Android Incognito mode

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  • Updated 4 years ago
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Since CE can't track the Android browser when it is in incognito mode, is there a way to deactivate that mode? This is a big hole. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!
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Gabe

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Posted 6 years ago

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Patrick Smith, Alum

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Gabe,
We're working on a long-term solution here, but presently you're right--it is a hole. The architecture of the Android OS renders it impossible. I wish I had better immediate news for you. I am sorry. Please keep your ear to the ground for some developments in the relatively near future, though.
Patrick Smith
Product Owner with Covenant Eyes
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profile-202208

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I thoroughly disagree that android architecture prohibits this. Last pass practically does the same thing-- inspects the current URL and then takes an action based on that data.

It does so by becoming an accessibilty service.
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John, Official Rep

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This largely depends on what you mean by "architecture prohibits" in this case. Not to play semantics but using the accessibility service to sniff for data is not it's intended functionality. In order to achieve this result Last Pass has most likely hacked the service. It is a creative hack sure, even one that we could probably implement ourselves (with substantial work on our back end to accommodate it) but it is important to note that Android as an OS is not at all designed to do the things that we already ask it to do.

The larger issue is that Android as a whole is not as covered as we would like it to be and our attention is focused deeply on creating a device wide solution that can encompass much more than just private browsing mode. The good news is that there has been significant progress towards this goal. The bad news is that it will require a bit more patience.

Hang tough guys, the fruit of our labor will be here as soon as possible.
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profile-202208

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How fast could you have a solution for rooted devices? just a thought to get you closer to the hardware.
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John, Official Rep

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The information I have been given indicates that our work on a device encompassing solution is progressing well. It is my understanding that most of the remaining work to be done isn't directly related to the OS, but at removing ways to circumvent and sync reported information with our system. 

Our team is already working on this as a huge priority. Unfortunately it is more than just developer code time that is required to implement something like this.  That being said, we have some cool APIs and tools available for developers and if people are interested in joining our team to help out they can always check out our careers page.

http://www.covenanteyes.com/about-covenant-eyes/careers/

Trust me, as soon as this is available it will go out. When there is beta information (as there will most likely be a public beta) I will make sure that information gets dropped back here as well.

Thanks again for sharing your passion

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Chance

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Hi John,
For what it's worth, it looks like some programs that use MDM (Mobile Device Management - I think) work through VPN and are able to log and notify whenever this VPN is turned off or the profile is disabled.
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Rick Mason

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It has been 5 months since this post, are you any closer to fixing that HUGE hole?? What about in-private web surfing in IE? Is that also not trackable/reportable?
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John, Official Rep

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I'm going to jump in and respond to this one. 

Android (as a platform) has made it exceedingly difficult to cover incognito mode as functionality. We have multiple things in development for Android that will help alleviate this problem. Believe me when I say that we are just as frustrated about this issue as you are and our team is working hard to implement effective solutions.

In the meantime it is important to differentiate devices when it comes to Incognito/In-Private browsing. 

Windows and Mac: "private" mode does not hinder our ability to record and report. 

IOS: (i-Phone, i-Pod, i-Pad) it is currently a moot point, as you must use our browser anyways.

Android: is where "private" browsing proves to be problematic. 

If you have any questions feel free to direct them back here, and we will do our best to answer them.

Thanks


(Edited)
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BT2

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I also have this problem. With some friendly customer service from CE we were able to come up with a back up plan. CE is not designed to just monitor. It's designed to get the conversation started. My boyfriend has a very clear problem and I am being OVER THE TOP understanding. We have discussed that incognito browsing is not acceptable and if it is used the automatic assumption is that he is doing something he shouldn't be doing...PERIOD. We both agree to that.

How will I know if incognito mode is used? Theoretically, I wont, he could spend hours and hours clicking away and I wouldn't see the sites, BUT the reports make it all VERY clear. If the "accountability report" shows he spent 90 minutes on Chrome then the "detailed browsing report" will show 90 minutes of Web access, right? RIGHT! Each minute spent on a website is recorded until the next click or the program times out and is turned "off" by the phone. Either way the times match up...if he's doing the right thing. If I run both reports and see major time discrepancies then I know he has blown it. I don't need to see the sites because we have already discussed appropriate behavior and agreed on not using incognito.

Yes, it is time consuming BUT our relationship is worth it and he is worth my time...even if it is spent at a computer adding up minutes. BIG HINT...download the csv file of the detailed browsing report and then create a formula for easy minute addition...add a column next to the day and time and put a 1 next to each minute (only 1 for each minute NOT for each entry-I do it for the first entry of the minute only). That is the column you will add up for total time logged in the detailed browsing report. Compare to accountability report and be happy that your person is doing great...hopefully. NOTE...if the time goes from say 8:00 and there is a gap of time to say 8:10 that does not mean 10 minutes was spent on the page. It means there is 10 minutes of no use (phone turned off timed out). If it had been on the page...each minute would register.

