Dating a Cheater? How to Find Hidden Apps on Their Phone

Building a lasting relationship is difficult, and it requires a level of trust and good faith on both sides.  It can be hard to build that trust if you feel that your partner might be cheating on you, or taking the relationship less seriously than you are. 

If you know how to catch a cheater, and what signs might indicate infidelity, you may find it easier to have confidence in your situation.  One of those signs is hidden cheater-enabling apps on your partner’s phone.  Read on to discover how to uncover suspicious apps that may be used for cheating.

Evaluate Your Partner’s Behavior (and Your Own)

Before you go hunting for hidden cheating apps, it helps to have a clear head about what you might be looking for.  Cheating doesn’t usually happen in a vacuum, unless you’ve had the misfortune to get involved with a polished, proficient serial philanderer.  Usually you’ll notice a set of specific signs or behaviors that indicate at least a willingness to cheat, whether or not it has actually happened yet.  This might include a sudden decline in interest or openness on your partner’s part, or an unusual devotion to – or defensiveness about – his/her phone.

It’s also worth taking a look in the mirror.  If you’ve been cheated on in the past, or have been the guilty party yourself, you might be predisposed to think it’s going to happen.  If you have a close friend whose judgment you trust, ask him whether he  thinks you’re just being paranoid.  One obvious exception to that rule is relationships that began as a side relationship, while one or both of you were with another person.  It’s only reasonable to suspect that the person who cheated with you will also cheat on you.

If you decide after thinking it through that there’s a chance you’re being cheated on, here’s how to look for hidden apps on your partner’s phone.

Hidden Cheating Apps for iPhone and Android

There are some apps – Tinder, Bumble, Grindr – that exist for the sole purpose of enabling hookups. These are an obvious red flag even for the most trusting of partners, so any cheater or would-be cheater will take steps to hide those from casual view almost as soon as they’re installed.

Aside from these hookup platforms, there are a few less obvious apps used by cheaters.  Communicating reliably with that “side person” is always a big priority for cheaters, so philanderers are big fans of secure messaging apps like Viber and Signal that keep no record of messages or images sent by their users.  Less-sophisticated cheaters may simply use regular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and manually delete any potentially-incriminating messages, but there’s no need to hide those because they’re widely used for legitimate messaging.

How Cheating Apps are Hidden

There are several different ways apps can be hidden on iOS and Android.  It can be as simple as burying them several screens deep in the home screen, which isn’t especially secure but at least conceals apps from the casual eye.  There’s a straightforward process to hide apps more effectively in iOS, which is detailed on Apple’s support page.  Android offers a few techniques of its own, and – because individual phone makers have more latitude to add features in Android – may also offer a proprietary “privacy mode” of their own.

A more subtle strategy is apps designed specifically to hide problematic apps or files.  App Hider and similar apps, for example, are designed to serve as a secure vault for apps, suggestive photos or any other problematic content.  They’re password-protected, and to anyone without the password they simply look like a calculator or other innocuous app.

How to Find Hidden Apps in iOS

Hidden cheater apps for the iPhone are usually concealed through the App Store.  You won’t be able to unhide them as such, but the hidden apps are listed on the App Store and can be re-downloaded.  Here’s how:

  • Log in to the App Store using your partner’s Apple ID and password, then scroll down and tap Hidden Purchases.  
  • You’ll see a list of apps that have been hidden, which may or may not include some of those red-flag “cheater” apps.  
  • If there are app names you don’t recognize, write them down and look them up on the App store.  If any of them are app hiders or apps with a cheater-enabling feature set, that’s a potential red flag.

This option requires you to have your partner’s Apple ID and password, which won’t always be a possibility.  If you have physical access to the phone, you can use the iOS search function.  Just type in the name of an app, such as Tinder or Bumble, and if it’s on the phone Search should find either the app or the folder containing it.  You can also ask Siri to open apps by name, and see if that works.

Apps that have been concealed in folders are hard to find using Siri or manual search, which is exactly the point.  You can defeat that ploy by resetting the Home screen.  Go to Settings, then General, and Reset, and then tap Reset Home Screen Layout.  Any folders your partner has created will be deleted, and the apps that have been hidden inside them will show up as you scroll through the home screen.  This works, but it’s as subtle as a hammer so you’ll have some explaining to do afterwards.

How to Find Hidden Apps in Android

There are a couple of ways to find hidden apps in Android. One is through the App Drawer.  Here’s how to use it:

  • Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to the top  to open it (on some versions of Android, there’s an icon with six or nine dots instead).  
  • Look for an option that says Hide Apps or on some phones Show Hidden Applications.  

If neither of those show up in the App Drawer, there are no hidden apps on the phone (or they’re hidden with a “stealth” app).

Another option is to use the Android Settings app, the one that looks like a gear wheel with cogs.  From the main Settings screen tap on Applications (it may say Apps or Apps & Notifications on some phones or Android versions).  Next tap All Apps to see all apps installed on the phone, hidden or not.  Scroll through the list, making note of any apps that are clear “red flags” and making a list of unknown apps you can check later against their descriptions in the app store.

How Not to Catch a Cheater

One tempting option, if you suspect you’re being cheated on, is to secretly install one or another spy app on your partner’s phone.  These are usually sold on the premise that they’re for keeping track of your kids, or your mentally infirm parents, but in truth the apps are often marketed for the purpose of monitoring your partner’s behavior and catching a potential cheater.

There are a couple of problems with this.  One is that it’s seriously unethical, and your partner – guilty or not – would have legitimate grounds for considering it a relationship-ending betrayal.  Another is that these apps are often used by stalkers and abusers, and even if you don’t believe you fit this category you’re at the very least enabling them by giving the app’s developer your business.

Most importantly, though, it’s usually illegal to use the apps in this way unless your partner has given explicit permission for the tracking app to be installed.  Cheaters aren’t likely to give that permission, so you’re setting yourself up to potentially face criminal charges.

How to Catch a Cheater By Other Means

Except for unabashed hookup apps, most of the apps on your partner’s phone have plausible reasons for being there.  Many businesses rely on secure messaging through WhatsApp or Telegram, for example, so it’s not necessarily a “smoking gun” for infidelity.  So if you don’t find any hidden or unequivocally cheater-centric apps, what further steps can you legitimately take?

One simple test, if you can get access to your partner’s phone, is to see what comes up when you start typing in search fields.  For instance, if typing “A” brings up cheating sites like Ashley Madison or AdultFriendFinder as suggestions, that’s a sign your partner has searched for them.  You might also set up dummy accounts on cheating or dating sites, and look for profiles that match your partner.  Just be aware that this can make you look guilty, whether your partner is cheating or not.

A better option is to use Spokeo’s people search tools to search on your partner’s name, phone number and known email addresses or even usernames.  Spokeo can turn up unknown accounts and profiles on dating or social-media platforms that are linked to those pieces of personal information.  You can also use Spokeo to look up the person behind phone numbers that frequently call or text your partner.  If “Joe from work” turns out to be that hot redhead from the fitness center, he’s busted.

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