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deviceOwl - Frequently Asked Questions


What is "Basic Edition"?

When you first install deviceOwl, you're using Basic Edition. This allows it to recognize many popular consumer household smart devices, and tell you about their capabilities from a privacy perspective.

Some examples include Smart Smoke Detectors, Smart Motion Detectors, and Smart Speakers.

What is "Advanced Edition"?

A subscription to Advanced Edition boosts deviceOwl's knowledge, allowing it to recognize many different covert consumer surveillance devices. These devices are typically either miniaturized, and/or disguised as other objects that blend into their environment, and are intended for spying on individuals. Historically, they have been exploited for spying in places such as rental properties, hotels, home-stays, and conference rooms.

Some examples include Spy Smoke Alarms, Spy Clocks, Spy Motion Detectors, Spy Pens, and Spy USB Chargers.

What is the difference between a "Smart Device" and a "Covert Consumer Surveillance Device"?

Refer to the terminology guide for a description of a smart device, vs. a covert consumer surveillance device.

What is "Cognition Boost"?

(Advanced Edition Only)

If you're having problems identifying a device that is partially damaged, or has permanent marks or stickers that can't be removed, this feature allows you to temporarily increase the sensitivity of deviceOwl to help identify the device.

Additionally, if a device is not known by deviceOwl, this feature can help you to identify devices with a similar appearance to devices that are created by the same manufacturer. This can at least help you to identify the possible manufacturer of the device.

To activate Cognition Boost, simply tap the coffee icon in the lower left corner of the viewfinder during device checking.

Important: Using this feature increases the chances of incorrect device detections, so as always please take care to confirm all device detections.

Cognition Boost should only be used for the above purposes as a temporary way to help identify a device. For this reason, this feature is can only be temporarily enabled, and will be turned off automatically once you finish device checking.

Does deviceOwl Send Photos of Devices to "the Cloud" while Checking?

No, unless you tell it to. deviceOwl checks devices using device knowledge stored and updated on your device. This means it does not need to interactively query or use a cloud-based server to perform analysis of devices.

Photos of a device will only be submitted if you intentionally report a device sample, for example:

1) When a Device is Detected Incorrectly (false alarm), and you use the "Report" feature to submit the device sample to Entropic Labs for further analysis. This step is optional.

2) When a Device is Not Detected (false negative), and you use the "Report" feature to submit the device sample to Entropic Labs for further analysis. This step is optional.

How Do I Revoke Device Samples That I Have Submitted to Entropic Labs?

To revoke all device samples that you previously submitted to Entropic Labs, please follow these steps:

1) Tap the Information icon in the lower right corner of the main screen in deviceOwl. The About screen will be displayed.

2) Under "About", tap the first option “Version”.

3) Tap the “Copy” button which will copy your Customer Support ID to the pasteboard.

4) Send an e-mail to with the following information:

4.1) The Customer Support ID that you copied in Step 3.

4.2) The keywords "Revoke My Device Samples".

5) Upon receipt of your request, we’ll erase ALL samples that you previously submitted from your device from our servers. If you have submitted samples from other devices, please repeat steps 1-4 for each of these devices.

6) Important: Any device samples you have previously submitted from your iPhone will need to be resubmitted, if you want them to be included in Entropic Labs periodic device analysis/review.

deviceOwl Doesn't Detect a Device. Why?

There are several reasons why deviceOwl may not be able to detect a device:

1) Incorrect Device Type Selected. If you selected an incorrect "Device Type" when prompted before device checking, deviceOwl will not be able to recognize it. For instance, if you selected the option to check a "Clock Radio", but you are actually checking a "Smoke/CO Alarm", deviceOwl will not be able to see the device.

2) Insufficient Light, or Incorrect Angle. deviceOwl provides very important general, and device specific guidance that ensures the best possible device recognition. Please follow this guidance, which can be accessed by selecting the Guidance option (steps icon) on the main screen. It can also be accessed from the viewfinder during device checking, by selecting the Guidance option (steps icon) in the upper-right of the viewfinder.

3) Your deviceOwl knowledge May be Out of Date. Try exiting and re-starting deviceOwl, then wait a few seconds for it to perform a check of the current device knowledge version. A device knowledge version check is also performed when you go to check a device.

4) Checking a Covert Surveillance Device without a Subscription. The default "Basic Edition" of deviceOwl installed from the App Store enables you to check the capabilities of Household Smart Devices.

A subscription to "Advanced Edition" is required if want to check the capabilities of a Covert Consumer Surveillance Device.

5) No Knowledge of the Device. deviceOwl may not have knowledge of the device you are checking. In this case, you may be asked to submit a sample of this device for further analysis by Entropic Labs. This step is optional.

6) Subscription Cancelled. If you previously had a subscription to deviceOwl "Advanced Edition", and it was cancelled, deviceOwl will no longer be able to see Covert Consumer Surveillance Devices. Re-activate your subscription to enable checking of these devices.

