How to use BlackBerry’s Privacy Shade

Shrug off smartphone snoopers with BlackBerry's Privacy Shade

how to use blackberry privacy shade key2
Andy Boxall/

Whether you think it’s important or not, there has been more attention drawn to online privacy recently than ever before. But what about keeping activity on your phone private? We’re talking about the prying eyes of the guy sitting next to you on the train, or another with a long-lens camera sneaking on your emails. The most secure password in the world can’t stop that.

What you need is BlackBerry’s Privacy Shade, a feature that comes pre-installed on its BlackBerry KeyOne and BlackBerry KeyTwo Android smartphones, and is also available as a stand-alone app for other Android phones.

Here’s how to find Privacy Shade on your BlackBerry, or use it on a different Android phone.

Find Privacy Shade on the BlackBerry KeyOne, and Key2

how to use blackberry privacy shade key2 button
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Privacy Shade is found in the Android Notification Shade. Drop it down with a swipe to expose all the shortcuts at the top of the screen. If it’s not there, hit the Edit button that looks like a pencil and see if the Privacy Shade tile is waiting there. If so, tap and drag it into the shade.

If you still can’t see it, you may have to activate the feature from the app. Either using the Google search bar on the home screen or the search bar in the app menu, find Privacy Shade and follow the on-screen instructions to set it up.

How to use Privacy Shade on the BlackBerry KeyOne, and Key2

how to use blackberry privacy shade key2 rectangle
Andy Boxall/

Tap the Privacy Shade icon in the notification shade. A bar will appear over the screen, obscuring everything around it and leaving only the section it hovers over visible. This means only that area can be viewed, keeping surrounding information completely hidden.

It’s best suited to reading emails, Facebook, Twitter, or other written content, as navigating the phone is a chore like this. Tap and hold the Eye icon under the shade to move the exposed area up and down the screen. Double tap the Eye icon to increase the size of the window, or to shrink it down again.

how to use blackberry privacy shade key2 circle
Andy Boxall/

At the top right of the screen are two buttons. The square with the arrow inside exits Privacy Shade, while the three dots opens a menu to customize the Shade. Five different options appear when you tap this menu. The first, which is a rectangle, changes the shade to a circular view, or turns off the shade entirely, for a blank screen.

how to use blackberry privacy shade key2 settings
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The button below, a circle with a line through it, is like a light switch. Tap it and the shade will darken until you tap and hold the Eye icon. Remove your finger, and it darkens again. Under this is a button to change the size of the Shade area, and the button shaped like a water droplet is for changing the opacity of the screen around the Shade. This goes from completely black, like the screen is off, to still slightly visible.

Privacy Shade on other Android phones

how to use blackberry privacy shade app
Andy Boxall/

BlackBerry offers the Privacy Shade as a stand-alone app from Google Play for other Android phones. When you open it for the first time it will prompt you to also install the BlackBerry Hub+ app. This is also used by other BlackBerry apps including BlackBerry Calendar and various third-party apps, as a general notification platform.

how to use blackberry privacy shade app oneplus 6
Andy Boxall/

However, if you only want to use Privacy Shade, you don’t have to add any other services or grant the extensive permissions that the Hub+ demands. Privacy Shade on any other Android phone operates in exactly the same way as it does on the KeyOne or Key2, and all the instructions above apply. We used the app on the OnePlus 6, and it worked faultlessly.

There is one major difference between the Google Play app and the version on a BlackBerry phone. Privacy Shade is a BlackBerry feature and therefore free on its own Android phones; but because it’s part of BlackBerry Hub+ for other phones, a $1 monthly subscription charge is applicable. You can try Privacy Shade for 30 days without charge to see if it’s worth the money.

Now you can browse the web and read those secret emails in peace, almost anywhere, without worrying about your privacy.


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