Smartphones are now more popular than ever, and most people can't imagine their lives without one. While private investigators do not necessarily need a smartphone, having one makes my life so much easier. Before the invention of smartphones, most information needed to be obtained from a desktop computer at the office, directions had to be printed off from MapQuest, and cell phones were used only for making or receiving calls. Now, with the tap of a finger, I can obtain a vast array of useful information to assist me with investigating cases, while driving across the country, during stakeouts and surveillance, and so much more. I thought it might be helpful to learn about the app I use as a PI, so here they are! I hope you find them as useful and helpful as I do.
Vault provides a high level of security for confidential photos and videos that I capture with my phone. These include photos of documents, receipts, surveillance videos, and so on. The app is locked by either entering in a personal digital password or a touch ID. Vault works by encrypting and storing files on my SD card, rather than appearing in my phone's photo album. If someone tries to access the app without my authorization, the app automatically captures the photo of the person at that moment in time. I find Vault extremely useful because many of my photos and videos require high client confidentiality; and because this app is so secure, I rely on it regularly.
With Evernote, not only can I take notes in a variety of formats but I can save anything I find online. The best part is that everything is synced automatically between all of my gadgets—smartphone, tablet laptop and desktop. For example, if I make changes to a note on my phone, the changes will appear on my laptop and iPad. It's like a digital notepad at my fingertips that I can access wherever and whenever I want. It also has a useful camera feature that allows me to scan, digitize, and organize all of my documents using one easy platform. I find myself relying on Evernote more and more, especially while working in the field.
As a private investigator, I frequently run background searches on people while working in the field, and I often need to do so at a moment's notice. That is where the IRBmobile app comes in. This app lets me use my phone to run searches on people while I’m on the move, therby eliminating the need for me to be tied down to my desk. It’s worth noting that not everyone can use this app. In fact, you have to apply and be accepted by IRB to get registered to use this app. Even though this app is limited to PIs, it is by far one of my favorites, and definitely worth mentioning.
I use this app all the time, more than I ever imagined. With Burner there is no need for me to have a second phone; with this app, I can create multiple temporary and disposable phone numbers to use on my smartphone. This app prevents me from having to give out my personal cell phone number, and it helps whenever I make calls to people who least expect to hear from me. A really cool feature is the app’s ability to be integrated with other apps like Evernote, Slack, Google, and Dropbox. With the touch of a button I can upload audio files, voicemails, and photos to Dropbox, forward text messages to Evernote, or just drop everything into a Google Drive folder. Burner is quickly becoming one of my favorites!
This is an app I frequently use when I need to record something quickly. It has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to record and playback audio on my smartphone (it can also be used with tablets). I prefer this one to the default app on my phone because there are more features and it's easier to use. This app also makes it incredibly easy to upload my recordings to Dropbox, Google Drive and other cloud storage.
Waze is a pretty cool app if you are constantly driving around cities and towns like I am. It is a huge community-based traffic and navigation app. It works by taking shared information from other drivers in my area and delivers this information to me via the app. Imagine the ability to get real-time road alerts like construction, traffic jams, law enforcement speed traps, and the ability find out where the cheapest gas prices are, all in real-time! The app offers live maps that are constantly updated, and it automatically reroutes me every time driving conditions change. Awesome, right?
That’s it for now! Do you have an app to recommend? Leave a message in the Comments Section if you do!