offer tracking as well as many other handy tools and options. Here is a list of the most common of uses.









Best Parental Control Apps for iPhone and Android Cell Phones



When it comes to our children, we’ll do just about anything to protect them. While in an ideal world, we’d want to be able to trust them to make the best decisions for their health and safety, smart phones give them the ability to access A LOT of information that will expose them to many undesirable and potentially dangerous things and characters.

Kids will be kids. And that’s totally fine! But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect them from being exposed to too much, too early in their lives.

With a mobile phone spy app, you can track (and monitor) what websites they browse, who they’re talking to, chatting with, and they’re physical location to make sure that your kids aren’t getting caught up in anything unhealthy or unsafe.

For example, maybe your daughter is just starting to date. I know, that’s worrisome already! With this software you’ll be able to know if her and her date are going where they said they were going. The most powerful of these spy apps will let you track her phone to within 20 meters. Some software will even let you set up “safe” and “unsafe” zones based on GPS. The app will notify you when she enters or exits your designated zones.

And as the owner of her phone, all of this can be done without permission and without her knowledge. We care about the safety of our children, and these apps are intended to provide that certainty. 


How to Track Your Husband or Wife's Phone


For whatever reason you may need, this tracking software will allow you to pinpoint the location of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife with ease.

Not to mention, these hidden spy apps will also allow you to monitor and track texts, chats, social apps (like Tinder), incoming and outgoing calls, and GPS location.

You’ll even see a history of every place they’ve been in the last 24 hours on a neatly laid out map.

Just install one of these apps to spy on phones and then it will run in the background. Then, from your control panel you can view just about everything and ANYTHING that takes place on their phone.

Tracking an Employees Phone Location and Usage


Employers know that employees need a smart phone to communicate with you, fellow employees and clients. The downside of this is that with all the games, social media apps, and websites that they can access with today’s smart phones, there are too many opportunities for even our best employees to mess around when they should be working.

Spy apps for Android and iPhones let you track employers track your employees app usage, messaging, locations, and much more. Although, you place your trust in the individuals you hire, but honestly, sometimes you need to be certain that they’re where they should be, doing what they should be doing (their jobs), and not wasting your time and money sneakily playing games on their phones.

Maybe you run a company in a highly competitive market and you need to know that your employees aren’t communicating with the competition. Well, with a spy app, you can easily record and listen to their phone conversations. Some of these apps will keep a log and record every incoming and outgoing call on their phone(s). There’s nothing wrong with doing what you need to do to protect your business and yourself.

Depending on the level of functionality you need, there are some free cell phone spy software options as well.

Spy App FAQ


Here’s some answers to common question you all have about installing and using these secret spy apps.

Can I remotely install spyware on a cell phone?

No. You need physical access to your target device for installation. The exception is that their are apps that can get around this requirement by letting you directly access the device’s info via their iCloud account. But obviously, these only work on iOS platforms. With all the others, you’ll need to get your hands on the target device for at least a few minutes to install the software.

Can mSpy Be Installed Remotely?

Yes. mSpy can be installed remotely if you get the non-jailbreak version. Though, as it utilizes iCloud storage to gather data, you won’t get full functionality and it offers fewer monitoring features than the standard version.

Can you track the location of a cell phone?

Without a question, ALL of these spyware packages I’ve reviewed in this article give you the ability to closely track the physical location of each of your target devices.

By utilizing their GPS location data, spy apps like mSpy and FlexiSPY will allow you to track devices even if they’re NOT connected to the internet.

What is the best app for phone tracking?

My top pick in this spy review is mSpy. It gives you the best balance of price and features. Also, not to look past, is their amazing customer support!

How does a spy app work?


After you install, you’ll monitor a device’s activity and location remotely. First, find out if the phone itself is compatible. Most of these cell phone spy apps have a requirement that you download and install the software to the cell phone.

Can Snapchat be monitored by parents?

YES. My top pick, mSpy, allows parents to closely monitor everything your child is sending on Snapchat. You can also see who they’re texting, emailing, calling, messaging, and their location. mSpy can also monitor other apps such as WhatsApp and Skype.

What are the Best Spy Programs for iPhone?

My top picks for the best spy apps for iPhone/iPad (iOS) devices are:

mSpy

FlexiSPY

Highster Mobile

TeenSafe

What are the Best Tracking Apps for Monitoring Android Devices?

My top picks for the best tracking app for android are:

mSpy

FlexiSPY

Highster Mobile

TeenSafe

In Conclusion

While these are my favorite spy apps, there are more out there that are popular on the market as well. TeenSafe is another very popular one that allows parents to keep tabs on the messages, physical location, and pictures being sent from your child’s phone. If you want the best that the market has to offer, my researched recommendation is that you go with mSpy.


