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CellSpy Review – Photos, Videos and Sounds

testing remote video access again cellspy

Today I am testing features of CellSpy again, as my daughter is at a relative's house with high-speed internet.  Remote Video Recording, Remote Audio Recording and Reviewing how photos are uploaded from the phone are all on my list for today's activities.

After writing 70% of this post, I discovered the instructions for CellSpy:


REMOTE VIDEO RECORDING:  I decided to try taking videos remotely from the target phone using the scheduling feature.  My first experiment gave me a 1 second video each time I tried.  I wanted to make sure that I didn't make any settings incorrect that time.

testing remote video access again cellspy


With "Interval Minutes", I am instructing CellSpy (I think) to record every five minutes.  WIth "Duration Seconds" I am telling CellSpy to record 300 seconds or five minutes each video.  I sent that remote command at 6:25pm, and it was accepted about 6:30pm.  (But I am not sure of the settings).

The first video appeared on the panel at about 6:35pm, and consisted of another 1 second video showing nothing.  By 6:57pm, NO other videos were uploaded to the control panel.  Since I wanted to try another feature, I decided to cancel this command.  I sent the "stop" command at 6:57pm.  Accepted by 7:03pm.

I decided to reverse my instructions and see if any change in recording length occurred.  I sent Interval time of 5 minutes and Duration of 1200 seconds (20 minutes).  I'm hoping for 4-five minute recordings if this setting works.  Nothing worked, but I think the target phone was in use on a phone conversation and I THINK that prevents video recording.  I will try again later.


You must set an Interval (in mins) which will determine how often video will be captured and a Recording Time (in Secs) which will set how long the video will be.


SURROUNDING NOISE / AMBIENT ROOM BUG RECORDING:  I wanted to try ambient room noise ("Room bug") again using the scheduling feature.  Actually, it is not a scheduling feature as you can not assign start times and ending times.  This feature is merely a helper so that you can set it and forget it for a period of time.  

I sent the command as follows at 7:04pm and it was accepted by 7:08pm:

cellspy ambient noise room bug


This time, I THOUGHT I was telling CellSpy to record five minutes (300 seconds) of audio, and to wait one minute (Interval minutes set to 1?) between recordings before doing it again.  Settings are confusing and there are no instructions that I could find explaining these settings.  So I can only assume I am sending the correct settings.

In my initial test, ambient room noise (or room bug) worked well, so I am interested to see if the SCHEDULED recording function works.

After a few minutes, I had four ONE MINUTE recordings.  So I sent the stop command, and decided to change the way I was sending commands.  I was trying to get FIVE Minutes per recording, but was only getting ONE minute.  Maybe I have the commands backwards.

When I reviewed the audio, I discovered that if a call is made (or received), the recording continues and gets both sides of the call … but CALL RECORD doesn't get this recording.  In other words, it only saves it in one place, and ambient recording seems to take control.  [It doesn’t seem to work like that with video — if a call is made/received, it doesn’t appear that video tries to record.]

I waited until the STOP command was received, and then sent new commands.  I set the interval to 5 and the duration for 14,400 seconds.  The goal was five minute recordings, for the next 4 hours.  I sent this command at 7:55, but was not accepted until 8:01pm.  In theory, there should be a recording by 8:05pm.  

2nd audio attempt ambient noise room bug schedule



You must set an Interval (in mins) which will determine how often audio will be recorded and a Recording Time (in Secs) which will set how long the recording will be.  Remember that the Interval value is in minutes and the Recording Time value is in seconds. Setting the Interval as 60 and the Recording Time at 120 will capture two minutes of audio every hour. The use of the microphone by another application or by user (e.g. if on a call) will prevent CellSpy from capturing audio at that time.

The truth is — I'm still confused.  I now now that the "duration" doesn't mean STOP after so many minutes.  It continues to record until YOU manually send a STOP command.  Even though it contually record five minute audio files (which is what I wanted), I am not sure about what setting to use.  I will try setting "5 minutes" as the interval and "300 seconds" as the duration — and hopefully it will record five minutes of audio every 5 minutes???

I found an uploaded file at about 8:15pm.  And surprisingly, it was almost five minutes long (average 4 minutes and 54 seconds each time)!  In the control panel, the file was shown this way: 

audio attempt first file room bug


I may have posted too fast about not showing the length of the file.  Look at the "Phone File Time" and the "Server Time".  If you compare the two, you get almost five minutes, which was the length of the audio file.  I didn't realize it before because the file time/dates weren't accurate.  Now they are.

If the above continues, it will prove to me that I had the settings wrong!  I misunderstood the two settings "Interval" and "Duration".  It will record for the next four hours (supposedly, according to my settings) and I will check it tomorrow.

ANOTHER THING I HATE!  When you try to delete the oldest noise recordings (for example, I am on page 11 deleting the oldest), as soon as I say "ok" to delete the recording, it brings me back to page 1!  I have to click the last page each time!  CellSpy needs "checkboxes" so you can delete multiple files at once.  I have to delete one at a time – and there are more than 82 files in my control panel!

Wow, I was wrong!  If you click on the row and highlight the row, you can continue to click on many rows per page and press the delete key!  I don't mind being wrong when they have the features!  I just didn't know how to use them yet!  And yes, there is a "check all" button to choose all images on the page to make it simple.  I was the one making it difficult!!  

In fact, I feel stupid writing this – it would look better on me if I delete this and ignore my error, but I want this to be real.  There is a big "check all" and "delete" key at the top of the page that I didn't pay attention to.  Duh.  But I want to report my experience as it REALLY happens – even if I look bad.

