[UPDATED] Hold off on getting a Swann security camera if you have Android 10

Android / Editorial / Mobile / Security / Tech
Swann security camera SAFE by Swann Android 10 bug

Unfortunately, at this time, I can’t recommend Swann products for home security if you are running Android 10.

About a month ago, we posted our review of the Swann Floodlight Security System. Overall, it is a pretty decent system. However, with the recent Android 10 update, that’s changed and a bug with the SAFE by Swann app makes the camera inaccessible.

UPDATED (11/12/2019): Swann has released an updated beta version of the SAFE by Swann app. I can confirm that this restores full functionality to camera on devices running Android 10. As such, we can recommend the Swann Floodlight Security System once again for all users.

UPDATED (11/08/2019): Swann Support has finally followed up via email and says a fix is coming with no ETA. “We apologize for the late response. The compatibility issue between the SAFE by Swann app and the latest Android 10. We have become aware that phones upgraded to these version cannot finish pairing with the cameras. We are in contact with the developers and will apply a working app as soon as possible to the Playstore.”

UPDATED (11/04/2019): After repeated attempts to follow up with Swann Support via email, a previous ticket, and Twitter, we haven’t received a single response since late September. As such, we cannot recommend this system if you are running Android 10.

UPDATED (09/25/2019): Swann PR pointed me to a Support Blog Post from August 29th which, interestingly enough, wasn’t mentioned by Swann Support directly.

Swann’s customer support and product teams have been working hard to identify the cause and find a solution to the problem. The issue appears to be caused by a change in the Chromium code, which is the basis of all web content displayed in Chrome and therefore within Android in general. (Chromium bug report). As the bug is an issue within the Android OS, the issue cannot be easily fixed by Swann. We understand this is a great inconvenience and will keep you updated as we learn more.

Swann Support blog post

At any rate, I did try the steps they suggested even though disabling both Chrome and Android System Webview are less than optimal workarounds. Unfortunately, the app still force closes… in fact it feels like it does so even faster than with both those enabled.

Stay tuned for further updates…

ORIGINAL STORY:

Backing up a couple of months, when I first received the system to review, the Android Q beta came out. I, of course, promptly installed it and everything seemed to be working fine… except the SAFE by Swann app. When launching the app, it simply force closed after showing the app logo screen. In order to finish the review, I reverted back to Android Pie and all was well again. I did notify Swann support of the issue and there’s even a thread on the Swann Support site informing them of the crash. (NOTE: for some reason, the Swann Support community forum has been down for maintenance for at least a couple of days.) At any rate, it worked fine on Pie, support had been notified, and I went on my merry way.

Fast forward to September 3rd when Android 10 officially launched for the Google Pixel devices. Like other Pixel users, I mashed that refresh button and promptly upgraded when given the opportunity.

As for the Swann security camera system, I didn’t give it much thought. To be honest, my normal usage is to ignore the motion notifications because I know why it’s going off when it does. That being said, one morning shortly after updating to Android 10 I had a notification that there was a motion event in the middle of the night. Not thinking twice, I tapped it, the SAFE by Swann app opened… and force closed as soon as it hit the dashboard. I tried again only to discover the same thing.

Screenshot of SAFE by Swann app crashing on Android 10
Screenshot of SAFE by Swann app crashing on Android 10.

I then recalled I was on the beta version of the app, as I’m apt to do with most apps, so I opted out of the beta, uninstalled it, and installed the stable version. I fired it up and the same thing happened. A quick Google search revealed I wasn’t alone in experiencing this bug with the app and Android 10 and I emailed Swann support on September 10th. They suggested I try the beta app and thanked me for bringing the issue to their attention.

And here we are on September 23rd and still no resolution. I did hear from support yesterday, however, they “still don’t have any update regarding this.” As a result, while the camera still operates, I can’t access any of the settings or video clips on it because the SAFE by Swann app crashes. To be honest, this basically makes the camera useless.

On that note, all my other smart home apps work just fine under Android 10. Ring, Schlage, myQ, Phyn, and ecobee all launch and work as one would expect after the upgrade. Being a computer guy, I understand that some OS updates require app coding updates as well. However, give that all my other smart home apps work just fine with Android 10 and SAFE by Swann is the only one that doesn’t, that doesn’t give me great confidence in the Swann security camera ecosystem. One would expect that a company touting home security solutions would be on top of Android changes and updates to ensure their customers can change any settings and reliably view any captured footage from motion events on their systems. Not to mention, there’s no way to view said footage from the web either.

As a result, it’s just a waiting game for me and everyone else with a Swann security camera system who have Android 10 on their smartphones. Unfortunately, at this time, I can’t recommend Swann products for home security if you are running Android 10. Honestly, I have a hard time recommending them even if you aren’t as this incident doesn’t instill faith that this issue won’t happen with the next Android update or the one after that. Given the Android 10 beta/developer builds have been out since June, and Swann Support was notified back then about compatibility issues, there really is no excuse for the SAFE by Swann app not to be working with the latest version of Android 3 months later.

Do you have a Swann security camera and have been “locked out” because you’re running Android 10? Have you been considering one and will now be evaluating a second choice? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook, or MeWe.

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