Home Automation: Making the Complex Simple

16 Dec

One of the most difficult tasks for those working in the world of technology is to understand that not everyone loves this stuff as much as we do.  Jason, of Audio Video Experts in Los Angeles, wouldn’t think twice of standing in line to be one of the first to put hands on the new iPhone, for many people technology is simply a nuisance.  It is something that they must endure each day to accomplish everything they need to do.

custom home theater control

Understanding these differences in people can literally make or break a company.  Steve Jobs had an intuitive understanding of this concept.  If you can create a device that is so simple to use that it removes all fear from the end user, you will be successful.  But if you can make that device draw those same people in, you will have a wildly successful business. (with people standing in line to buy  your products)

Technology in the Home

While this is obviously important for devices such as an iPhone, it is even more important when it is something that people HAVE to use within their own home.  One of the biggest hurdles any technology company must overcome when selling a high performance home theater or home automation system is a member of the family that is anathema to all things technology.

In many couples this ends up being the wife.  I’m not saying all wives, but in my experience the majority of those that took the most convincing were female.  I’m not going to make any sort of hypothetical statements as to why this is, it just is.  But there is very good logic behind it.

In many cases our TV’s and stereo systems are ridiculously difficult to control.  How many times have you seen a coffee table full of remotes and a printed set of instruction for simply turning on the TV.  There is no good reason things should be this difficult.  And most women, rightly so, cannot see the logic in spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a system from which they will get no enjoyment.

This is why it is hugely important to have an intuitive and easy to use interface for all home automation touch panels and controls.  In terms of importance, it’s right up there with choosing the right hardware.  Most large home automation company’s have a wide variety of graphics available for their panels.  This is a good start, but you need to make sure that the system you program is also logical and makes sense.

One company that has done a wonderful job with this within the audio-video industry is Kaleidescape.  We referenced their products in an earlier article here.  They’re interface sells a product that would otherwise be insanely overpriced.

Selling Technology

In one of the most brilliant selling techniques I’ve seen during a consultation, the owner, Jason, of Audio Video Experts in Los Angeles hands the high end touch panel not to the man in his office that is already sold on the system, but to his wife, who is at best skeptical about the whole thing.  He then asks her to operate the system in his office.

Once she’s comfortable with the controls, all the pressure is gone.  This makes things easier on the husband, wife, and integrator.  And it all comes down to finding an interface that is logical, intuitive, and easy to use.

These sorts of things don’t happen by accident.  It takes testing, trial and error, and retesting to get an interface that will disarm technophobes of their fear.  But if you can overcome this hurdle, it makes the job of selling much easier.

Home Theater Controls

The best place to start is with the controls of the home theater.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the winner of the Best Home Theater Installation like Audio Video Experts in Los Angeles in all the big publications.  If you’re clients cannot use their systems easily and consistently, they will never get full enjoyment from them.

Once you’ve mastered these sorts of controls it is relatively easy to ramp up to more complex controls such as whole house panels that include climate control, audio-video, lighting, and security.  Just be sure to test everything in house before you implement them in a clients home.

When done properly, a solid interface can be as important to your reputation as the customer service you provide.  This is, after all, the face of your business once you leave the job site.

Best Practices: How One Integrator Drives Customer Loyalty with Service

15 Nov

Home theaters are practically a must have in every new home that is built. They were once seen as luxuries, but now if you don’t have one your home is almost seen as somehow incomplete. You can spend any amount of money you want on a serious home theater installation says Scott A. of Innovative Sight & Sound.

They range in price from DIY type systems costing $500 to upwards of $1,000,000. Obviously there are some serious performance differences when it comes to this type of price disparity. But just because you went the budget route, doesn’t mean you wont’ be able to enjoy your system.

lighting control interface

Graphics by GUIFx

In fact independent of the money they spent, most homeowners rate their enjoyment based upon how easy the system is to use. Companies that ensure their clients are capable of quickly turning on and off their system record the highest levels of client satisfaction. This may sound pretty basic. However, basic control is anything but basic.

Designing an Interface

Plenty of home theater contractors spend countless hours trying to come up with a decent GUI (graphical user interface) for their clients remote controls. But coming up with a design that is intuitive and efficient is hard work. On top of that it needs to aesthetically pleasing to the eye. And while it can be challenging and fun to design these sorts of graphics and interfaces yourself, you’re time and money is much better spent on using graphics that were created professionally.

