Blog This little-known feature prevents people from snooping through your phone
Robert Siciliano January 28, 2019

This little-known feature prevents people from snooping through your phone

Have you ever given your phone to someone, only to find them swiping through your apps? What about your emails? Perhaps you want to block text notifications from popping up when someone else has your phone, or you want to prevent people from scrolling through your photos.

Whatever the reason, people snooping around on your phone is a common thing — but what people don’t know is that there’s a little-known feature on Android or iOS that will prevent it.

The “Guided Access” shortcut is a feature that locks people into a single app, or even freezes your phone on a single screen. Guided Access — a.k.a “Screen Pinning” on Android devices — will prevent a user from moving from one app to another. If they try, the fingerprint or passcode screen will appear. It is ideal when giving your phone to:

  • Kids
  • Parents
  • Strangers taking photos
  • Friends you don’t trust, like those who are supposed to help you navigate with Google Maps but instead start browsing your emails or posting silly pics to your Facebook

How does Guided Access work?

To stop people from snooping around your phone, first, you have to enable a shortcut.

On iOS devices, you must enable Guided Access:

  • First, open your settings. Click on General, and then Accessibility, and scroll all the way to the bottom until you see Guided Access. Turn Guided Access on, and then toggle the Accessibility Shortcut to the “on” position.

On Android devices, you must enable Screen Pinning:

  • First, open up Settings, and then scroll to Fingerprints & Security. Turn the Screen Pinning function on.

Once the setting is on, you can click the home button either two times (for Android) or three times (for iOS). The app you’re on will then be locked in place until your passcode or fingerprint is entered. This allows you to discreetly lock the device before giving it to someone else. The only way the other person would know it’s locked is if they try to snoop around.

More Guided Access features for iOS

When you use Guided Access on iOS, you will get even more features. For example, it always blocks notifications (like text messages or social media), but you can also control other things on your device, such as:

  • Locking the phone in a vertical display
  • Disabling parts of the phone’s screen
  • Setting a time limit
  • Disabling touch
  • Disabling volume control, keyboards, and other features

Disabling touch, for example, will lock the phone. This is perfect when showing a photo or video to a child…or a rude adult.

You can also use it to lock yourself into an app. For instance, if you’re studying and need to read an important paper on your device, and you don’t want to get distracted, this feature will force you to input your passcode before checking things like your Facebook page. That extra step can help cut down on the temptation to check social media instead of studying.

So if you’re sick of people snooping around your phone, or simply want to prevent your kids from messing with your email account, try out the Guided Access feature. And if you’re looking for ways to stay anonymous online and protect your privacy, make sure you download Hotspot Shield for free today.

Robert Siciliano
About Robert Siciliano

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft expert consultant to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. FInd Robert Siciliano on Google+

View all posts by Robert Siciliano
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