How Does Spy Apps Work On iPhone, Android, & Computer

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Directly jumping on a particular spy app and purchasing it to spy on someone’s phone doesn’t make any sense. It is really important to do some homework before spending hard-earned money on such apps. Is the person you want to spy on comfortable with it? For what reason do you want to spy? Are you sure whether spying on someone’s phone is illegal or not? Answers to all these questions should be there in your mind.

Once you’re sure that you want to buy a spy app, the next thing that you need to do is get a basic idea of how spyware works. It’s really important to do so. The reason is that there’s simply no point in buying an app unless we know how to use it. So here in this article, I will help you understand what does spyware do and how does spy apps work?

Before we move on to the working of spy apps let’s have a look at what is spyware & what does it do?

Table Of Contents

What Is Spyware?

Spyware is a malicious program that takes control over your iPhone, Android, or computer and gives another person a chance to look into your device without your permission. These programs are hidden on your device and work in the background so the victim never knows that someone is monitoring all their activities remotely.

What Does A Spyware Do?

Lots of people ask this question, what can spyware do to my computer? Well, be it your computer or smartphone once spyware is installed on your device it can track everything you do. It can steal all your personal information and you wouldn’t even know. Different spyware has different features, most of them have a keylogger that records all the words you have typed on your device. Some of them even record your phone calls remotely which the other person can listen to from their device.

Some high-end spy software like FlexiSPY and uMobix even allow someone to remotely hack your phone’s camera and capture photos and videos from it without your consent. Depending on how you use spy apps, they can prove to be harmful or useful.

How Do Cell Phone Spy Apps Work?

Note: All the screenshots used in this article are from the FamiSafe parental control app.

Basic Setup

Firstly, you need to buy the service from the spy app’s official website. After that, you need to install spyware on the target phone, it could be your kids, spouse, or employee’s phone in case you are looking to spy on your workers.

Next, you need to sign up normally as you do for the other apps. Now the parent’s device is all set to spy on the kid’s phone. Then, you need to set up the kid’s device.

Take your child’s device and log in using the same credentials that you used to set up your own device. If it asks whether it’s a kid device or the parents, choose the kid option. In order to spy without the occurrence of any bottleneck, you have to give various permissions to the kid device. These permissions include access to location, access to media, messages, photos, and contacts, administrator permission, notification access, etc.

The kid’s device is now all set for getting spied on. Now you just need to open the app or website on your device to see all the activities of your kids.

spy apps basic concept

Compatible Devices

Although the compatibility differs from app to app, most spy apps are compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Few spy apps also offer Windows PC and Mac monitoring.

If the spying app comes with advanced features and really works well, it will support the Android device with a 4.0 or higher version. In the case of an iOS device, a good spying app will support devices with 6.0 or higher versions.

Basic Features

1. Notification Of Suspicious Text

Most people ask this question, what can spyware do? The first thing that most spy apps do is that they let you access text messages, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram messages, and messages from other messaging apps. But that’s not it.

Whenever your kid sends or receives any text that is inappropriate for them, you get a notification about that. These words can be related to abuse, threats, and those words that give a sound of bullying. This means with the help of spyware you can know if your child is being bullied.

The messaging apps on which this feature works might differ from spy app to spy app. But some common messaging apps include WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, Twitter, etc.

suspicious text
Get notified about explicit content

2. Location Tracking

Location tracking is another thing that spyware can do. The spying apps are mostly made for kids, and it really becomes necessary to track their location when they are somewhere out. With this simple yet useful feature, parents can easily keep an eye on their kid and be sure that their child is safe.

location tracking
Track location in real-time

Some apps can even track location by just providing the phone number of the target person like GEOfinder. This means you can spy on someone’s location without installing an app on the target phone

3. Geo-Fencing

Have you instructed your kid to not go beyond a certain area but your kid never followed your instructions thinking that you won’t find it out? This is not the case when you spy on them. Geo-fencing creates imaginary fencing at the borders of the place that you don’t want your kid to cross. If your kid crosses that fence, you immediately get notified about that.

geofencing feature
Create an imaginary fence for your kid

4. Web Filtering

As a parent, your biggest concern while giving a cell phone to your kid for the first time will surely be related to the internet. But don’t worry spyware can help you block adult content on your kids’ phones.

You will be confused, about whether to give them access to the internet or not. Well, if the spying app provides you the web filtering feature then there’s certainly no problem in giving them access to the internet. The web filter will block all the sites from opening that are not appropriate for the children. In some apps, it will also alert you with a message. So, not only can you view the browser history but also block the desired sites.

web filtering
Filter content on the internet

5. Smart Scheduling

If you think that your kid is glued to the phone more than usual then it’s time to do something about that. Smart scheduling helps you set the time for which your kid will be able to use the cell phone. After that time the apps stop working or simply disappear from the screen. It is quite an effective way to restrict their screen time and avoid phone addiction.

How do phone spy apps work - smart scheduling feature
Set a schedule for your kid

Signs Of Good Spying Apps

We have seen how does spyware work, now it’s time to learn how we can differentiate which spying app is good and which ones are not. For that, there are some points that you need to keep in mind.