I Purchased "Advanced Edition", but Can't Activate It On My Device

Most of the time, in-app purchases are activated/reactivated automatically, on devices which are signed in with your Apple ID. The most common reasons why your "Advanced Edition" subscription may not activate on a device are:

1 | Signed In Under a Different Apple ID

You may be signed in to the App Store using a different Apple ID on your device. To activate your original subscription on this device, do the following:

1) Make sure you have a working Internet connection.

2) Go to Settings-iTunes and App Store, and confirm that you are signed in using the same Apple ID that you used to purchase the original subscription.

3) If not, tap on your Apple ID, and select "Sign Out". Wait until you are successfully signed out, then tap "Sign In" to sign-in again.

4) Sign in using the Apple ID that you used to purchase the original subscription, and wait until you are successfully signed in.

5) Restart your device.

6) Turn on notifications on your phone, then run deviceOwl.

7) Wait a few minutes and the purchase should be automatically restored on the device.

8) Upon successful activation, you'll hear a notification sound, and "Advanced Edition" should be displayed at the bottom of the screen.

2 | Device Restrictions May Be Preventing Purchase Activation

If restrictions were previously applied to in-app purchases on this device, this may be preventing the activation of your in-app purchase. Refer to Prevent in-app purchases from the App Store for information about restrictions that may currently be in place on the device.

3 | Subscription Refunded/Cancelled

If you have received a refund for your cancelled subscription, you won't be able to activate "Advanced Edition". This will also happen, if you cancelled automatic renewal of your subscription, and your subscription has expired.

Refer to See or cancel your subscriptions for information on how to view & manage your in-app purchase subscriptions.

4 | Other Problem Activating Subscription

If you're still unable to restore your in-app purchase, you can try the following:

4.1 | Restoring Purchases Through deviceOwl

1) Make sure you have a working Internet connection.

2) Run deviceOwl.

3) On the main screen, tap the "Information" icon on the lower right.

4) Select the "Restore Purchases" option, then select "Continue". If prompted, please enter the Apple ID credentials that you used to purchase the original subscription.

5) Within a few minutes, your previous "Advanced Edition" subscription should be should be activated automatically.

6) Upon successful activation, you'll hear a notification sound, and "Advanced Edition" should be displayed at the bottom of the screen.

4.2 | Restarting Your Device

1) Restart your device.

2) Once your device has restarted, make sure you have a working Internet connection.

3) Run deviceOwl, wait a few minutes, and deviceOwl "Advanced Edition" should be activated automatically.

4) Upon successful activation, you'll hear a notification sound, and "Advanced Edition" should be displayed at the bottom of the screen.

4.3 | Additional Guidance from Apple

Refer to this additional guidance from Apple on how to resolve issues restoring in-app purchases.

How to Request a Refund of An In-App Purchase

If you have recently purchased a subscription to "Advanced Edition", you may request a refund by contacting Apple.

How to Reset deviceOwl's Device Knowledge

If you receive an error message when trying to check a device, it might be because deviceOwl's device knowledge is somehow damaged. You can try to reset deviceOwl's device knowledge as follows:

Via Preferences

1) Select Preferences (cogs icon) from the bottom toolbar.

2) Select "Owl Cognition Network".

3) Select the switch next to the "Reset Device Knowledge" option and select "Yes".

4) You'll see a message indicating the device knowledge has been reset. Tap "Ok".

5) Return to the main screen of deviceOwl, and select the option "New Device Knowledge is Available".

6) Follow the prompts to update deviceOwl's device knowledge.

What does "Trusted Brand with Known Surveillance Variants" mean?

In some cases, covert surveillance devices are created by third parties, who modify existing, trusted brand devices to add surveillance capabilities. This severity level is displayed when you encounter this type of device.

For more information, refer to How to Check Variants of Trusted Devices.

Can't Use Speech Recognition when Selecting Device Type?

Please note that the speech recognition/dictation feature on the device type selection screen currently supports US English.

Important: When using the speech recognition feature, your speech may be transmitted to Apple services for processing, and to improve the quality of their services.

For more information, please refer to the Apple Ask Siri, Dictation & Privacy Policy.

If you previously denied deviceOwl access to the Microphone, or Speech Recognition capabilities and would like to enable them, perform the following steps:

Via iOS Settings

1) Go to iOS Settings.

2) Scroll down, and select "deviceOwl" from the apps listed.

3) Enable the "Microphone" option.

4) Enable the "Speech Recognition" option.

5) Exit and restart deviceOwl.

On some Apple devices, the dictation feature might have problems. In these cases, the microphone on the device type selection screen may appear disabled/gray. To help resolve this issue, please refer to this dictation troubleshooting checklist.

Why Can't I Visit the Web Site of Some Manufacturers?

When a device is detected, tapping the manufacturer will normally allow you to visit their web site. If visiting the site poses a possible security risk, deviceOwl will not allow you to visit the site.

How Do I Clear My Device Checking History?

To clear the history of devices you have checked, you can do this:

Via Device History

1) Select the Device History (clock icon) from the main screen.

2) Select the "Clear" option from the lower right corner.

3) Select "Yes".

4) Select "Ok".

Via Preferences

1) Select Preferences (cogs icon) from the lower toolbar.

2) Select the "Clear Device History" option.

3) Select "Yes".

4) Select "Ok".