Those who are security conscious and value their privacy don’t find the idea of strangers browsing through their personal photos very appealing. There’s always a chance – no matter how careful you are – for your phone to get stolen, or your accounts to become hacked making any stored photos accessible to unwanted individuals.
PhotoScrambler is a free Windows Phone app that can encode and decode photos, currently supporting PNG and JPEG image formats. Encoded image files are stored like regular images but they only show static, not the photo itself.
The first time you open the app, you’ll have to setup a passcode that you’ll use to access it from now on. From the main menu you can choose the ‘Scramble photos’ but to do that you’ll need to create and save at least one scramble code.
For each scramble code you can setup a color, a short description and the code itself. Through the ‘Scramble photos’ option, the app takes you to your pictures hub to select the photo(s) you want to scramble.
Then you can choose the code you want to use, the image size (there are three possible heights – 640px, 820px, 1024px) and whether you want to overwrite the original image or save the scrambled photo as a copy.
If you’re not happy with your image selection you can always use the ‘Pick files’ option to change it, before you tap the ‘Scramble’ button. Depending on your phone’s hardware and your selection’s size it may take a few moments for the entire batch to be processed.
Unscrambling photos is pretty intuitive. The option takes you once again to your pictures hub from where you can select the images you want unscramble and once they’ve been decoded confirm the save.
You can use a scrambled image just like you would a regular one. This means you can simply store them on your phone but also transfer them to other devices, share them with others, upload them to OneDrive or another cloud storage service and so on. Without PhotoScrambler along with the proper code, nobody will be able to decode your scrambled images.
You can also share scrambled images via the ‘Safe Share’ option. This sends your selection of images to the app’s servers and automatically creates download links for each of them, once you’ve chosen the scrambling code that should be used and how long the image(s) will be available for download.
Anyone that receives a PhotoScrambler image link will be prompted to insert the correct code to download the unscrambled image. Without the code you can only download the scrambled version.
There’s also a ‘Secure camera’ option that offers a very basic camera which will allow you to scramble the photo right after you’ve captured it. To be honest, I find it much more productive to use the phone’s camera to take pictures and then open them inside PhotoScrambler.
In the Settings menu, the app lets you manage your scramble codes, change the passcode you use to access PhotoScrambler as well as the default image size.
The app is free although there is a premium version you can purchase for $0.99 and receive extra functionality. The upgrade offers the ability to save up to 10 scrambling codes (you can save only 2 in the free version), improved batch processing and more photo size options.
I found the app to be intuitive, altough it did took me some time to go through all of its options and settings. PhotoScrambler is definitely a must have app for those who want to maintain the privacy of their photo collection and have complete control over who can access it.