How to record video while protesting, being pulled aside or in distress?

Record video in any situation.

There are many situations where you may want to quickly record video with your phone so that it doesn’t actually look like you are recording video with your phone, whether or not you are to stay safe in a difficult situation, protest in a country that does not necessarily want anyone to protest, or hold law enforcement agencies accountable.

This puts Apple and Google in a bit of trouble, as hidden smartphone video recording isn’t something they want to encourage. Yes it is it could be useful and potentially save lives – but this it can also be abused very easily for all kinds of malevolent purposes. With that in mind, there aren’t any apps or tricks you can use to record video completely secret.

However, there are ways to quickly record clips while your phone is locked, dim the screen while recording video, and more. It’s helpful to know what these options are on your phone if you ever need to rely on one of them.


If you want to quickly access the video recording feature on your iPhone while the screen is locked, press the power button, press and hold the camera button (bottom right), then press and hold the shutter button: photo mode suddenly becomes video mode and starts recording.

You must hold your finger down to continue recording. Once complete, only the recorded clip will be available without fully unlocking the device – to prevent access to the latest video, you can re-lock your phone by pressing the Power button again.

Siri shortcut to use when policemen arrive.

Siri shortcut to use when policemen arrive.
Screenshot: Shortcuts

More functions can be added with I am arrested Siri shortcut (work Robert Petersen). Once installed, say “I am stuck” within Siri’s hearing range and video recording will start from the front camera. The screen is dimmed at the same time and Do Not Disturb mode is on to prevent attracting unwanted attention to the smartphone.

While the shortcut will work while your phone is locked, you’ll need to unlock it to start recording and choose the recipients to send it to when it’s finished. You can also set your videos to auto upload through your favorite cloud storage app of your choice (if it’s iCloud, you can make sure auto upload is turned on by opening Settings, then your Apple ID name and then iCloud).

Turn on VoiceOver.

Turn on VoiceOver.
Screenshot: iOS

There is an accessibility trick to record video when the screen is off, although recording must be started while the screen is on and unlocked. In Settings, select Availability and Accessibility shortcutthen turn on VoiceOver (screen reading tool). In the camera app, start recording a video, then triple-press the power button to turn on VoiceOver and triple-tap the screen with three fingers. The screen goes blank but recording continues. Reverse the process with triple taps to get back to normal.

As you’d expect, Apple doesn’t give third-party apps the ability to record video in the background or when the phone is turned off. The closest app we found is SP cameraA: It will cost you a few dollars, but it tries to hide the fact that video recording is happening by reducing the view of the camera and putting other on-screen furniture around it.

Meanwhile, Mobile justice from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is designed to record your interactions with law enforcement: videos are automatically shared with trusted contacts specified by you and automatically uploaded to ACLU servers, keeping them safe and sonorous if your phone should be caught for any reason.


In terms of software features, Android phones vary by manufacturer, so you may need to do some research on your specific model. You also have to deal with different versions of Android – so you may have to wait for an update – but you should be able to find something suitable for your phone.

On Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones, the fastest way to record a video from the lock screen is to double-tap the power button to bring up the main camera app, then press and hold the shutter button: even if you’re in Photo mode In starting mode, press and hold to start recording video.

Pixel phones can record emergency video.

Pixel phones can record emergency video.
Screenshot: Security

After launching the camera from the lock screen, the only video available without some kind of authentication will be the one you just recorded; to hide it as well, re-lock the phone by pressing the power button again. If your photo software is set to auto-upload video, you’re done: for example, in the Google Photos app for Android, tap on your avatar (top right). Photo settingsand Backup and Sync.

However, these default methods require you to open the camera app. If you have a Pixel phone, there is an alternate method in the Security app: click the gear icon (top left), then click Emergency SOSand you can configure what’s happening on your phone with a quick press of the power button five times. Among the options is one for background video recording, which can then be optionally shared with a specific contact.

Background Video Recorder Pro can be operated from the notification level.

Background Video Recorder Pro can be operated from the notification level.
Screenshot: Android

There are also third-party applications available that offer similar functionality, although they do not quite match security. With an aptly named Background Video Recorder ProYour screen must be unlocked and the application open before recording can start, but you can then use other applications and even lock your phone while recording continues in the background – recording can then be stopped (and video shared automatically) without unlocking the phone.

NinjaCam it works in a similar way, allowing you to record video in the background when other applications are active or the screen is turned off. As with Background Video Recorder Pro, you must have the application open when recording actually starts. With this app, you get a few extra options, including an app-specific PIN lock to create an extra barrier between your videos and anyone who might want to watch them.

T.he Mobile justice the ACLU app is also available for Android as well iPhone. You can use it to record situations where you feel your safety is at risk, and since the clips are automatically shared with trusted contacts and ACLU, your video will be deleted even if your phone doesn’t. The app also provides useful information, including details of your rights if you are stopped by the police or if you protest.

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