Apple Kills Photo-Hiding ‘Calculator’ App Amid Police Investigation
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Apple has removed the popular app, Calculator%, from its iOS App Store, just days after officials with the Durham, United Kingdom Police Department issued a warning that parents should be vigilant about apps just like it, Business Insider reports.
Calculator% — which was wildly popular among teenagers — appeared as if it were a legitimate, full-featured calculator app for iPhone and iPad.
While it didn’t allow users to actually carry out mathematical calculations, the app was designed to allow hiding of sensitive photos and videos behind a passcode-protected “firewall” that only the user would have had access to.
“The Calculator% app [was] marketed on the App Store with pictures of women in bikinis, hardly disguising its purpose to hide photos that are perhaps intimate in nature,” Business Insider reports.
Though it’s no longer available, users who previously downloaded the app would be asked to “input a secret code into the calculator,” which would allegedly open “a secret vault of images and video concealed to anyone without access.”
The app’s developers, Digital Mind Co., created a range of similar apps just like Calculator% for iOS and Android devices. Just like Calculator% was removed from the app store, so too were the developer’s other apps.
“Apple appears to have removed imitations as well, such as Calculator App Lock and Piano Pass, which asks users to play a secret tune to unlock their images,” according to Business Insider.
“Some imitations are still on Android, however, including Calculator+ and Calculator Vault.”
A Game-Changing Investigation
The Calculator% app was first thrust into the public eye back in 2015, according to a BuzzFeed News report which cites allegations made by Pamela Casey — an Alabama District Attorney — who published a viral video on her Facebook page in which she warned parents about the dangers of the app.
More recently, an undisclosed investigation conducted by the Durham, U.K. police department ultimately led to Apple removing the app once and for all. Though details of the investigation remain scant, the department offered the following statement to Business Insider following the app’s removal:
“The Calculator app is essentially a secret photo album that children can use to hide photos or videos from their parents. The photos are hidden from view behind an icon that looks like a calculator. We would urge parents to be vigilant and discourage their children from using such an app.”