Thank you to CE for creating a great product. If the incognito mode challenge could be fixed it would be epic.
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Jack Commons

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I like this approach. But in my busy life and the life of my accountability partners the reality of doing all that you suggested is daunting to say the least.
However as a Suggestion:
Since CE can monitor app usage and I'm guessing data usage. Can CE highlight browser usage as suspicious when App usage and data usage does not match up with monitored usage? At the very least this workaround can help keep the accountability conversation open and serve as a temporary fix until the permanent fix can be implemented.  
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Jack Commons

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Has CE considered making its own browser that can be fully monitored? Naturally it would have to be pretty functional to be popular enough, but I know I can sacrifice functionality for accountability. 
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Luke

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I have two comments regarding this:

The first is kind of an observation followed by a question/suggestion. I was unaware that incognito mode activity in Chrome on Android wasn't tracked until earlier this week. I have an Android phone with Chrome as the stock browser, and it had never been an issue until I learned this. Some people might not have my problem, but unfortunately I don't have the self-discipline to indefinitely stop myself from exploiting a hole in the system like that once I find out about it. So my question is this: would it be possible to restrict/control forum posts such as this that basically let people know where there are holes in CE? I know the CE team needs to know about bugs like this, but for users like me, I'd rather not have the opportunity to hear about this stuff.

The second comment is a suggestion for a potential workaround for the whole incognito mode problem (which has probably been stated before due to its simplicity). With CE's new app locking feature, isn't it possible to simply lock Chrome and any newly installed apps? That way, Chrome can only be used when the person with the code is nearby/knows that you're using it (i.e. can hold you accountable). I know that not everyone wants to have that kind of restriction placed on the phone, but for some people who are really serious about getting crap out of their lives, I think it'd be worth it.
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Cheri Rentmeester

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This doesn't seem right.  I was told when I specifically asked if private and incognito were monitored also and I was told yes.  The phone is this biggest problem and now months later I find out that I have been paying for this service and he can still get at it and lie about it?  very disgruntled
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Patrick Smith, Alum

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Cheri,
I am terribly sorry if we misled you! I can't speak with absolute certainty on behalf of the customer service representative with whom you spoke, but I am confident that there was no deliberate deception. Covenant Eyes software on Windows, Mac, and iOS (when the iOS app is configured per CE's recommendations) reports on or prevents private/incognito traffic. Our Android solution presently does not.

Generally when we're asked on the phone if we cover incognito/private browsing, the customer asking the question is referring to desktop/laptop computers. It's my hope (and assumption) that when you asked one of our CSRs about incognito, they were referring to those platforms.

We are presently in the internal testing stages of a solution for incognito on Android, and I expect to see it publicly available soon.  Please know that we're working as diligently as possible to equip our members with tools that encourage accountability and trust. We're keenly aware of this gap and have devoted substantial resources to closing it.

If you are interested, I would happily take your information and make sure that you're notified as soon as there is a public beta version of our Android application that reports on incognito. Please advise as you're able.

Thank you for your comment, and again, I am very sorry.
Patrick
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Chance

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Is the timeline for a more device-encompassing iOS solution on a similar timetable as this new Android solution? 
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Cheri Rentmeester

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Yes please let me know asap. Thank you
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Bruce Thompson

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I'm sorry to plug another service here, but I have to make sure others are aware that accountable2you will monitor EVERYTHING. There is no way to get sneaky. I have it installed on all devices and it works perfectly. Not tracking incognito/private browsing is a major flaw for CE.
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Tim

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Thanks for that post Bruce..  It is a major flaw and I will switch to accountable2you soon if there's not a fix.  However, I'm really hoping that CE can get a fix since they are typically so great to work with.  
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Cheri Rentmeester

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Is accountable2 you a different program than center or is it an additional thing. I don't think I should have to pay more for something that should be working.
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John, Official Rep

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They are another company completely. We do however have a fix for incognito coming out in the next couple weeks, more information can be found here https://helpforum.covenanteyes.com/covenanteyes/topics/covenant_eyes_for_android_2_0_2_release_previ...
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Cheri Rentmeester

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Ok I did read that and I'm praying it will work... will there be an update to the app that is currently downloaded?
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Patrick Smith, Alum

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Great question, Chance. The short answer is no, they're not on the same timeline. Android will ship before iOS. We hoped to release the two solutions at nearly the same time. However, we're awaiting Apple's permission to access some of the APIs required to deliver this solution on iOS.

We're in communication with Apple on it, and have submitted the request through the approved channels. The ball is squarely in their court now--aside from regular inquiries from us as to its status. I promise we want it as badly as you! Keep asking, and we'll do our best to make sure you're apprised. Thank you!
Patrick
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Tim

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Hi Patrick.  I just want to chime in that it would be great to have a fix for this!  My accountability partner has given me a deadline to find a fix, and right now it looks like I either have to leave Android or leave CE.  I hope I don't have to do either!  Thanks for looking into this.
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John, Official Rep

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Official Response
Please Visit the new thread I created to discuss our upcoming release.

Short Version: Solved

https://helpforum.covenanteyes.com/covenanteyes/topics/covenant-eyes-3-0-for-android-beta-discussion-forum
(Edited)
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Rick Mason

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Did the release ever take place? I don't see where the incognito has been fixed for Android.
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John, Official Rep

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Yes & No

We have a beta version that does fix the issues with incognito. It can be found at...

The full version is getting close to being done, and there will be a big hurrah when we officially release it for everyone. 
(Edited)
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Michael Mueller

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Hi John,

Can we get an update with the progress of incognito mode? You last post was nine months ago, and my family is very interested in ensuring protection for this. Thank you.
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profile-202208

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Test it carefully, try downloading other browsers such as firefox, lastpass etc. It used to be easy to get around.
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Patrick Smith, Alum

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Michael, the incognito fix shipped in June. You and your family should be all set. Sorry for not updating this thread specifically. I know we updated elsewhere, but seem to have missed this thread.