iPhone - how to have text messages automatically sent to email

I wouldn’t touch them. Too much is wrapped up in your Apple ID to give that to any third party, no matter how apparently legit. Even if you are wholly convinced there is zero malicious intent, are you equally convinced their security is at least as good as Apple’s?

With your Apple ID, I could probably start spending your money, and maybe access your emails and other accounts depending on what else you use your ID for. I could also remotely lock and/or wipe your phone or Mac (if you had one). That’s just what I could do if you told me. There are probably more insidious identity-theft style activities a hacker could pull off with your Apple ID/password.

I’m curious what they are doing. I found 3 vendors for this type of application, that don’t require jailbreaking, one (Teensafe) has been reviewed favorably in quite a few places. They require the phone have backup to iCloud enabled, and then you have to login with the apple ID and password. At first I wondered if they aren’t just providing a simple front end to iCloud, but iCloud (as far as I can tell) does not let you read your sms text messages from the iCloud web location. So what do you think they are doing, from a programming point of view.

This is getting a bit over my head, so take all my opinions and guesses with increasingly larger grains of salt, and for context, my default stance is still that entering your Apple ID anywhere other than with Apple is a bad idea and I would need to be convinced otherwise.

I’m guessing Teensafe is somehow pulling the actual backup from iCloud using your credentials, and once it has that, it has pretty much everything on your phone since the last time it backed up.

If you backup your phone to iTunes on your computer, you can chose whether or not to encrypt it, but if your backups are unencrypted, there are utilities you can use for stuff like pulling your text message history out of it, and there used to be at least some GPS data saved in there as well (there was a minor scandal a couple years ago when people realized that).

So if Teensafe has a way to pull your backups from the iCloud server (and I guess get around the encryption because they have your credentials), they could get the same kind of info out of it. You wouldn’t be getting the updates in real time as your kid texts, just updates every time it backs up. I should clarify that “iCloud” is a vague term applied across several services Apple offers. Backing up your iPhone to iCloud is making a backup of all the data on your phone (though not the Apps themselves, just the data they store on your phone) to Apple’s server. It’s a separate feature from what you’re accessing when you login to iCloud.com.

I have three concerns, two mentioned already. First, is this actually malicious? On the surface, it doesn’t seem to be, and through other trusted sources and reviews, this would be the easiest of my concerns to overcome. You also have to think about the future though. If the company goes under, then what? Can someone else less trustworthy just swoop in and buy them? Do you have any protection against that?

Second, is it secure? They might have the best intentions and highest regard for your privacy, but your security is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. It’s possible anyone could get hacked/have a security breach, even Apple, but now you’re giving hackers a second target. So are you sure Teensafe is as secure as Apple is? Also, worst case scenario with Apple, if they get hacked, that’s on them, they’d be aware of it and be in the best position to make things right to the extent possible (refunding purchases, etc.). You lose some of that protection if your Apple ID is compromised elsewhere.

Third, security issues aside, if this is all being done without Apple’s cooperation (which is my assumption), it could all stop working tomorrow. If Apple changes something about how iCloud backups work, Teensafe might not be able to keep accessing them, or might not be able to get the same data, etc.

I’d never heard of services like this before, so this is all guesswork based on my “Apple Enthusiast” level of knowledge of iCloud and Apple’s systems. I’d love it if anyone with more developer background could shed some light on this.

I’m with Wholly – my advice is to never give an Apple ID and/or password directly to any app or service, for any reason. If they do a single sign-on via iCloud that’s one thing, but they should never see any part of the account login themselves. If anyone I knew had unwittingly used something like that, I would urge them to change their passwords immediately.

That said, iCloud integration is actually a thing, so provided that you are seeing an Apple login, that by itself isn’t a reason to worry.

Yeah, I’m not comfortable with that approach. Amazing how easy this was on her Samsung Galaxy 3 - a program installed just automatically sent copies of texts to her email account, even created a special label/folder, everything in real time.

Too bad she’s on a Windows desktop, because it’s pretty amazingly easy on a Mac, too; you don’t do anything and they start appearing every place you log in.

Not to be all Android fanboi in a thread where you’re looking for genuine advice, but this is exactly the thing…A lot of people feel like iOS has a more “streamlined,” polished end-user experience (although I’d argue this is getting less and less true, as Android is pretty slick these days,) but that’s accomplished SPECIFICALLY because Apple has things locked down so tightly. The openness that people like me love about Android has the downside of making it impossible to ensure that every feature and app is as streamlined as Apple manages to achieve with their platform.

Hopefully Apple can find some way to improve the compatibility with PCs.

I suppose it would be more productive to hope for better game availability on the Mac; at least then it’s something that aligns with Apple’s interest. The market share keeps growing, so it’s not beyond hope… but my guess is that it’ll probably end up being related to the ease of targeting both iOS and OSX, if it ever happens.

Yep. I had an Android for a while, it was our “official” work smart phone, and I loved all of the ability to modify it and make it “my way.” I ended up back with an iPhone just because I had an iPad and I wanted that integration and sharing of apps, but I miss the freedom and open nature.

For my wife, she is not a techie kind of person and she would get a little lost on the Android (Galaxy 3) when it came to doing anything she didn’t already know how to do. Plus, I gave her an iPad Mini Retina for Christmas (thank you QT3 helpers!) and she loves it (we’re on vacation with family and she’s reading on it right now) and she wanted the easy integration of music, photos, apps, etc. and the simplicity and straightforwardness of the iPhone. This is the only thing that she has “lost” in the switch. But it’s a pain.

One of the products touts the fact that you never give them your Apple ID and PW:

" Unlike other systems, your Apple ID and password are never sent back to us. That’s handled on your own computer by the standalone program. Therefore your ID is never seen by any third party."

Of course it’s their standalone program, so I’m sure if they wanted to be nefarious and steal it they could. Apparently the way the other two programs work is they have a web site you log into that accesses the iCloud backup and decrypts the information you can’t normally see when you log into iCloud backup, like sms text messages. This one is a standalone Windows program you install and you do the accessing yourself. But again, if they WANT to have some kind of back door in the program to steal the log in info, they could. I suppose I could put some kind of monitoring program to see if it “phones home” but eh. It’s also of course not real time like the hardcore “spyware” programs that monitor in real time but require jailbreaking.

Now it is more an intellectual challenge for me, LOL! I’ve resigned myself that what she wants is not gonna be doable on a non-jailbreak iPhone, and the current iOS seems to have messed that up.

One thing this led me to think about, can you set the frequency of backup to iCloud on an iphone? My google-fu is failing me.

iCloud backup “[automatically backs up] your camera roll, accounts, documents, and settings when this iPhone is plugged in, locked, and connected to Wi-Fi”, according to the description in the settings panel.

I believe you can also manually trigger a backup, but the above is the only time it does it automatically, and there are no options for scheduling them. Basically they don’t ever want it to be a battery drain or at the mercy of a cellular signal.