I'm looking for an Android app that allows the user to discreetly record audio and video whilst simultaneously uploading to the internet. The app must also be easy to launch from a pocket, or, if it's impossible to bypass the lock screen, then at the very least, recording should involve a single button press. This could be uploaded either as a live stream (which is accessible later), or perhaps uploaded in 10-second chunks to somewhere like Google Drive or Dropbox. At the least, it would upload once the recording was stopped, but I'm sure there must be a way of doing this live.

I'm thinking of extreme situations in which people need to secure themselves from criminals/the police with documentary evidence, even in the event that the perpetrator attempts to steal their phone or destroy the recording.

In 2015 there was some hype around an app called 'Hands Up 4 Justice', which was supposed to automatically upload recorded footage to Dropbox. It appears from the reviews though that it never really made it past the idea stage, and that it didn't upload footage as advertised. For the most part, it seems that this app simply doesn't work. One neat feature of Hands Up 4 Justice is that the screen goes black during a recording, allowing people to place their phone face up on their dashboard and record through the front facing camera discreetly.

Given that this app never really worked as advertised, I'm wondering if alternatives are available. I don't mind paying for the service. Beyond an initial test, I would hope never to have to use it. But for some people in dangerous situations around the world, being able to use such an app and (truthfully) claim that a perpetrator's actions are being irreversibly recorded as evidence could diffuse a situation. In addition, being able to discreetly launch a recording using hardware buttons from the user's pocket (even though the video would be black in this case) could provide crucial evidence in some situations.

Another app I've tried is 'Upload Cam'. However, this only uploads after recording is complete, it can't be launched discreetly, and it makes a loud noise when starting a recording which can't be turned off.

Yes, there are ethical issues with regards to recording discreetly. And yes, uploading via 3G is costly and slow. I would expect video quality to be adjusted depending on the available bandwidth. And I know that not every Android device will allow you to launch programs using hardware buttons without unlocking. But for those devices that can, an app like this could save lives.

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of any app meeting all your criteria. There are a variety of "secret video" apps that purport to offer discreet recording, such as Secret Video Recorder HD, but you would probably have to try them to see if they are discreet enough for your needs.

The most difficult criteria you mention is live upload. Video takes up a lot of bandwidth and even ordinary streaming apps don't always work seamlessly. I'm skeptical that any solution would really be reliable in the extreme case of someone immediately grabbing your phone and deliberately smashing it. Also, someone has to be willing to host the video. Simply streaming it directly to a public site like YouTube might not be a good idea in the kinds of situations you mentioned (because, e.g., the video might contain disturbing violence, or violate the privacy of victims). It's tough to find someone willing to open up a server to let anyone upload potentially large and often traumatic videos whenever they want.

Possibly the closest in spirit to the kind of app you describe are the Mobile Justice apps offered by the American Civil Liberties Union. There are 19 different apps for different US states, although it appears the apps will still work even if you use them outside the state for which they were designed. These apps don't really meet your criteria in terms of the discreetness of the recording process itself, and they don't upload the video until it's complete. They're worth mentioning, though, because they are specifically designed to let people document police misconduct, and as such the video is actually sent to the ACLU if it is completed. They do have a "lock screen on recording" feature that attempts to make it a bit harder for someone to stop or delete the recording even if they grab the phone, but it can't stop them from destroying the phone.

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