That is what testing these apps is all about — and why there is NO WAY to test an app in 24-48 hours.  Testing requires REAL TIME – REAL LIFE use to see how all the little things work!  Like multiple item deletions!

One nice feature is the ability to edit the file name on the server, as a reminder of what it has, so you don't delete it or whatever.  Accessed by clicking on the "pencil" next to the file name.

edit the file name


The files can't be read directly by "Audacity", which is the editor I like to use.  To read more about Audacity and how I use it to review files, read my post here on Using Audacity to Review Ambient Noise Files.  But before getting them into Audacity, they must be converted to WAV files (using Any Audio Converter).  This sounds like a  lot of (slow) work — but it isn't.

audacity can't read audio files


The following evening, January 9, 2016, I tried sending the command to start recording at 5 minute intervals with a duration of 300 seconds.  Nothing happened.  I don't think the phone was in use, but impossible to tell.

Later I decided that I wanted to try larger files (fewer files to work with).  I changed the command to 30 minute interval and an 1800 second (30 minute) recording.  Photos and GPS locations are being uploaded to the control panel, but so far, no recordings have been uploaded.  I don't know what is happening because I can't tell why nothing is being recorded.  

One Hour later, NO audio files uploaded.  I sent a stop command and waited for it to be accepted, then sent another start recording command, with the settings of 15-minute interval and 900-second recordings.  

TWO HOURS LATER, still NO audio files uploaded.  What a disappointment.

Yes, the phone is connected to the internet – it continues to upload photos.  No call recordings are being uploaded and no call log entries have been added for hours, so I know the phone isn't in use.  Ambient Noise Recording isn't working.

With nothing to lose, I decided to try and reboot the phone.  I sent the command and waited.  Just in case, I also sent a recording stop command.  When the commands were accepted, I sent another start recording command, based on 10 minute files to see if that made any difference.

THREE HOURS LATER, and no audio files uploaded.  For a spy app that generated a lot of excitement, CellSpy is falling short.  I sent a stop recording command.

It is my bedtime — so I decided to send the same command that worked last night, as a test (5 minutes and 14,400 seconds!).  I doubt the results will be any different.  I sent the command and checked my email and took one last view at the control panel.  UNBELIEVABLE.  Three five-minute audio files had already been downloaded to the control panel.  

I have to ask support about this situation because it doesn't make sense.



UPLOADED PHOTOS FROM PHONE:  The dashboard is still showing 1-5 photos being uploaded every 15 minutes!  The monitoring of photos in CellSpy is not impressive.  For one thing, I will be a very old man before all of the target phone's photos are uploaded to the control panel.

But more importantly, the upload process is a mess!  CellSpy changes the dates on the files!  I can see by the original file name that the image was taken in late December (at my house by the way), and it is uploading with a date of today.  

In the below screenshot, the photo was taken with b612 camera, on 12-27-2015.  But the file time in CellSpy is Jan 08, 2016!  I was there when the picture was taken — back on December 27, 2015!

cellspy issue with photos dates

So the pictures that were really taken today are MIXED in with the old pictures.  I had to look through five pages of pictures to find the ones she took today.  This is terrible.

Here is the data from a picture taken today.  Taken with B612, on January 08, 2016.  File date is the same.  

pic taken today cellspy


The photos should upload and display the actual date of the file.  They should be sorted in the control panel by the date of the file!  When I click on MEDIA -> PHOTOS, I want to see the MOST RECENT PHOTOS on the first page — but that is not what happens with CellSpy.

Last night, CellSpy received more than 200 more photos from the phone.  In the control panel, they are mixed — not sorted or displayed by date!  I had to look at 35 pages to locate photos that I had not seen before.  I will need to begin deleting photos from the control panel to make it easier to work with.

The more I play with CellSpy, the more I realize that you must adopt "tricks" to make this monitoring work for you.  For example, after a group of photos are uploaded, and you have reviewed them, DELETE them, if you have no concerns.  Then it will be easier to monitor the new photos being uploaded to the control panel.   

In my situation, my daughter had 400 selfies being uploaded, and I was there when she took them.  That means, there is no reason why I should not delete them immediately and get them out of my sight.  The point in monitoring photos is to CATCH INDISCRETIONS and *NOT* be a backup for the photos on the target phone.  The photos uploaded are substantially smaller and are not designed to provide anything but the chance for you to see the photo.

The reason the quality and photo size is so small is to not take up so much bandwidth while uploading.  But that comes at a cost, because some screenshots my daugher took were completely unreadable.  The quality of some of the pictures is terrible.  

cellspy issue with photos cant read text


I couldn't understand how it looked like the same pictures were being uploaded over and over!  So I wrote file names down and confirmed that on Jan 10, 2016, the SAME photos are being uploaded to the control panel multiple times!  That is why so many pictures are being uploaded.  I confirmed by file name!

PROOF!  Here is the file I listed in this post

cellspy issue with photos dates

Then on January 10, 2016, here is the exact same file again!  You can see it is the exact same file name (and the picture is the same), with the file name showing when it was created.  Then the "file time" is when it was uploaded to the server!  Two different file times two days apart of this same picture!

cellspy uploads same pictures to the control panel


And it won't stop.  Proof again that it keeps uploading the same photos.

files uploading over and over3


photos won't stop uploading duplicate


cellspy stuck uploading the same photos over and over

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