1. Instant Updates On Activities

The first and the most important thing that should be looked upon in a spying app is its responding speed on the kid’s activities. If your kid does something that he/she shouldn’t then it’s the duty of a spying app to notify the parents immediately. But if the app is taking time in doing so, then it’s of no use. So make sure that the app that you buy doesn’t lack in this part.

2. Ease Of Use

The spy apps are mostly used by parents to keep a check on their kids. So rather than spending much of the time understanding the app, it’s better that the app has an interface that can be understood at first glance. If things seem to look quite complicated on the app, you should avoid it and rather switch to the one with a basic structure.

interface of spying app
Spying app’s interface

3. Support Services

The duty of a good spying app doesn’t end after the sale, rather it starts after the sale. If the customers ever face any problem while using the app, the support service of the app should always be available to help them out. If the spying app lacks the support service, look for some other app.

4. Features

Other than the basic features that we mentioned above, there should be many other features provided by the apps that make your spying easy and complete. These features might include access to view all the media on the device, access to the contacts, and access to the location history. There can be many other additional features like YouTube control and app blocking etc.

5. Money-Back Guarantee

Yes, that’s true. A good spying app will offer you a money-back if you didn’t like the app or didn’t find it useful for yourself. You will get your money back in your account after a few days of returning the service. On the other side, if the spying app is not that good, it will lack the money-back offer.

Kind Of Permissions Need To Be Given For Spying Apps To Work

How spyware work depends a lot on what permissions it requires, there are various permissions that are needed to be given. If you hesitate to give certain permissions, some of the features of the spying app won’t work in the way they should. Here are some of the permissions that the spying app will ask you for.

1. Accessibility Settings

Giving this permission will allow you to block or unblock certain apps on your kid’s device remotely from your device. It can be a really useful feature at a time when you don’t want your kid to use certain apps anymore. Maybe because they’re getting addicted to it.

2. App Supervision

By giving this permission, you will allow your kid’s phone to send all the activity reports on your device. With this, you will be able to see each and everything that your kid is doing on their device. These activities might also include the time and duration for which the particular app has been used.

3. Location Access

To track the location of your kid and to know about their whereabouts, giving access to the location is a must. Only by giving this permission, it is possible to use the geofencing feature and track the location history.

contact and location tracking
Give permission to access contact and location

4. Media Accessibility

This permission will allow you to always keep an eye on the photos, videos, and other stuff that your child has on their device. If any suspicious media is sent, received, or downloaded on the device, you will get notified about that.

How does spy apps work - media access
Give access to media and gallery

5. Contacts Accessibility

With this, you will be able to keep an eye on the call log of your child. If you find any suspicious contact or if your child gets a call from an unknown number you can easily see that on your device and ask about it from your kid.

Some Popular Spy Apps

1. FamiSafe

FamiSafe is one of the most popular Android and iPhone parental control apps. Unlike other spyware, it does not hide on the target device. Its icon is visible but your child cannot uninstall the app without your permission. FamiSafe is basically used to monitor minor kids and ensure their safety online.

This amazing and popular spy app will give you almost all the features that we discussed above. FamiSafe is a product of Wondershare, so there’s no doubt that FamiSafe will be good.

famisafe app
Famisafe spy app

2. Spyzie

Spyzie is another spying app that will be a great choice. The app offers various features to track your kid’s device in a way that no other app can do. You can check our review of Spyzie to see for yourself how well this spy app works and also understand spying apps in even more detail.

spyzie app
Spyzie app interface

3. FlexiSPY

FlexiSPY provides advanced features to its users. With FlexiSPY you can intercept the call of your child and listen to the conversation. Similarly, you can open the microphone on the kid’s device and listen to what is going around. The same case is with the camera. You can access the camera of their device anytime and look at what’s going on.

Why Do We Need Spy Apps?

At the time of teenage, children can easily get influenced by the things that they either see on the internet or are told and done by their friends. They easily get carried away and that is why parents are always concerned about their children. But with the help of phone spying apps, parents are able to take care of their kids in real-time. So it’s really necessary that the parents understand the need for the spying apps and also tell their children how these apps can be useful to them. We hope now you have a basic idea of how spy apps work.


How Is Spyware Used?

To use a spyware you need to install the app on the target device and then remotely track the activites of the target person.

Can Spyware Be Detected?

Most spy apps are hidden with a fake name and their icon is hidden on the target phone or computer, hence they become undetectable.

Does Spyware Work Without Internet?

No Spyware does not work without internet.

Is Spyware Attached To A Phone Or Phone Number?

Spyware are installed on a phone they have nothing to do with the phone number.

About the Author

Ankit Prasad, an engineer driven by a passion for digital safety, founded SpyDrill to simplify cybersecurity. With a modest approach, Ankit shares insights on parental control and monitoring apps and effective protection measures. His aim is to empower users with practical knowledge, bridging the gap between technology and everyday understanding. An advocate for digital literacy, Ankit's commitment to demystifying cyber threats underscores his dedication to creating a safer online environment for all.

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