Many of the all-in-one remotes on the market come with their own sets of graphics. They range from pretty to completely ugly. Often times they are just unusable. This is when it helps to go with a company that has pre-configured sets of graphics for specific remotes. One such company is GuiFx. They have a range of graphics for remotes from AMX, Crestron, RTI, and more. It makes sense to leave the difficult and expensive work of designing these interfaces to the professionals. Otherwise you could end up with a custom interface that costs you a fortune, but is difficult to use and just plain ugly.

Implementing the Control System

Whether you are going with a full blown home automation system or just a basic theater, the method of control used to operate your system is of the utmost importance. Most A/V dealers understand this since if something is difficult to you use, you are likely to get constant service calls from your clients. It behooves you to find a control and an interface design that consistently works. One press operation is key. If a client has to push multiple buttons just to get their system to turn on this is a recipe for complete frustration.

You should NEVER have to leave a set of instructions on how to use a system. When someone picks up a remote there should be a set of choices for what they want to watch. That’s it. When they’re done there should be a ‘System Off’ button that handles the entire shutdown operation.  Good interface design makes this process totally intuitive.

This Policy in Action

Innovative Sight & Sound is a home theater installation and technology integrator in the Tampa, FL area. They are the perfect example of a company that has been through this entire process. They originally attempted to create graphics in-house, but eventually decided it made more sense to outsource this side of their business.

Since then their installations have gone much more smoothly.  The attribute the ease of controlling their systems to their high levels of customer satisfaction. And when you’re installing systems that range upwards of $500k having happy clients is key. Most systems require no more than a basic walk-through with the client to acquaint them with the operation of everything in their home. This is how it should be done.  You can see many of their projects on their website and on the Innovative Sight & Sound Facebook page.

Innovative Sight & Sound
5060 Coosaw Creek Blvd
North Charleston, SC 29420
(843) 737-6145

Home Automation Integrator In Alpharetta Adds A New Twist

15 Jun

A control4 home automation system installed in Alpharetta

Atlanta has one of the hottest housing markets in the country.  For the last few years there has been a substantial increase in the number of high end homes built in various parts of the city. The areas of Buckhead, Roswell, and Alpharetta have seen some of the most significant growth.  One integrator has come up with clever ways of keeping up with this rapid increase in the number of houses being built.

Multi Unit Housing

While many custom integrators focus on higher end systems for single homes, there is a large market in MDU or multi-dwelling units such as condo’s, high rises, and apartment complexes.  This is where Acoustic Innovations of Alpharetta, GA has focused their efforts in the last few years.

While the systems don’t tend to be as large on an individual unit basis, once the owners move in and decide what technology they want to include it can quickly add up.

These systems will often include automation, whole house audio, media rooms, and even security systems.  A complete system can run upwards of $10k.  Multiply this across a few units and you’re looking at a substantial amount of revenue.  But the real beauty is in the simplicity of the systems.

Control4 for Simple Home Automation

The home automation system of choice for Acoustic Innovations in Control4 (http://www.control4.com).  These systems are simple to design, quick to install, and homeowners love them.  Even a more complicated system can be installed and programmed in less than a day.  The equipment is typically located in a central location that is predetermined during the construction phase of the project.

On top of that, there is very little in the way of ongoing service and maintenance.  Once the system is installed, the work is essentially done.  Since the systems are so easy the homeowners love them.

Sonos for Multi Room Audio

Since coming on the home audio scene, Sonos has made a huge impact.  They whole house audio systems are simple to use and require very little time to set up.  Just like Control4 they also require very little in the way of maintenance.  You essentially get the homeowner setup with their favorite music sources and they’re set.

Even adding additional rooms later is simple.  They’re home theater package allows for a room with no wiring to be turned into a 5.1 surround system in just a couple of hours.  This involves using their soundbar, subwoofer, and two small satellite speakers.  Gone are the days of having to pre-wire a home for surround sound.

Equipment Racks for Larger Installations

In many of the larger MDU projects there is a common area for entertainment purposes.  Here you’ll usually find a high performance theater system.  Rather than storing all of this equipment in a closet somewhere, many complexes opt for a custom equipment rack.  These are machined from aluminum and are custom cut for each specific piece of equipment.  They help to mitigate issues with heat and airflow.

The panels are laser cut in a way that even the best plasma cutter cannot achieve.  This creates a chimney effect driving all of the hot air out the top of the rack and extending the life of the equipment.  Fans can also be incorporated for racks with especially hot equipment.

While these types of projects typically require longer planning and a different sales approach, they can be particularly profitable when executed properly.

