Ninja Camera is a very sneaky iPhone app from Japan which is intended to let the users take photos without anyone noticing. It was released this week, and has been ranked number one in the photo and video category since then , so it’s certainly popular with at least a few people.
As you can see in our demo video above, Ninja Camera has three stealthy shooting modes:
- Silent camera mode: The normal viewfinder is displayed, but when you take a photo, there isn’t any shutter sound. Note that in Japan, camera phones are required to make this noise, although many apps allow users to get around this.
- Hidden camera mode: This is perhaps the most nefarious feature, as your camera’s screen shows fully functioning web browser, with a tiny camera viewfinder in the bottom corner. So even if someone is watching over your shoulder, it appears as though you are innocently browsing the web – when you are actually snapping photos .
- Dark camera mode: This shooting mode blacks out the entire screen, making it appear as though your phone is off. But there are faintly visible shutter buttons on the bottom, letting you continue to snap off pictures.
Back in 2011 when such photo applications started to become more of a problem, an Apple Japan representative was cited by the Yomiuri Shimbun as saying that “There’s no problem as long as the developer’s stated purpose for the app doesn’t go against social ethics.”
In Ninja Camera’s app description, the developer of Ninja camera lists three example purposes for its stealthy app: shooting a sleeping baby, taking pictures of pets sensitive to sound, and taking photos in a quiet place. Ultimately, I think the responsibility does lie with the user. But in my view, an app like Ninja Camera definitely looks like it was intentionally designed for snapping covert pictures of unsuspecting ladies. If you look at one of the app’s promo photo (below and to the right) it shows a photo taken of a lady from behind — so the intent isn’t really even obscured here — even though it’s not explicitly stated.