Hey, Creeps: Here’s How to Use Your Phone and Smartwatch as a Spycam

Daniel Bean
Editorial Assistant
August 13, 2014
Smartwatch and phone showing an image of the author taking a picture
Smartwatch and phone showing an image of the author taking a picture

(Daniel Bean/Yahoo Tech)

We won’t ask what you may plan to do with this information: But, yes, with a smartwatch running Android Wear, Google’s new operating system for wristwatches, paired with any compatible Android smartphone, you can create your very own remote, short-range spy camera.

The setup requires that you download an app called Wear Camera Remote (a cleverly covert name for such a nefarious piece of software) to your smartwatch. Once downloaded, the app will appear on your watch and can be launched via the voice command “Start camera.”

(Since this is hypothetically a spycam, you can also launch it without talking out loud to your watch. Just slide up from the Speak now screen. At the bottom of the list that appears, you’ll find the Start menu where all your watch apps can be launched.)

We don’t recommend actually spying on your boss. This was just a “test.” (Daniel Bean/Yahoo Tech)

After firing it up, you’ll find the operation of the app to be pretty simple. On your watch, you’ll get a live view of what your phone’s camera is seeing, and everything works even if your phone’s screen isn’t turned on. To snap a pic (which will be saved to your phone’s gallery), just touch your watch’s screen.

You can also slide to the left on the watch app to see options for switching between your phone’s front and rear cameras, turning the flash on and off, and access to a self-timer function.

Boom. Spycam.

(To be clear, we at Yahoo Tech do not condone the illegal surveilling of others without their permission … but we did find putting your phone in your shirt pocket and walking around while secretly snapping pics with your watch to be a fascinating exhibit of what an Android Wear watch is capable of doing.)

Smartphone camera protruding from shirt pocket
Smartphone camera protruding from shirt pocket

Keeping an eye on the streets. (Daniel Bean/Yahoo Tech)

Of course, Wear Camera Remote can also be used to do boring things like, per the free app’s description on the Play store, “take better selfies, group shots, watch a live stream of your kitchen pot, cat, or anything else as long as you have Bluetooth range.”

Either way, add “hacked-together spy camera system” functionality to the number of tricks we’ve already seen developers bring to Android Wear. That list now includes run tracking, paying for coffee, ordering a car service, and Web browsing (albeit poorly).

You smartwatch holdouts still not on board? That may be fine for a little while longer, but you can be sure that we’ll be watching you.

Have questions, comments, or just want to tell me something funny? Email me at danbean@yahoo-inc.com.