Facebook-owned Onavo quietly launches Bolt App Lock, a data-tracking app that locks other apps


Onavo, the data-security app maker Fb acquired in 2013 so as achieve insights into cellular person exercise throughout apps, has quietly launched a brand new app aimed toward Android customers known as Bolt App Lock. As an alternative of providing a VPN, Bolt App Lock is a device that allows you to lock down any app you don’t need others to have the ability to open, utilizing a PIN code, sample, or your fingerprint.

Apps that assist customers lock different apps is a well-liked class on Android, the place you possibly can as we speak discover dozens of comparable options – although largely from unknown corporations save for a couple of, like Keepsafe or Norton, for instance. Just like the others on this area, the Bolt app allows you to lock down different apps that include private data, corresponding to non-public images or fee particulars.

With the sources of Fb behind it, Onavo seems to have constructed a extra polished, fashionable various to the prevailing apps.

However Onavo – and Fb’s – main curiosity isn’t on private safety. It’s about discovering a means on customers’ telephones so as to monitor cellular exercise and study what new apps may very well be taking consideration away from Fb’s social community.

That is disclosed on the backside of the app’s itemizing on Google Play, which explains that, as a Fb firm, Onavo will “gather data about your cellular machine and the apps put in on it” and share that with Fb.

Above: Bolt App Lock’s disclosure relating to knowledge assortment

Information on cellular app utilization has helped Fb higher compete with rivals like Snapchat – like when it noticed how Instagram’s launch of a Tales-like function was working to decelerate Snapchat’s person progress, for example. It additionally doubtless helped to tell Fb’s newer acquisition of the buzzy teen praise app tbh, which quickly led to a brand new Fb Q&A function, impressed by tbh.

To draw customers to its Onavo VPN, Fb not too long ago started promoting the app straight inside Fb’s principal navigation on iOS, below the menu merchandise “Shield.” When clicked, the hyperlink would take you to the obtain web page for Onavo Shield on the App Retailer. The corporate has additionally featured an analogous “Shield” hyperlink in its Fb app for Android previously. (We’re not at the moment seeing the choice on Android, however your mileage could fluctuate as Fb’s apps are regularly being tweaked and up to date.)

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However so as to achieve these types of insights, Fb wants a person base keen to put in Onavo’s app. Which may be harder to attain today, although.

After TechCrunch broke the information of Onavo’s look on iOS, plenty of shops straight warned customers to not set up the app. (See, for instance: Gizmodo’s “Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Obtain Onavo, Fb’s Vampiric VPN Service” or Wired’s “Don’t belief the VPN Fb needs you to make use of.”)  

Till the backlash over Onavo Shield dies down, a brand new app like Bolt App Lock may give Fb a special technique of increasing Onavo’s person base, and due to this fact, Fb’s entry to cellular person knowledge.

Bolt App Lock launched on March 5, 2018, in response to knowledge from Sensor Tower. It’s not but exhibiting on the Onavo homepage as one of many firm’s merchandise. The app is a free obtain on Google Play.

The app additionally hasn’t made an look in Fb’s app, the best way Onavo Shield did – not less than not as of but. We requested Fb if that’s the eventual plan, however haven’t heard again.

Replace, three/9/2018 four PM ET: A Fb spokesperson says this was a “small, temporary take a look at.”

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