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Future iOS Apps Might Kill Your Ability to Screenshot

Future iOS Apps Might Kill Your Ability to Screenshot Credit: MacWorld
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The developers of a secure messaging app are adding a unique feature to their platform — and they want to release the feature as an option for other iOS apps, as well. The feature is called ScreenShield, and it could make an iOS app screenshot-proof.

In other words, an app can stop users from taking a screenshot, recording a screen video in iOS 11, or even mirroring a device’s screen from within the app. It also blurs an app’s contents in the App Switcher.

ScreenShield is being developed by the team behind Confide, a secure and private messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption and expiring messages to protect user privacy. Confide has long barred users from taking screenshots in its Mac, PC and Android apps, but until now, hasn’t been able to do the same for its iOS version due to “technical” infeasibility, as the developers put it.

Previously, Confide tried to combat screenshots in iOS by only allowing pictures of one message line to be taken at any time. Now, it seems, the developers have invented more robust protections.

And while Confide originally created the feature for its own iOS platform, in a press release, they said they’re releasing the feature (which uses “patent-pending technology”) as an SDK called ScreenShieldKit for other developers to use in their own iOS apps.

“We envision ScreenShieldKit being used in apps that utilize secure messaging, secure file sharing, virtual data rooms, and DRM or watermarking,” the team wrote. “But we’re also excited to see completely new and innovative apps being created now that screenshot-proof technology exists for iOS app developers.”

Unlike Android, there’s currently no API in IOS that allows developers to implement an actual screenshot-prevention mechanism in their apps. To get around that, ScreenShieldKit uses a feature that simply “whites out” the screen by taking a screenshot of a blank message screen with no data on it.

Confide claims that they are the first to come up with a screenshot-prevention mechanism for iOS. While their feature uses what they call a “collection of technologies,” the Confide team only used public APIs for ScreenShield. Additionally, the developers state that it’s a seamless end user experience with no gimmicks or extra hassle involved.

Apple’s iOS does have a screenshot-barring feature for applications that stream videos from a server, such as Netflix, iTunes or Hulu. But apps that don’t stream video content, like Confide, apparently aren’t able to use it.

The team does note that ScreenShield only works when both the sender and recipient of a private message are using a “recent” version of the app. Similarly, just because Confide can prevent users from taking a screenshot from within the app, there’s nothing stopping people from taking a picture of the iPhone’s screen with a secondary smartphone or camera.

ScreenShield is available in the latest version of the Confide app, available here.

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