Black screenshots

Reasons why black screenshots appear

Posted by Cam on March 12, 2020

Why are there black screenshots?

Black screenshots can appear for a variety of reasons.

  1. The app in use utilizes the Secure Flag, provided by android which prevents anyone (even you) from capturing a screenshot of the content. This is most commonly used by financial, health care, and enterprise apps, however it also appears when Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ or other streaming services are used that want to protect their copyrighted content. The “meta” data (data supplied alongside each screenshot) should show the name of the app being used, and if it’s a popular streaming service it will include the name of the video being played as well. This is by far the most common reason.
  2. The phone screen turns black before it officially turns off. This typically occurs just for a brief moment but if Truple happens to take a screenshot then, it’ll be completely black.
  3. The person is in a phone call, and the screen has turned black but not off.
  4. The device is in an “idle” state, but failed to deliever the Screen Off message to the Truple app.
  5. There’s a bug in the underlying hardware on the phone. This is quite rare and typically occurs on older and budget devices. When this occurs there are several black screenshots captured in a row. The Truple app will attempt to alievate this by restarting the screen capture service, but it isn’t guaranteed to work. This isn’t something the user (or Truple) can control–it’ll occur randomly and fix itself randomly. The meta data will still be provided, and you can review the apps used and websites visited during this time by visiting the stats page.
  6. A special app is being used that draws an overlay over the screen and then uses the secure flag. These apps are designed specifically to block screenshots from being captured. The Truple app will immediately report if any of these apps are used.

How can I further investigate black screenshots?

To investigate black screenshots further, do the following:

  • Review the “meta” data supplied alongside the screenshot, which should include the app being used, the date & time the screenshot was taken, and potentially other information about the content being viewed if the app. This can give valuable insight into what is being done on the phone.
  • Review the events that occured around the time the black screenshot was taken on the event timeline. We built the event timeline to help investigate issues like this.

Still not satisfied?

Please reach out at support@truple.io and we’ll do our best to answer any remaining questions.


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