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iPhone 4 Mobile Spy lets you keep an eye on employee iPhone usage

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For corporations who want to make sure that employees are following Acceptable Use Policies or parents who want to make sure that their kids aren't texting while driving, there's now a solution. Florida-based Retina-X Studios has announced Mobile Spy for iPhone 4, a combination of an iPhone app and a service that allow anxious parents and business owners to track usage of the phone without the user's knowledge.

According to Retina-X, you install the Mobile Spy app onto the phone you wish to track. It reloads at every restart, and has no icon or screen -- it's running completely in background. While it's running, Mobile Spy captures call activity, SMS text messages, the location of the user (updated every 30 minutes), contacts stored and added to the phone, all inbound and outbound email activity, all websites visited, and all photos and videos taken by the phone. All of that information is then uploaded stealthily to the Mobile Spy servers. The customer can log in and view the activities in almost real time.

Retina-X notes that the software is "not for use on a phone you do not own or have proper permission to monitor from the user or owner." In other words, as a business owner you'd have to purchase the iPhones and then let your employees know that you're going to be monitoring their usage. Likewise, if you buy an iPhone for your kid, you'll probably want to let them know that you'll be keeping an eye on how the phone is being used.

There's one little thing that isn't immediately apparent unless you go digging around the Retina-X website -- the Mobile Spy software installation instructions tell you that you need to jailbreak your device to install the software. To top it off, we couldn't find the app in the Cydia store. James Johns, CEO of Retina-X, responded to questions from TUAW saying that the "App Store doesn't allow applications which run in stealth," and "While available in Cydia as a free trial, the purchase is done outside of the Cydia store to allow the user the ability to instantly setup their account with our backend instead of having to wait for manual processing."

The service isn't cheap at US$99.97 per year, but it could prevent a lawsuit against a company or ensure that a teen isn't texting while driving. What's your take on this monitoring app? Leave us a comment.

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