Acoustic Innovations
380 Winkler Dr Ste 100
Alpharetta, GA 30004
(678) 648-5235

Control Your Home From Anywhere in the World

24 Jan

ipad interface for Control4

Yes, it’s true. You can control various parts of your home right from you iPad. All you need is the Control4 My Home for iPad app. The best part? The app is completely free! This is yet another reason to get that cool iPad you’ve been dying for. With an iPad, the Control4 My Home app and this article, you are well on your way to controlling your house.

The Basic Setup

The first thing you need to do is find an approved dealer to install the ControlFX system in your home. Once this is done, just load the app onto your iPad and you are ready to begin. The size of the app is a mere 6.9 MB, very little when you consider what it can do. The app itself, in keeping with Apple products, is very user-friendly.

On your startup screen, you’ll see icons for Watch, Listen, Lights, Comfort, Security and More. We’ll start with something simple: Lights. Click on this icon and you will see all areas of the home with a dimmer switch. Just start testing each system.

My personal favorite is the Listen icon. This section ties in with everyone’s favorite app: iTunes. You can create a queue of music to be played from any number of your lists. If you have a home stereo system, you can even select the room in which you want it to be played. Or have a party and play the music in the whole house!

Whole House Audio Video Control

How many televisions do you have in your house? Well, you can control all of them from your iPad. It’s even great for playing jokes! Are you in the kitchen, you’ve called your kids for dinner but they can’t seem to unglue themselves from the television? It’s as easy as 1-2-3! From the palm of your hand, you can just turn off the television in the living room from the kitchen. You’re kids might be upset but at least their dinner won’t get cold!

Climate and Security Control

The temperature icon is best in the winter when it’s just too cold to get out of bed. With just the touch of your hand on the iPad, you can turn on the heating and wait for the house to warm up before you get up. No more running out of bed to turn on the heating and then running back to bed. Once you’ve tried this, you won’t be able to live without it.

The security icon is the one that allows you to control your home security system. There are also plenty of other controls and benefits including, but not limited to, controlling various aspects of the whole house or only part of the house, controls while you’re away (a great security feature) and so many more that I will let you discover yourself. Discovering everything this app can do is half the fun!

So, if you are just looking for an excuse to buy an iPad or you already have an iPad and you want it to perform more tricks, this is the app for you.

Control4’s New Integrated Lighting Control System

30 Dec

control4 lighting keypadsOne of the hallmark’s of any home automation system is automated lighting control.  When Control4 first came to market with all of their products they utilized keypads that could replace light switches as their only method of lighting.  While the system worked remarkably well, it didn’t solve one of the biggest challenges of a lighting system:  getting rid of all the large banks of switches in rooms with a large number of lights.  They have now address that problem with their new product line.

How A Lighting System Works

When you swap out a traditional lighting system with an automated lighting system there is a lot that has to happen.  In a traditional system all the wiring runs from the main breakers to the light switch, and from there to the lights that switch controls.

In an automated system there is an additional step.  From the breakers the wiring runs to a lighting module.  These modules vary based on what types of lighting they control, but they generally can control anywhere from 4 to 8 lighting circuits.  Let’s look at an example.

In a typical living room you might have 5 light switches. One controls the cans, one for the scones, one for an accent light above the fireplace, one for some cove lighting, and one for some lamps.  Each of these switches lives in a bank of switches with which we are all familiar.

With an automated lighting system these five switches disappear, replaced with one low voltage keypad and a lighting module.  The keypad resides on the wall in the place of the switches.  The lighting module lives in a central location close to the breakers, usually in a utility room or closet.

When someone presses a switch on the keypad a signal is relayed to the lighting module telling it which lights to turn on and to what level.  This allows each lighting circuit to be controlled individually.  A typical “ON” button might turn the cans on to 75%, the scones to 65%, and the other lights on to 50%.

Lighting Scenes

These pre-programmed buttons are called scenes.  Each keypad has multiple buttons on it, so you can have multiple scenes per room.  This allows you to have one standard on/off scene plus one for entertaining, night time, or whatever you like.

One of the biggest benefits of a lighting control systems is that you can control all the lights on the system from any keypad.  So if you’re ready to go to bed and want to turn out all of the lights you simply press the “House Off” button on the keypad in your bedroom.

The same would go for turning everything off.  A keypad by the entry door might have a “Home” button on it that allows you to turn on the main rooms of the house.

In terms of convenience it is difficult to beat a lighting system.  But they also have some additional benefits.

Energy Savings

You can further automate these systems to save even more on energy.  Occupancy sensors can be installed in rooms.  These monitor whether or not they are in use and adjust the lighting accordingly.  A lighting system can also monitor the amount of ambient light in a room and lower the lighting to create a consistent amount of light.

The new Control4 lighting allows you to do all of this and more and is a great addition to their line of products.

This video from Control4 gives you an idea of how the system operates.